Scott Level 03
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  • from Arizona
  • Member since Dec 3rd 2021
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Posts by Scott

    Cassius, all of these tools are good. (Tho I would say don't consider the opinion of one of the competitors as the best source fir a comparison, as they just might have a bit of bias in their position! 🙂). Signal, the only private messenger that uses open source code & peer-reviewed cryptographic protocols, is IMO the most secure of them, but jeez... EF doesn't really have military level secrets or anything anyway! All or these are good products. Threema should do fine, and not requiring your phone # is a nice touch! But I'm not sure I understand why EF needs an "emergency backup / instant messenger system". What would that do for us? Under what circumstances would it be needed?

    Welcome to EF, Jake cu ! At the very least, you will find many thought-provoking and worthwhile ideas here.


    Some old ideas are as worthwhile today as they were many centuries ago! :thumbup:

    Welcome, Yannsousa ! You've come to an interesting place! I've only been in this forum a couple of months, but I have found Epicureanism quite fascinating.


    Glad to have you with us. Feel free to ask questions and share!

    is there a way to collate all this information?

    I sure hope a way is found. This would be a great project for someone. Well beyond my pay grade but I'd love to see it and have an accurate (as possible) knowledge of how deep and far Epicureanism went in history!

    I will attempt to take Cassius up on his request for an epitome of Buddhist teachings

    What you wrote seems basically correct for Theravada, Joshua. Mahayana Buddhists, however, would take issue with certain points of it. Some of them would throw out most of it.


    In view of the above list, you will apprehend the impossibility of removing rebirth, kamma [karma] or nibbana [nirvana] from Buddhism. They are integral. There are those in the secular community who keep the name of Buddhism for its ethics, or for its mindfulness, or for its psychology---but whatever it is that remains, it is not Buddhism.

    You have every right to call things what you choose, Joshua. But Secular Buddhists will probably continue to identify themselves as Buddhist. In fact those who follow Stephen Batchelor's line will say the Theravada tradition is NOT true Buddhism, that it suffers from translation errors that fundamentally distorted the Buddha's message, and also that the elements you describe such as karma and rebirth and so forth were NOT part of the Buddha's message at all but rather muddied their way into the Buddha's recorded teachings over time. Batchelor suggests this happened as part of an attempt to better conform the new "religion" to the widely accepted and deeply engrained soteriology in India thought.

    Since we are devoted to studying Epicurus here rather than competing viewpoints, I doubt it would make much sense to pursue any systematic study of any "minor" religion or viewpoint unless a significant number of us here have confronted it and need "ammunition" against it.

    I totally understand what you are saying, Cassius . I was thinking also that another value to discussing other philosophies and viewpoints would not just to have "ammunition" to defeat them, but to learn from how they might interface with EP and how people might benefit. For instance, a common discussion in the EF is how to IMPLEMENT Epicurean philosophy. EP per se doesn't offer much specifics on how to do this. I have found great nuggets from Stoicism and Buddhism and many other perspectives that do. These expand and augment my EP experience. And "implementation" is not the only area where discussing other viewpoints can provide benefits.

    Welcome Tom Karpathos ! Glad to have you with us! This is a fascinating group, and Epicurean philosophy in general is a unique and creative guide for living which is not just a historical relic but is quite capable of being used in modern life. I'm pretty new here too, but I've learned a lot already. Enjoy!


    Scott

    "Of the ancient Indian philosophies of..."

    I know a bit about the ancient Indian traditions prior to Buddhism, but I'm no expert in those. I'm about at the Wikipedia level on that stuff :P But I can say a few things about Buddhism at any rate.


    HOWEVER... I just completed a quick romp through the forum and it seems to me most every significant topic surrounding a comparison of Buddhism and EP has been kicked around in this forum multiple times. There are discussions on this stuff starting several years ago. The dead horse is hardly recognizable now. And it seemed to me a lot of the threads didn't really lead to any definitive answers or useful information. I think Nate was right when he said "I don't think that comparisons between Buddhism and Epicurean philosophy are helpful. They are dissimilar and historically unrelated." I would add to that that Buddhism became so variegated through time that today we would need to specify very particular Buddhist lineages/schools in order to attempt a sensible comparison. Even the most commonly shared teachings like the "Four Noble Truths" and so forth have RADICALLY different meanings between schools.


    So let's take just one example here - the GOAL of the Buddhist life. The stated goal(s) of the different traditions do NOT match! There are fundamental differences. Even though many Buddhists would refer to the ultimate goal as "Nirvana", in modern "Secular Buddhism", we have the currently popular Stephen Batchelor who says based on the earliest Pali writings of Buddhism that the goal of life (aka Nirvana) may be identified as "human flourishing". Batchelor presents a modern, engaged-with-the-world idea. It is certainly not about suppressing desire, but involves working with desires so they don't become problems. But the Theravada tradition (one of the largest and oldest branches of Buddhism - also steeped in the early Pali scriptures) goes in a different direction and says the ultimate goal is "cessation of all suffering", which they also call Nirvana but this is understood as being obtained by training the mind in silent meditation (basically for years and years) with minimal contact with the outside "world". This is to produce the (frequently criticized) result of someone who is totally "unfettered" by desires (desires being the cause of suffering, in this view). Mahayana Buddhists OTOH (like Tibetan, Zen, etc.) consider the Theravada tradition of spending all your time in self-absorption trying to liberate yourself as being involved in a kind of selfishness (which is a big no-no), and so they go in yet a different direction. They hold forth the ideal of the "Bodhisattva" which is a kind of infinitely compassionate person everyone tries to become in order to go around saving everyone else from suffering. Then we have the goal for Pure Land Buddhists - to chant and pray to Amida Buddha (an incarnation of the Buddha) hoping to be delivered to the Pure Land (a kind of heaven) after death. Resembles Christianity. This rambling of mine (sorry for the length) is only a tiny fraction of understanding only 4 schools regarding just one idea - the "goal" of the Buddhist life, and believe me I have only scratched the surface!


