Secular Sangha: A Secular Buddhist Group discussion

16 views
General Discussions > What books have you finished?

Comments Showing 1-14 of 14 (14 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by MJD (new)

MJD | 210 comments Use this thread to discuss books that you have just finished.


message 2: by MJD (new)

MJD | 210 comments I recently completed An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume together with Meditations on First Philosophy by René Descartes. I think that it is a good pairing for those interesting in philosophical skepticism.


message 3: by MJD (new)

MJD | 210 comments Recently completed Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics by Immanuel Kant. I thought that it was an interesting response to the philosophy of Descartes and Hume.


message 4: by MJD (last edited Oct 07, 2018 06:00AM) (new)

MJD | 210 comments I also recently completed Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. I think that people in this group may be interested in it as a lot of the suffering that takes place in the book seems to be causes by unbridled passion and desire, which I think fits in well with the philosophy of Buddhism (particularly second of the "four noble truths").


message 5: by John (new)

John MJD wrote: "I also recently completed Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. I think that people in this group may be interested in it as a lot of the suffering that takes ..."

You have a good point. I'll have to revisit Frankenstein in the future with your comments in mind.


message 6: by MJD (new)

MJD | 210 comments Recently read THE IMMORTAL UPANISHADS by BHABANI SHANKAR ACHARYA.

I've been waiting for a free kindle version of at least a few Upanishads for a while now, and quickly got this book when it became available. Though it did not include all the Upanishads, it did seem to include passages that were referenced in several group books,such as Metaphor and Literalism in Buddhism: The Doctrinal History of Nirvana and Oriental Mythology: The Masks of God.

My main interest this is because Arthur Schopenhauer, one of my favorite philosophers, supposedly drew a lot of inspiration from it. Having read this book I can see why he liked it.


message 7: by MJD (new)

MJD | 210 comments Just got done with Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant. If you are a fan of David Hume I recommend reading this book. Though be warned, Kant is a lot harder to read than Hume.


message 8: by MJD (new)

MJD | 210 comments Just got done with On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason by Arthur Schopenhauer. In the introduction to the re-release of the book, in which a much older Schopenhauer re-wrote parts of this book that a much younger Schopenhauer wrote, he stated that the re-issue is like an old and bitter man reading the book of a young idealist guy out-loud and pausing at times to go on some bitter diatribe. Having read it I would like to say that I completely agree, and that it made things interesting.

I also like how he was rather over the top about his love of Kant and hatred of Hegel, showing passion unlike any philosopher that I've read besides Nietzsche.

Overall, 85% of the book reads like it was written by Kant while calm and 15% of it reads like it was written by Nietzsche while angry.


message 9: by MJD (new)

MJD | 210 comments Recently completed A History of Mediaeval Jewish Philosophy. I thought that it was very interesting how the philosophy of Plato, Aristotle, and others were used in reading the Bible among a number of Jewish thinkers.

I think that the idea of reading the Bible in this context has a lot to offer to those interested in reading Buddhist text. That is, I think that applying concepts outside of Buddhist thought can help complement and expand upon Buddhism in a way that being tunnel visioned about thing can"t


message 10: by MJD (last edited Nov 03, 2018 07:54AM) (new)

MJD | 210 comments Recently completed Maxims and Reflections by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

It contains interesting little sayings such as the following [copy and pasted from http://www.gutenberg.org/files/33670/...

192 "The whole art of living consists in giving up existence in order to exist."

______________________________________________________________

[Note: In the TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE the translator gives context for the above quote, fitting it into a moral system. The relevant paragraph is posted below.]

