ETHICS-1-Module-5-study-guide-Aug-2018 Asian Ethical Frameworks and Religious Conceptions.pdf

The realization of the true self is not an easy feat

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The realization of the true-self is not an easy feat because human beings are deceived by what they see and feel in the world of phenomena. In the world of the senses, the true-self manifests only as splintered and veiled phenomena, and entities are deceived into thinking that the phenomenal world is real. This condition of being caught in the illusory world is caused by the distorting principle called Maya . Maya signifies “magic,” “illusion,” or “the power to distort.” Being embodied selves, we are born into this prism of illusion. Our knowledge of reality therefore is false. In Hinduism, this is called Avidya, a positive-wrong- knowledge. Knowledge of this world is considered positive knowledge insofar as it is actual knowledge of phenomena. But it is the wrong kind of knowledge because it veils the true reality. It is our entrapment in this world of illusion that tempts us to cling to it. This is what explains human beings’ obsession with the fruits of Karma or action. In Hinduism, there are three kinds of acts: obligatory, prohibited, and optional. An obligatory act is something that one must always perform precisely because it is one’s obligation to perform it. In the same sense, one must refrain from performing a prohibited act precisely because it is prohibited. Finally, one is always free to perform or not to perform an optional act precisely because it is an optional act. In neither of the three cases does one gain a reward for one’s action. Acts are performed or not performed according to the nature of the acts: performed if obligatory, avoided if prohibited, and may be performed or not if it is optional. The question of what one gains in following this ethical code is articulated in terms not of reward but of punishment. This means that if one performs a prohibited act, and does not perform an obligatory act, one gains ‘karmic’ particles. In Hinduism, karmic particles stand for the ‘fruits of Karma ’ or the fruits of action. These karmic particles serve as weights or chains that bind the spirit to the world of phenomena. The more one gains karmic particles, the longer one is to be bound to the cycle of transmigration. The goal of life and action in Hinduism is detachment from these fruits or consequences of actions. Acts must be performed/not performed purely for their own sake and not for some reward. This is called Niskamakarma or no ( nis ) pleasure ( kama ) action ( karma ). It is the only way one can gradually be released from the chains of Karma . This narrative is the Hindu explanation for the cycle of birth-rebirth referred to as Samsara or transmigration. The process of transmigration is the eschatological catharsis of the human Page of 3 31
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ETHICS 1 - Ethics and Moral Reasoning in Everyday Life spirit towards realizing its true nature, or the overcoming of Maya (illusion) and Avidya (ignorance) , and the obsession with the fruits of Karma (action) in the world of phenomena.
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  • Spring '10
  • Johnson
  • Buddhism, Chinese philosophy, Dao De Jing, Bhagavad Gita Ch

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