    Now Epicurus had to defend his philosophy against competitors. And if I understand it correctly (and I might not - I'm not a scholar in Classical/Hellenistic Greece!) this competition was not just for recognition - money and resources were also on the line. A successful philosophical school won patrons and students and thrived. But here today in EF we don't have that situation of course. Still sometimes it feels like a battle is going on. EP against X, EP against Y, EP against Buddhism, etc. For me I just find studying various philosophies fun and interesting and - more importantly - helpful in living a good life. Differences between philosophical perspectives help clarify ideas, through contrast and comparison. This seems worthwhile. But if we're going to do comparisons of EP to Buddhism, I think it would be more productive to narrow down to particular branches of Buddhism or I think even better, just specific concepts. This approach may not help so much with the project of making EP "triumph" over other perspectives, but I think it works better to help gain useful insights.

    First, the disclaimer:

    I have great hesitation even posting in this thread. This should probably be 12 different threads. There is so much here to take on. Let me start with - like it or not - there are very many understandings of Buddhism, many of which directly contradict each other, and we have NO written version of what the Buddha said. We all know how difficult it is to make sense of a philosophy that has been written down, especially over years by different authors, passing through translations by different peeps in history, through various languages old and modern - now just imagine that with no certain starting point. At all. They started writing the Buddha's words down probably around 3-400 years after the Buddha had died and one could argue they are essentially still adding to the canon - there is no "revealed" or "authentic" truth / version by a god or an Epicurus or other religious leader or philosopher (of course various sects claim various parts of the canon as authoritative).

    Now I'm sure some or many concepts actually presented by the Buddha managed to be maintained with some degree of correctness, and still exist in the writings we have. But it's impossible to nail this down. Again - like it or not, this is what we got.

    The Buddhist common disclaimer is "oh, people at that time had great memory capabilities and they were verbally able to pass down the teachings reliably". Really? I'm calling baloney on that. Some Buddhists will also often say that this flexibility is by design of the Buddha and this is valuable, that there is no determinate path. Each person can fashion a "raft" to get to the other side of the proverbial river, and the Buddha's teachings can help, but you have to fashion your own raft. In Zen they would say the Buddha was like pointing a finger at the moon. Don't get hung up on the finger and keep looking at it - the point is the moon (and of course what the "goal" is suggested by this moon is itself another long topic).

    Don't people who are attracted to it have "some" idea of the basic teachings before they dive into the details? What are those basic attractions that get people started down that path in the first place?

    Generally, modern converts to some form of Buddhism encounter one or another flavor of Buddhism (either one of the traditional/regional versions or a more modern variant, or some combination) and they learn their "basics" there.

    Often people then dabble in other versions they hear about, though some folks stick with their original.

    Many peeps discover "Mindfulness", then find out it came from Buddhism and other ancient Indian traditions and they look up local Buddhist groups in their town and off they go to meditate there.

    It's a smorgasbord out there, and one can pick and choose. Today of course we have broad access to all different types of Buddhism in a way that was never even possible a couple of hundred years ago. While there are many shared ideas among different versions and some that certain groups argue are "core" to all Buddhism or most, in reality the ideas criss-cross in complicated ways, and there are also basic, fundamental, radical differences between many of the "Buddhisms".

    So if possible I'd like us to work on a thread for "the rest of us" - Epicureans in particular, of course, who want to get an initial grasp of what is fairly referrable to as generic Buddhism from a Western perspective. That way we can hopefully get a grasp on at least a couple of core concepts.

    I think going after some core concepts is a good idea. My today is really busy, so I apologize I'm going to step away now, after having dumped this out here. I'll try to post some more of my thoughts soon regarding specific concepts, but I just wanted to first throw out this well worn wet blanket in an attempt to maybe cool the flames just a tidge and encourage more focus. "Buddhism" is a bugger to pin down. It's like one of the agents in the Matrix movie. They move fast and they morph. Hard to land a bullet on them.

    I can't even find an example when mindfulness is bad or has harmful effects


    I agree smoothiekiwi, Mindfulness is used for what most folks would consider "positive" purposes - generally. I have it as a technique I keep in my back pocket & I employ it often. It can be a positive tool And being "mindless" all the time is not a great option, IMHO. But, just to make a point ...Mindfulness as a technique can and has been used for about anything. On the extreme end, there is no reason a serial killer or assassin couldn't use it to better focus, control tension and anxiety when attempting a kill, etc. As a concrete example along these lines, Mindfulness is being used for training elite US (and other countries) military personnel - and not just for things like recovery from PTSD, but even for them to be better able to perform in high tension combat situations.


    https://www.psychologytoday.co…ormance-us-special-forces


    Mindfulness training as cognitive training in high-demand cohorts: An initial study in elite military servicemembers
    Cognitive ability is a key selection criterion for entry into many elite professions. Herein, we investigate whether mindfulness training (MT) can enh…
    www.sciencedirect.com


    https://www.army.mod.uk/people/join-well/managing-stress/mindfulness-course/

    Happy Birthday EricR and congrats on being the FIRST birthday entry in the forum! That's prestigious enough, but even better is to find out what birthday gift Cassius is planning to give you! ;)


    How far north are you anyway, Eric? Beyond Grand Marais Minnesota? That's where my little sister lives.


    Peace,

    Scott