Tag Archives: philosophy/religion

Bhartrihari

“Bhartrihari: (7th century AD) Hindu poet. Bartrihari is considered by many to be the greatest writer of Sanskrit lyric poetry. Some of his verses have been widely translated, under the titles Good Conduct, Passion of Love, Renunciation. It is disputed whether or not he is the grammarian of the same name and author of Vakyapadiya (Treatise on Words and Sentences), who probably lived in the 6th century AD.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Cultural Literacy: Hinduism

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Hinduism. This is a full-page document; the reading is four sentences long from which five comprehension questions follow. Hinduism–particularly its lineage leading to Buddhism–is a complex subjects to which. I’ll hazard a guess, entire academic careers are dedicated. Accordingly, there is a compound sentence in the middle of this reading on Hinduism and the caste system that may cause a bump in the road for emergent readers and new users of the English language.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Buddhism

“Buddhism  A major world religion numbering over 300 million followers (exact estimates are impossible since Buddhism does not preclude other religious beliefs). Early Buddhism developed from Hinduism thought the teaching of Siddartha Gautama and his disciples, around 5th century BC in northern India. Under leaders such as the emperor Asoka, who converted to Buddhism and encouraged it spread, the religion provided a stabilizing structure throughout India. Offering a way to salvation that did not depend on caste or the ritualism of the Brahmin priesthood of Hinduism, and strengthened by a large, disciplined monastic order (the sangha), it made a very great impact; but by the end of the 1st millenium AD it had lost ground to a resurgent Hinduism, and the subsequent Muslim invasions virtually extinguished it in India. Meanwhile, however, monks had taken the faith all over Asia, to central and northern areas now in Afghanistan, Mongolia, China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam; and in south and southeast Asia to Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. The final phase of Buddhist expansion, after the 7th century, saw the emergence of Tantric and Tibetan Buddhism.

Owing to its linguistic diversity and geographical extent, Buddhist teaching, scripture and observance are complex and varied, but certain main doctrines are characteristic. Buddhism asserts that all phenomena are linked together in an endless chain of dependency. Buddhism teaches that the suffering of the world is cause by desire conditioned by ignorance, but that by following the path of the Buddha, release from the cycle of rebirth can be achieved….”

Excerpted from: Wright, Edmund, Ed. The Oxford Desk Encyclopedia of World History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

The Weekly Text, 20 May 2022, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Week III: A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on The Dalai Lama

In its continuing observance of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2022, Mark’s Text Terminal offers this reading on The Dalai Lama with its attendant vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

Were you aware that the succession of the Dalai Lama has become primarily a political, rather than spiritual, process? Neither had the Tibetans who await the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama–Martin Scorsese did a fine job of relating this process in his film Kundun. I’ve followed this story for several years. I don’t know about you, but I watch with interest to see the outcome. That may mean two Dalai Lamas enter the world stage after Tenzin Gyatso, the current (14th) Lama, leaves this world: one a geopolitical figure representing China, the other serving Tibetan Buddhists wherever they may be in their diaspora.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Vinaya–The 227 Rules

Vinaya are the 227 rules by which a Buddhist monk of the Theravada tradition must conduct himself—conspicuous in his orange robes, shaven head, and barefoot—though he is free to disrobe himself of this obedience at any time.

As the Buddha’s preaching and influence spread, it became the habit of his various beggar-followers to gather together during the time of the monsoon, when traveling was impossible. In these informal forest gatherings, his followers would ask for guidance about the various practical problems that had come their way, The Buddha’s responses were not written down during his lifetime but three months after his death it is believed that his chief followers recited what they could remember, dividing this oral spiritual inheritance into either Dharma ‘doctrine’ or Vinaya ‘discipline.’ There were 227 pieces of Vinaya advice for male followers—and 311 for women. An attempt was made to order them into some sort of priority but this was abandoned. By the time of the Third Buddhist Council, assembled at the invitation of the Emperor Ashoka, this heritage had already expanded into eighteen different scholarly traditions.

