Ethics: The Food of Reason and The Shit of Religion

aristotle

I am currently reading Ethics by the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle.  Reading it has lead me to one conclusion: Judaic, Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Zen and Hindu religious texts are so bogged down in metaphorical interpretation they defeat the purpose for which they are created.

Aristotle’s writing is clear, unambiguous and the terminology is well defined.  He clearly states that mature adults benefit more from the study of ethics than those in their adolescence or post adolescence simply because life experience is necessary to provide the foundation for its appreciation.

Aristotle is lucid.  I read his work in a few hours.  I did not need to read any of the commentary provided by the translators or editors.  In fact, I found the commentary a useless distraction.  If a translation requires commentary, the translation has not acheived it’s goal, the translators have been dogmatic.

Aristotle’s greatest achievement is declaring that no one is chosen by anyone.  Existence chooses us and from that point we choose to be who and what we are.

We choose our rights and responsibilities in our social and environmental context.  And in that choice lies goodness and happiness.

“Do to others as you would have others do to you” is not a call for love or hate, but a call for moderation in all things.

Moderation is not a call for mediocrity, but excellence and perfection.  To achieve the state where nothing need be added and nothing need be taken away.

This is one thing: Reciprocitism.

newInfinity

The origin of the word “recipe”.

A balance between self-acceptance and self-rejection.  Induction and Deduction.

I highly recommend reading Ethics over any religious text.  The food of Reason prevails over the shit of Religion.

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Zen: Don’t Think Good or Evil

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If you think good and evil,

You become a person of good and evil.

I recently chanced upon a book sale and was able to purchase a book of Zen koans and a book of Haiku poetry for a fair price.  I had read about Zen in the past, but I had not read actual works by Zen masters.

zeninspirations

I have completed reading Zen Inspirations: Essential Meditations and Text, by Dr. Miram Levering for the first time.  It includes the complete text of The Gateless Gate a thirteenth century collection of koans, commentary and poetry by Ekai, known as Mumon.  The book also includes The Ten Ox-herding Pictures accompanied by ten poems by the twelfth century Chinese monk K’uo-an Shih-yuan It is definitely not something you read only once.  I enjoyed the Zen masters’ admonitions to read the koan and permit yourself to solve it quickly and without hesitation to discover the enlightenment that comes from honesty.  As I read the koans, I let myself be honest about my inner response and the wisdom of the Zen masters became increasingly amusing.  I think I came to be enlightened many times by their frank honesty about the human condition, the Buddha and the Tao.  I think one admonition by Zen master Mumon, that if you encounter someone filled with the Tao, strike him in the face with all the strength you have, sums up what I have learned.

The Zen koans and Taoism I find agree with the philosophy of science, the philosophy of Karl Popper, skepticism, the evolutionary biology of Charles Darwin, the physics of Werner Heisenberg and the mathematics of Kurt Goedel seamlessly.  Uncertainty remains the only certainty.

There is origin without origin, direction without direction, destination without destination.  Any sense of order is localized and transient.  That is the Tao Te and not the Tao Te, and that is what the adherents to Zen struggle with daily.

I don’t claim understanding or overstanding of this paradox.