Is it justified to apply reflexive criticism to sastra?

Regardless, what I've said is correct.
You asked about validity, not truth.

I was not questioning your reply. :)


I appreciate the concern, but don't see the relevance to the OP.
What does validity of reasoning have to do with the trust of the members of a religion?

A lot.
An outsider / a beginner per definition is not yet able to discern the truth of the statements made in the spiritual literature and by the members of said religion.
So the outsider / beginner cannot but rely on the members, if he is ever to make progress.
Just like any student relies on his teachers.
I don't think there is anything wrong with that dynamic.

But what about the situation when the members have betrayed the beginner's trust, or when the members show little or no interest in the beginner, but the beginner still has some trust in the literature?
What about the situation when the relationship between the beginner and the members is one of coldness, indifference, or even hostility?
 
Why do Jan Ardena and Lightgigantic not reply in this thread?
What do they wish to communicate with their silence?
 
How do you decide which portions of scripture are most important and you refer to them more than others? How do you deal with what at least seem like contradictions? How do you decide how to apply scripture? Is it really simply via deduction? (for example)

or, how do you decide how to interpret?

midrash has always been fruitful and creative, whereas christian hermeneutics tends to be rather staid and snooze-worthy. (again, the obvious exceptions--the meister eckharts, et al--aside.) reb so-and-so states that god gave kayen (cain) a dog to accompany him in his exilic wanderings in the land of nod; christians would think that blasphemous.

and why do the opponents (atheists and whatnots) always insist upon the fundamentalist readings? i mean, it's pretty freakin' obvious that that shit is wack.

As a tangent, but a related one, I was struck reading the Bible by how radically different the foci were of different preachers, churches. That whole areas were ignored and other points that seemed rather small to me because whole areas of doctrine for a church. I also thought it was strange that Paul, for example, could become so central. I mean, he's kind of a meta figure. A commentator.

indeed. i've always found this rather odd, but then again, paul was a master propagandist and marketer. and the varied foci seem to reflect the most personal concerns of the author(s) and his contemporaries. i'm reminded of muslim attitudes towards dogs here: rabies just ain't that rampant anymore.
 
or, how do you decide how to interpret?

midrash has always been fruitful and creative, whereas christian hermeneutics tends to be rather staid and snooze-worthy. (again, the obvious exceptions--the meister eckharts, et al--aside.) reb so-and-so states that god gave kayen (cain) a dog to accompany him in his exilic wanderings in the land of nod; christians would think that blasphemous.

and why do the opponents (atheists and whatnots) always insist upon the fundamentalist readings? i mean, it's pretty freakin' obvious that that shit is wack.
And then of course, what is the point of a parable if one is going to be literal. Oddly I often find that these are taken rather literally even by Christians and limited to what is 'in' the story.

indeed. i've always found this rather odd, but then again, paul was a master propagandist and marketer. and the varied foci seem to reflect the most personal concerns of the author(s) and his contemporaries. i'm reminded of muslim attitudes towards dogs here: rabies just ain't that rampant anymore.
Perhaps it is pleasant that he forms a bridge out of Judaism. I don't know.
 
The question was not "Is a guru necessary?"
I do not at all doubt that a guru is necessary.

The question was about how to choose a particular guru - whether to go for Swami X or Swami Y or Swami Z (or Roshi A, Roshi B, or Father D or Reverend G?), and how to justify that choice.

Even within one tradition, the situation is everything but homogenous. Different teachers have at least slightly different teachings, different moods, different reputations, and different kinds of pressure exist in relation to each teacher.

I might personally not like a particular guru - but perhaps he has the most accurate knowledge of the Dharma, it's just that I do not know that, given that I don't particularly like him and don't spend much time reading/listening to him.
Like most other relationships, the medium it is formed through is communication (or sravanam kirtanam, if you want to get specific about gurus). As for exactly who we form a relationship with, that is similarly complex. For instance a two people can spend all day talking about how they hate their partner, but one is on the brink of filing for divorce and the other wouldn't consider it in their wildest dreams (although admittedly divorce isn't such a wild option given the current social climate).