The Theravada tradition is that followed in modern Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Sri Lanka.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Abbas I, known as Abbas the Great

“Abbas I known as Abbas the Great: (1571-1629) Shah of Persia 1587-1629. Succeeding his father, Sultan Muhammad Shah, he strengthened the Savafid dynasty by expelling Ottoman and Uzbek troops and creating a standing army. He made Esfahan Persia’s capital, and under Abbas it became one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Persian artistic achievement reached a high point during his reign, when illuminated manuscripts, ceramics, and painting all flourished, and the Portuguese, Dutch, and English competed for trade relations with Persia. Tolerant in public life (he granted privileges to Christian groups) and concerned for his people’s welfare, his fear of personal security and ruthlessness led him to blind or execute many of his immediate family.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

The Weekly Text, 13 May 2022, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Week II: A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on Shiite and Sunni Muslims

For the second week of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2022, here is a reading on Shiites and Sunnis in Islam with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

If you have followed the United States’ war on Iraq, you have undoubtedly heard of the strained relations, between these two branches of Islam, which have occasionally broken out into violent, internecine conflicts. In just about every respect, the tensions between these two communities of belief are standard religious conflicts; they resemble the European wars of religion that broke out during the Protestant Reformation. You can see elements of the Sunni-Shia schism in the Iran-Saudi Arabia proxy war, which has devastated Yemen.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Cultural Literacy: Mao Zedong

This Cultural Literacy worksheet on Mao Zedong is a full-page document: it contains a seven-sentence reading with seven comprehension questions. In other words, it is suitable for a variety of functions in a social studies (yeesh to that term, as always) classroom. This worksheet, like virtually every posted document on this website, is formatted in Microsoft Word. That means it is open to your editorial hand, should it not quite address your curricular requirements or the needs of your students.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

The Weekly Text, 6 May 2021, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Week I: A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on Confucianism

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (which I have shortened, for typographical purposes, as above, to Asian Pacific American Heritage Month; I hope I offend no one with this stylistic liberty). As usual Mark’s Text Terminal will observe the month with a series of document posts and quotes relating to the history of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans as well as Asia and the Pacific Islands themselves.

So, let’s kick off the month with this reading on Confucianism along with its attendant vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Anti-Intellectualism

Anti-Intellectualism: A self-validation ritual created by and for intellectuals.

There is no reason to believe that large parts of any population wish to reject learning or those who are learned. People want the best for their society and themselves. The extent to which a populace falls back on superstition or violence can be traced to the ignorance in which their elites have managed to keep them, the ill-treatment they have suffered, and the despair into which a combination of ignorance and suffering have driven them.

Given the opportunity, those who know and have less want themselves or their children to know and have more. They understand perfectly that learning is central to general well-being. The disappearance of the old working-class in Germany, France, and northern Italy between 1945 and 1980 is a remarkable example of this understanding.

Yet political movements continue to capitalize on the sark side of populism. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s a number of groups gathered national support—Jean-Marie Le Pen and his Front National in France, Ross Perot in the United States, the new German Right, the Reform Party and the Bloc Quebecois in Canada, the Northern League, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the neo-Fascist movement in Italy. These movements share the same message, each in their local way. It combines a simplistic as opposed to straightforward approach to public affairs with the ability to tap the public’s disgust over the established elites.

The conclusion drawn by the Platonists—who account for most of our elites—us that the population constitutes a deep and dangerous well of ignorance and irrationality; if our civilization is in crisis the fault must lie with the populace which is not rising to the inescapable challenges. And yet civilizations do not collapse because the citizenry are corrupt or lazy or anti-intellectual. These people do not have the power or influence to either lead or destroy. Civilizations collapse when those who have power fail to do their job. Ross Perot was created by Harvard, not by illiterate farmers.

Our elites are concerned by what they see as intellectual Luddism all around them—television, films and music prospering at the lowest common denominator; spreading functional illiteracy; a lack of public appreciation for the expertise which the elites see as guiding all aspects of human life. It appears to them as if the populace is stubbornly refusing to fill an appropriate role in a corporatist society.

Perhaps this is because the anti-intellectualism over which the elites make such a fuss is in fact the reply of the citizenry to both the elites’ own pretension of leadership and their failure to lead successfully. This profoundly pyramidal model of leadership takes the form of obscure language, controlled information and the reduction of individual participation at almost all levels to one of pure function.

The elites have masked their failures by insisting that the population is lazy, reads junk, watches television and is badly educated. The population has responded by treating the elites with a contempt reminiscent of the attitudes of the pre-modern underclasses.

If economics are rendered incomprehensible except to experts and in addition are unable to deal with our economic problems, why should anyone respect economists? If the corporate managerial elites cannot explain in a non-dogmatic, reasonable manner what they are doing and why, is there any good reason to believe that their decisions will serve the general good? If those who create the tools of public communication—such as fiction—write novels that do not communicate, why should the public consider these works relevant or important?

It’s not that everyone must understand everything; but those who are not experts must see that they are part of the process of an integrated civilization. They will understand and participate to the best of their ability. If excluded they will treat the elites with an equal contempt.

Excerpted from: Saul, John Ralston. The Doubter’s Companion. New York: The Free Press, 1994.