Tuesday, August 30, 2005

book baton

i've been passed the book baton by electra,

number of books on shelf :
no idea, i have collected such a huge number of books (half of them only half read) they have overflowed out of the shelves in to the floor and presently covers about a quarter of the floor area of my spare room.

last book purchased :
moby dick - herman melville , haven't started on it yet, though i read about a half of it when i was a school boy.

book i am reading right now/last books read :
i have this bad habit of reading several books at the same time that i end up not finishing a large proportion of them. Currently following books are lying dog-eared or half opened all over the place.

The charterhose of parma - stendhal – the scarlet and the black, is one of my all time favorites, can't say the same for this one though its good.

brideshead revisited - evelyn waugh – very good

the confessions – rousseau – just started

the story of the stone – cao xueqin (vol 1(golden days) in the penguin translation)- brilliant 18th century chinese novel/whatever- i read the last four volumes a long time ago(vol 2(crab flower club) got me hooked), lake house bookshop had only those 4, and though i was on the lookout for vol 1, had no luck anywhere until last week when i found it in a used book stall. will definitely finish it today.

The first man – albert camus - last unfinished novel of a great (in my opinion) author – just read the introduction.

books that mean a lot to me :
little women – louisa may alcott - this may seem funny but until i read this when i was 13 i was not exactly in the habit of reading books.

the bible – esp. genesis, exodus, joshua, judges, kings, chronicles, ruth and esther from the old testament, simply love all those stories, always remember to read the unabridged versions straight from the bible and ignore the sanitized versions, you will be suprised

the brothers karamazav – dostoevsky – my favorite novel, after getting run over by 'the grand inquisitor' (probably the greatest single piece of philosophy ever written ) i was forced to rethink all my values from scratch

the myth of sisyphus - albert camus – starts with 'there is one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide' no need to say more.

history of the peloponnesian war- thucydides – that's the way 'history' should be written.

story of civilization (11 vols) - will and ariel(in later vols) durant - just imagine jostein gaarder's sophie's world , grown 50 times larger with all the boring details filled in with a lot of art history. those volumes from the american center usually weighed more than all my other school books combined and also taught me a lot more too.


Surfer said...

Hi Sittingnut, if you enjoy reading the Bible you might also enjoy going through these as well :)


Peace and Good Wishes!

sittingnut said...

thanks for the thought. but i have read the dhammapada and enjoyed it but it didn't 'mean a lot' to me.

Surfer said...

well "each to his/her own" :)

This might be a bit controversial but you might find it interesting none the less:


sittingnut said...

i think buddhism like all other religions (correct word btw in my opinion) is a result of peoples desire to escape from the reality - that there is nothing after death, that there is no objective way to differentiate between good and bad.

surfer said...

I like materialism too :) I've also wondered what if there's nothing beyond death, you die and that's it. "good" and "bad" are just perceptions, but in the conditioned world we live in, they are real...... or are they......??

sittingnut said...

who said anything about materialism? :-) why would anyone who doesn't want to hide behind religion (buddhism included) 'wonder' what's after death, we know there is nothing. as for elaborately constructed supernatural theories (karma, god or whatever) that are used by religions to differentiate 'good' from 'bad', they are simply superfluous.

at least the bible is honest about it - 'believe in god and obey his morality or you will be damned'. it doesn't pretend to be some sort of scientific/philosophical theory it isn't , unfortunately buddhism does and fails miserably and exposes its weak supernatural foundations, at the first touch of rational examination.

as neitzsche said one should always philosophize with a hammer... tap, tap, ah that hollow sound!

Surfer said...

Actually I think that at the first touch of rational examination Christianty (especially) falls down like a pack of cards. In fact, Christianity and other Judeo-Christian religions stands on faith and nothing more; "faith" is the saving grace. It is BASED on blind belief and that is I believe highly unscientific. Personally I think Islam has far many less holes than Christianity (as far as monotheism goes).

One of the more interesting concepts is that of a big daddy in heaven punishing and rewarding as he/she/it fits. So is the idea of man born from a virgin who dies and then flies into "heaven" :) None of these are really scientific, in fact, they are supernatural. But they form the basis of Christianity and the Bible (which in reality is a collection of the Jewish people's history embellished with stories of a vengeful god who goes around killing first born children, bringing plagues upon people and inciting fathers to kill their sons in order to prove their loyalty).

In other words, the Bible is not honest at all, it lies and lies a lot. The world was apparently created in seven days remember and women were made out of a man's rib. And scholars have argued that several of the incidents mentioned it it never probably happened at all.

