Friday, 15 January 2010

Buddhist Ethics - Context

First we must see the context in which Buddhism arose. I like using a comparison between the times of the Buddha and our own age as a way to engage the students, so that they think about contemporary society and what it might have been like to be alive in the age of the Buddha.

First we look at six aspects of the "Age of the Wanderers" as it has been called, a time of great change and social transformation in early India.

Then we wonder about similarities between then and now. It's pretty amazing when we put these side by side. We are in an age of incredible change, just as the Buddha was 2500 years ago. Who are the modern Brahmanas and Shramanas?

If the students understand just this, and engage with it intellectually and imaginatively, the rest will flow like the waters of the Ganges... 

1 comment:

  1. Yo, Justin,

    While our Age and the Age when Buddha was knocking about have categorical similarities, I do wonder if the similarities, Age v Age, are as much alike as you say.

    In the book The Renaissance sense of the past great differences in the life experience of our distance progenitors and us is illuminated.

    People 2500 years ago, or even as recent as 600 years ago, had no perspective on time & change other than the span of their own life up until the 'now' they were experiencing.

    They didn't know/sense that significant change happened. They didn't understand the evidence of change, other than what occured narrowly in their own period of existance up till (their) 'now.'

    You might want to get your mitts on Peter Burke's book [it's a very small book] to see if it adds to an understanding of what life was like in Buddha's day.

    I think that the importance of 'change' in our religion was a more significant insight than what we suppose.