IOW even if one draws up a checklist of characteristics of people we draw relationships with, we find that probably most of the people who we are actually friendly with have some (or many) characteristics that stand outside of such a list.

IOW such a discussion (of similarity) revolves around general principles and not details.
I have already experienced that talking about the same problem with different instructors can result in getting very different instructions.
One can also get very different instructions from medical practitioners .. yet they can all be categorized under the banner of professionals who work in the medical field (aimed at increasing one's medical benefit ... just so we can exclude the snake oil peddlers or what have you).

And that said, it all begins at the point of our having faith that such a person is acting in our best interests - that's what gives them the leverage for us to take up their advice.
Especially since the general point being made is that to a materially conditioned person (like myself), the mode of goodness is like sugar to a jaundiced person - unappealing. Does this mean that whatever I find unappealing, this is what I should take up? The more miserable I feel at doing something, the more I should do it?
My experience is that a guru speaks only generally to their disciples until a strong bond is created. That's because the act of instructing in situations otherwise is like water off a ducks back.
It tends to be that the neophyte has an artificial estimation on the reserves of surrender that they have for a guru (a lot of disciples are like shooting stars - spend about 2/4 years in the hot seat and then they disappear off the radar)


How did you know which guru to choose?
Was it somehow never an issue for you?
Did you "just know" which guru is the right one for you, so there was no question choosing among them?
Or did you have such trust in all the initiating gurus that you were convinced that any one of them would be good enough, so you simply took initiation as soon as you fulfilled the formal requirements for it, with whomever was giving initation at the time?
(Or did you get initiated at the time when the "zonal acharya system" was in place, so you had no real choice in whom to take initiation from?)
I chose to take initiation from a guru who had only a handful of disciples. Over a period of about 12 years he had about 10 disciples (just recently he has started initiating more - I think the number is about 400 - most of whom took shelter over the past 5 years) - practically everyone didn't recommend such an option, so I thought about it quite a lot. I took initiation about 5 years after initially asking.
Basically you are looking for someone who can convince you of the importance of spiritual life, so a whole lot of things come in to play - eg how their personal life strikes you, how they can answer your questions, how they feel about you, etc.

And if it was a non-issue for you, could you tell some more about it - what were the qualities that you had, what were your circumstances, what certainties you had that in your estimation most significantly contributed to your choice of guru not being an issue for you?


Moreover, how were you sure, apparently from early on, that your understanding of the spiritual literature is correct, or at least satisfactory - so that you were confident to proceed on the path as you understood it to be - ?
Actually its persons who feel that their understanding of spiritual literature is adequate who never take a guru (although sometimes there is a strange competitive thing where an - apparent - disciple will try and take initiation of a guru just to show him how much they know about spiritual life :shrug: ) ... IOW to understand that one is in ignorance requires a little bit of knowledge.
 
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How do you know when to apply "humans have a tendency to make mistakes", and when not?

Do you apply it when you decide to chant (thereby thinking that your chanting could be a mistake)?
And if not, why not?

If scripture says "do this", is it always right to do it?

You ALWAYS apply "humans have a tendency to make mistakes." That is not the same thing as "humans always make mistakes." According to that sastra, you should be wary of anything anyone (including yourself) does, and the decisions they/you make, for humans have a tendency to make mistakes. There is nothing wrong with action that could be a mistake; there is no course of action that is guaranteed to be without error.

And to answer your final question, I would say that generally speaking, if a scripture says "do this" it IS always right to do it. You do however have to take the entire body of scripture into account to fully understand the context of your instructions, and at some point you have to recognize that your effort to follow a specific set of scriptures (i.e. instructions) reflects your chosen beliefs. IOW, you do what you BELIEVE to be correct - but as we previously noted, humans have a tendency to make mistakes. :)
 
As a tangent, but a related one, I was struck reading the Bible by how radically different the foci were of different preachers, churches. That whole areas were ignored and other points that seemed rather small to me because whole areas of doctrine for a church. I also thought it was strange that Paul, for example, could become so central. I mean, he's kind of a meta figure. A commentator.