I don't think Buddhism pretends to be scientific at all. That's the way YOU and many neo-converts see it, when in reality it is simply a spiritual path :)

The way I see it Materialism is going to rule the roost and people better get used to it.

sittingnut said...

you seems to have not read my earlier post , as i said there, christianity (the bible) is based on belief , and freely admits to that fact and does not pretend to be scientific. to explain further so you don't misunderstand again, if someone believes god exists, its easy and may be even logical to believe in all the other nonsense (e.g virgin birth, creation. etc.). in that sense it is honest. so don't get worked up about things that were not disputed.

whats a 'neo-convert'?:-)

buddhism may be a 'spiritual path' (whatever that is) but it like all other religions is rooted in a supernatural belief (specifically in this case the karmic principle) that fails 'like a pack of cards' when rationally examined. but unlike christianity or islam it also pretends to be rational and materialistic when it patently isn't. that's why it is also dishonest.

materialism may or may not 'rule the roost' but buddhism is not materialistic. nor will buddhism like all other religions, have a place in a purely rationalistic society.

Surfer said...

Sorry I gotta disagree. Christianity has for a long time tried to marry itself to science - unlike Buddhism. Besides that, Christianity in the past tried to control science, even going to the extent of burning people alive for thinking differently. The chasing-after-science is even obvious today where Christians are trying to strong-arm their supernatural beliefs into SCIENCE classrooms in the USA, and incorporate dinosaurs into their seven day creation theory. You won't find Buddhists, Hindus or Muslims doing that :)

Ever run into evangelists? I have, and each of them try to convince me of the validity of Christianity by citing none other than Science. Is it because if they teach me the airy fairy stuff I won't be able to believe them? Besides that, the Christian God, my friend, is not logical at all. The only somewhat logical God is the Hindu God who is impersonal. The theory of "free will" and an "all-knowing God" does not stand up to testing. So I disagree there too, belief in the Christian God is not "easy" and not even remotely "logical" :)

A new convert is a convert who converted the other day :)

I believe the karmic principle to be supernatural only in the bit about it working beyond this lifetime and working in a previous lifetime. Other than that I think it makes sense and we can see it working in real life through cause and effect. It certainly makes more sense than a big daddy throwing thunderbolts from the sky and punishing and rewarding people according to his/her/its whim and then pretending to be all-compassionate and all-just and all-merciful.

I don't think Buddhism pretends to be anything but a path that supposedly leads to the extinction of suffering.

What I call materialism is the lack of belief in a God, after-life, no soul, no special purpose in life. We are born and we die and that's it. There is no such thing as good and bad (as far as the consequences for such actions go) and we ought to live it up as much as we like, because we only have one life, this one.

That is NOT Buddhism :)

sittingnut said...

lets get some facts straight. i am not a christian especially not a new convert.:-). but your willful and uninformed distortions and confused arguments means i have to set the record straight with regard to christianity. a ironic predicament i personally regard with some amusement.

first you confuse the messenger with the message. remember this discussion started with the bible and the bible never claims to be scientific it insists again and again on belief and faith not science. to object to christianity because of the actions of some self styled christians is no more logical than to object to the buddhism because of the actions of sinhala chauvinist jhu/jvp monks or the corruption of mahanaykes or the temporal pretensions of the dalai lama or the silly claims made by buddhists and their apologists at various forums or the prosecution of other religions (including bloodlettings) by buddhists that went/goes on in sri lanka/japan/thailand or mayanmar.

second if people accepts a super natural belief they will follow the logic that results from that belief . so if they accept god it follow they will accept a lot of other nonsense such as virgin birth, creation etc. and will try to bend facts to fit their belief. as i said earlier that is consistent and logical for them and i am not sure why you fail to get it and needlessly gets worked up. either you don't understand the argument or you are so fixated in denying god, like those 18th century french philosophers (did you by chance recently read voltaire?) that you ignore it. in fact i think it's the latter (though you may not be aware of it), the second website you referred to stinks of old rags and cheese. just remember, this discussion is not about the existence of god but the irrationality of religions including buddhism, so cool down.:-)

third , almost all buddhists i know (in contrast to majority of followers of other religions) make the argument that buddhism is not a irrational religion but a rational philosophy and some claim that it is consistent with modern science. such false claims needs to be debunked. but if you now accept that buddhism is not consistent with science so much the better

now to get back to the main discussion:

'I think it(karmic principle) makes sense and we can see it working in real life through cause and effect.' really ? lets hear how you explain the effects on victims of the tsunami. mass murder, terrorism, child abuse etc. without the supernatural 'bit about it working beyond this lifetime and working in a previous lifetime'. be my guest!

thing is nobody can explain these in a purely rational moral system that is why people invent elaborate supernatural beliefs (god, karma etc) and hide behind them.

'buddhism .. a path that supposedly leads to the extinction of suffering.' true, like all the other religions it too offers some escape from reality (after defining it as 'suffering') and all of them imports supernatural beliefs for that.

one can not judge between these underlying beliefs because they are ... well supernatural. any rational examination means death to them. however one can judge the results and 'evangelists' win hands down if one compares the number of converts. :-)

in fact if one limits oneself to purely rational appraisal of reality one will end up with what you call 'materialism'(which as you now admit is not buddhism) only you show your poor understanding of the situation by referring to 'living it up' there is no question of living it up or down you simply live . why or how? that's what modern philosophical debates are about, so drop those 18th century philosophers and read some modern ones (existentialists, post modernists etc.) and come to your own conclusions. myth of sisyphus by albert camus, i referred to in my book baton is good place to start..