nonsymbolic information sources

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David Quinter The Life Story of the Buddha “Unlike genes, and other nonsymbolic information sources, which are only models for, not models of, culture patterns have an intrinsic double aspect: they give meaning, that is, objective conceptual form, to social and psychological reality both by shaping them – selves to it and by shaping it to themselves.” “The Problem of Meaning… is a matter of affirming, or at least recognizing, the ines- capability of ignorance, pain, and injustice on the human plane while simultaneously denying that these irrationalities are characteristic of the world as a whole. And it is in terms of religious symbolism, a symbolism relating man’s sphere of existence to a wider sphere within which it is conceived to rest, that both the affirmation and the denial are made.”1Key terms Hagiography: Sacred biography The Buddha (“Awakened One”): the historical Buddha (566 -486 BCE or c. 480 -400 BCE) Shakyamuni: “Sage of the Shakya clan,” referring to the historical Buddha Siddhartha (“he who has achieved his goal”): given name for the Buddha Jataka tales: Stories of the previous lives of the Buddha 5 paths of rebirth: helldwellers, restless spirits, animals, humans, and gods (+ashuras=6) karma: “action;” the moral law of cause and effect Mara: “Death,” the highest god of the realm of desire, foe of the Buddha the Bodhi tree: the tree of “awakening” or “enlightenment” The “Threefold Knowledge” attained by the Buddha: 1) memory of own previous lives 2) seeing rebirth of others according to their karma 3) recognition of the causally conditioned nature of reality The “4 Noble Truths” of: 1) Suffering (There’s a disease): all life is characterized by suffering and impermanence 2) Origin of suffering (This is the cause): craving, leads to rebirth 3) Cessation of suffering (There’s a cure): removal of craving removes suffering 4) Path leading to cessation of suffering (This is the cure): =the Eightfold Path (traditionally divided into the Three Trainings) leads to nirvana, the “cessation” of karmic consequences and rebirth The “Middle Way” teachings: between sensual indulgence and extreme asceticism between existence and non-existence The Three Trainings: morality ( shila ), meditation (samadhi), and wisdom (prajna)1 Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973), pp. 93, 108.

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