I think what you are describing here is just what was noted in the initial post - humans have a tendency to make mistakes. The vast variety of "Christian" sects have no doubt all made a mistake in their theology to one degree or another. At some point, some person (or group of people) were really struck by one particular point (or scripture), and the more they rallied behind it (or railed against it), the larger the group became. It is for this reason that I believe it is silly for atheistic groups to mount an offense against such sects - they are doing the same thing the various sects did in reverse - and why it is that much more important to gather knowledge from every sect - and even every line of thought, extending beyond one's chosen "religion" to make an enlightened decision about one's beliefs.

And continue to recognize that humans have a tendency to make mistakes. :)

(I have a saying I like to use... "If you are not seeking the Truth, you will never find it." Whether you are convinced you have already found it, or you just don't care - you are guaranteed to not find it if you aren't seeking it.)
 
If you use system of statements S in order to dismiss system of statements S,
then you have not actually dismissed system of statements S.
Your dismissal of S is based on acknowledging S as the authoritative criterion.
In short, you cannot dismiss it unless you accept it as undismissable.
Which is absurd ...

Au contraire. It is by this very mechanism that system of statements S is shown to be untrue. You are not ACKNOWLEDGING S as the authoritative criterion, but rather TESTING it. If the system of statements S has integrity, then it can withstand such testing. If it does not, it can be dismissed automatically. Of course, just having structural integrity doesn't make it TRUE, simply valid.

It's kind of like calculating pi to the millionth degree. You can establish that it is valid by testing it, but your have not shown to be true that your number IS 'pi', but rather that it COULD BE 'pi' (in the authoritative sense). Of course, in a system of infinites, you can never prove anything - but that is why it is critical to acknowledge not that you "know" but that you "believe".
 
The question was not "Is a guru necessary?"
I do not at all doubt that a guru is necessary.

The question was about how to choose a particular guru - whether to go for Swami X or Swami Y or Swami Z (or Roshi A, Roshi B, or Father D or Reverend G?), and how to justify that choice.

Even within one tradition, the situation is everything but homogenous. Different teachers have at least slightly different teachings, different moods, different reputations, and different kinds of pressure exist in relation to each teacher.

I might personally not like a particular guru - but perhaps he has the most accurate knowledge of the Dharma, it's just that I do not know that, given that I don't particularly like him and don't spend much time reading/listening to him.

I have already experienced that talking about the same problem with different instructors can result in getting very different instructions.

Especially since the general point being made is that to a materially conditioned person (like myself), the mode of goodness is like sugar to a jaundiced person - unappealing. Does this mean that whatever I find unappealing, this is what I should take up? The more miserable I feel at doing something, the more I should do it?


How did you know which guru to choose?
Was it somehow never an issue for you?
Did you "just know" which guru is the right one for you, so there was no question choosing among them?
Or did you have such trust in all the initiating gurus that you were convinced that any one of them would be good enough, so you simply took initiation as soon as you fulfilled the formal requirements for it, with whomever was giving initation at the time?
(Or did you get initiated at the time when the "zonal acharya system" was in place, so you had no real choice in whom to take initiation from?)

And if it was a non-issue for you, could you tell some more about it - what were the qualities that you had, what were your circumstances, what certainties you had that in your estimation most significantly contributed to your choice of guru not being an issue for you?


Moreover, how were you sure, apparently from early on, that your understanding of the spiritual literature is correct, or at least satisfactory - so that you were confident to proceed on the path as you understood it to be - ?

I would argue that the very approach you are describing represents faith in the person rather than faith in the system (or religion, or theology, or whatever term you wish to apply), which is to be avoided. You can learn others' perspective, but it is critical to understand not just what they teach (or say), but also WHY. You should make your own decisions about what something means, and the more knowledge you gain from a wider set of perspectives the more you are equipped to come to that Truth.
 
Really? So you think "Truth" just falls upon those not seeking it?
It literally does sometimes. I'd hate to bring in a probably made up story about Newton here, but then I just did. Here in the Eastern philosophy forum we can mention that a number of the Eastern approaches to finding truth deal with stopping our habitual processes. Or to make that even more passive

to no longer engage in them.

Seeking being just another yangy process with built in assumptions - filters, distortions, forms of denial - that can also get in the way.

Though there are paradoxes presented around this: seeking can be seen as a better kind of active process that while distorting tends to unravel itself.

