Karma In The 21st Century

During this talk, Peter again emphasized how different 21st century culture is from the time of the Buddha.  During that era, it was assumed that a person’s karma was determined by what clan he or she was born into, and karma was equivalent to fate.  The Buddha’s radical change was claim that a person’s salvation from suffering, related to karma, depends upon his or her ethical behaviors, not birth status.  Peter further emphasized that modern scientific research also suggests that relief from suffering is ethical, in that the different regions of the brain recruited in the process of developing a personal narrative work best when the results represent kindness rather than self-absorption.  During next week’s talk, this topic will be revisited to explore how modern neuroscience takes the place of old Brahmanic philosophy, to make sense of the universe of human consciousness.

[s3mm type=”audio” files=”wp-content/uploads/2013/07/11130447/Karma In The 21st Century.mp3″ /]

Evidence Based Precepts

Beginning with a long excerpt from the Kalama Sutta, Peter emphasized the Buddha’s teaching on personal validation of the concepts within Buddhism.  The Kalamas were a tribe of critical thinkers who enjoyed challenging priests and philosophers regarding their presentations to the tribe.  The Buddha exhorted them to not take anything on face value, but instead to validate or invalidate a particular self-state through mindfulness, organized around the ethics described in the Five Precepts: not to kill, steal, misbehave sexually, speak deceptively or hurtfully, and to not intoxicate the body/mind.  The group was challenged to examine carefully how they can assess in their own experience how, for example, hostility toward an insect might be acceptable–but then, where does one draw the line?  What is it about your direct, immediate experience that forms your response?  The dialogue was so engaging and lively that it was agreed to continue the discussion at the next meeting.