" A uniform activity with a moral aim—that, in Goethe's view, is the highest we can achieve in life. "Character in matters great and small consists," he says, "in a man steadily pursuing the things of which he feels himself capable." It is the gospel of work: our endeavour must be to realise our best self in deed and action; to strive until our personality attains, in Aristotle's word, its entelechy; its full development. By this alone can we resolve all the doubts and hesitations and conflicts within that undermine and destroy the soul. "Try to do your duty, and you will know at once what you are worth." And with all our doing, what should be the goal of our activity? In no wise our own self, our own weal. "A man is happy only when he delights in the good-will of others," and we must of a truth "give up existence in order to exist"; we must never suppose that happiness is identical with personal welfare. In the moral sphere we need, as Kant taught, a categorical imperative; but, says Goethe, that is not the end of the matter; it is only the beginning. We must widen our conception of duty and recognise a perfect morality only "where a man loves what he commands himself to do." "Voluntary dependence is the best state, and how should that be possible without love?" And just in the same sense Goethe refuses to regard all self-denial as virtuous, but only the self-denial that leads to some useful end. All other forms of it are immoral, since they stunt and cramp the free development of what is best in us—the desire, namely, to deal effectively with our present life, and make the most and fairest of it. "


message 11: by John (new)

John The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation by Thich Nhat Hanh

I think this book is perfect for somebody just beginning to explore Buddhism. I'm not sure if it would be classified as "secular" however.

Thich Nhat Hanh begins with the basics: The Middle Way, the Four Noble Truths, and the Noble Eightfold Path. From there he continues into other teachings, but shows how they all are interconnected and revolve around the 3 basic teachings.

Each chapter was short enough that you don't need to invest much time in re-reading one if you need more understanding. His writing is clear and to-the-point, easily comprehended. Many sutras and discourses are referenced, and I'll be looking for them soon (actually some are available on the Plum Village website). I wasn't able to understand the section on the Links of Inter-Dependent Co-Arising, but I don't think that detracts from the overall value of the book.

From a personal point of view, this is one of those life changing books for me. It fit in perfectly with my start in meditation, and it is definitely on par with The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis as a book worthy of yearly reading. I'll be reading more of Thich Nhat Hanh's books and continuing to learn more about Buddhism.


message 12: by MJD (new)

MJD | 210 comments John wrote: "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation by Thich Nhat Hanh

I think this book is perfect for somebody just beginning t..."


Glad to see that you enjoyed it. If you like his style of writing I would recommend the group book The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation.

[Note: While this group is primarily set up along secular grounds for those that either don't believe in any spiritual metaphysics or believe in a spiritual metaphysics that contradicts the ones that some Buddhist thinkers hold, it is not my intention for this group to be anti-nonsecular thinking. Also of note, I think that non-secular concepts in some Buddhist writings that appear in the books on this group's homepage and elsewhere can be useful if taken figuratively even if the reader ultimately rejects the literal truth of the concepts (for example, the idea of wanting to act better to be reincarnated into a better body could be read as figurative language of wanting to act better to become a better person).


message 13: by John (new)

John MJD wrote: "If you like his style of writing I would recommend the group book The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation...."

Yes, that was the book I was planning to get next.


message 14: by MJD (last edited Dec 10, 2018 01:04AM) (new)

MJD | 210 comments John wrote: "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation by Thich Nhat Hanh

I think this book is perfect for somebody just beginning t..."


The way that he was describing "Links of Inter-Dependent Co-Arising" it seemed like he was describing a feedback loop.

Wiki article on feedback loop: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feedback

________________________________________________________

Edit: The way that he was describing it reminded me a bit of Hume's, Kant's, and Schopenhauer's writings about causality and when I looked up the wiki article on the subject I saw that they were referenced.

[Note: the below text is copy and pasted from the following link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prat%C4...

"Comparison with western philosophy"
"Jay L. Garfield states that Mulamadhyamikakarika uses the
causal relation to understand the nature of reality, and of our
relation to it. This attempt is similar to the use of causation by
Hume, Kant, and Schopenhauer as they present their
arguments. Nagarjuna uses causation to present his arguments
on how one individualizes objects, orders one's experience of
the world, and understands agency in the world.[24]
The concept of pratītyasamutpāda has also been compared to
Western metaphysics, the study of reality. Schilbrack states that
the doctrine of interdependent origination seems to fit the
definition of a metaphysical teaching, by questioning whether
there is anything at all.[131] Hoffman disagrees, and asserts that
pratītyasamutpāda should not be considered a metaphysical
doctrine in the strictest sense, since it does not confirm nor
deny specific entities or realities.[quote 3]"


back to top