Anyway, I am really, insidiously selling my thread in Philosophy on unlearning.
 
Is it justified to apply reflexive criticism to sastra?

If yes, in what way and why?
If not, why not?



For example, a person may think:
I accept sastra.
Sastra says that humans tend to make mistakes.
I am human.
Therefore, it could be that my acceptance of sastra is a mistake (and I might therefore have to consider rejecting sastra).

Is this reasoning valid?



Thank you for your input.

Hmmm.

Human make mistakes. So they, out of mistakes of own, might not understand sastras.

So a human might be making a bigger mistake rejecting sastras.
 
Especially since the general point being made is that to a materially conditioned person (like myself), the mode of goodness is like sugar to a jaundiced person - unappealing. Does this mean that whatever I find unappealing, this is what I should take up? The more miserable I feel at doing something, the more I should do it?
My experience is that a guru speaks only generally to their disciples until a strong bond is created. That's because the act of instructing in situations otherwise is like water off a ducks back.

The jaundice reference is to mean:

A person is disqualified (ie. jaundiced) from the onset; a person is from the onset denied any ability to make the right choice.
Still, a person is then requested to make a choice, even though they are not thought to have the qualification.

A person is expected to believe that they cannot do it, and then they are supposed to do it.

How does this make sense?

It is like when a teacher tells a student:
"You are stupid, you cannot read. Now read this paragraph."
If the student is to read, he has to go against the first statement made by the teacher. And if he does read, the teacher can say "You are stupid, you cannot read."

If a person actually believed they are jaundiced, they would eat anything that would be distasteful, thinking that it could be sugar, and they are supposed to eat sugar.


Basically you are looking for someone who can convince you of the importance of spiritual life, so a whole lot of things come in to play - eg how their personal life strikes you, how they can answer your questions, how they feel about you, etc.

But if you believe you are jaundiced, you cannot consider any of that, at least not with any sense of sanity or conviction.

How do you avoid the conclusion "He is a good teacher. It is just that I am so materially conditioned that I don't see it. So even though I do not like him and do not feel inspired by him, I should take shelter of him anyway." -?
 
I would argue that the very approach you are describing represents faith in the person rather than faith in the system (or religion, or theology, or whatever term you wish to apply), which is to be avoided. You can learn others' perspective, but it is critical to understand not just what they teach (or say), but also WHY. You should make your own decisions about what something means, and the more knowledge you gain from a wider set of perspectives the more you are equipped to come to that Truth.

"You should make your own decisions about what something means" - but this is precisely the problem here.
Scriptures tell you in advance that you are wrong, that you cannot do anything right, since you are materially conditioned, selfish and otherwise defect.
If you "made your own decision about what something means", you would be acting against scripture.
 
Human make mistakes. So they, out of mistakes of own, might not understand sastras.

So a human might be making a bigger mistake rejecting sastras.

But if they accept them, how can they know how to apply them in their lives?

For example, God says He will annihilate the miscreants. How do you know you are not one such miscreant who will be annihilated?
 
“ Originally Posted by rcscwc
Human make mistakes. So they, out of mistakes of own, might not understand sastras.

So a human might be making a bigger mistake rejecting sastras. ”

But if they accept them, how can they know how to apply them in their lives?

For example, God says He will annihilate the miscreants. How do you know you are not one such miscreant who will be annihilated?

I know who mischievious is. No, not a non Hindu. Even a fundy Hindu can be that.

For xians/muslims mischievious means those who do not thump their book, mortgaging their reason.
 
I know who mischievious is. No, not a non Hindu. Even a fundy Hindu can be that.

For xians/muslims mischievious means those who do not thump their book, mortgaging their reason.

You haven't answered the question, at least not in a way comprehensible to me.

And it is about the miscreants, not the mischievous.
 
“ Originally Posted by rcscwc
I know who mischievious is. No, not a non Hindu. Even a fundy Hindu can be that.

For xians/muslims mischievious means those who do not thump their book, mortgaging their reason. ”
You haven't answered the question, at least not in a way comprehensible to me.

And it is about the miscreants, not the mischievous.

Same about miscreants.
 
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