Śāntideva on anger

Authors: Amod Lele (Boston University), and Anna Lännström (Stonehill College)

 

Śāntideva (Shantideva) is an eighth century Indian Buddhist philosopher from the Mahāyāna tradition. His most famous work is the short and largely accessible Bodhicaryāvatāra (Undertaking the way to awakening or Guide to the Bodhisattva way of life). This work was an important influence on the Tibetan Buddhist tradition generally and on the current Dalai Lama in particular.

Śāntideva’s discussion of anger is in chapter 6, where, arguing against anger, he praises the virtue of patient endurance (kṣānti). He treats anger as equivalent to hatred and singles it out as the most troublesome of the three root poisons (hatred, delusion, and craving) because, more than the others, it prevents us from developing compassion.

Śāntideva makes a psychological argument against anger, pointing out that it disturbs our relationships and our peace of mind. It makes us suffer, preventing us from being happy.

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The Analects by Confucius (Kongzi)

Author: Nicholas Hudson (University of Hawaii) 

A foundational text of Confucianism, The Analects is a collection of dialogues, sayings, and observations involving Confucius (Kongzi) and his disciples. It is generally believed that Confucius’ disciples started to compose it shortly after his death in 479 B.C.E. and over the next two hundred or so years the text was added to and revised, perhaps becoming the received text around 150 B.C.E. Written during the Warring States Period, a time of great upheaval, much of the book can be seen as a response to violent social and political disorder. It opposes the use of force, advocating instead a government based on ritual and moral authority. Although Confucius describes himself as transmitter and not an innovator (Analects VII.1) and emphasizes the dao (way) of former kings, The Analects does not promote a simple return to the past. Rather, much of the text is concerned with reinterpretation; for example, the word jun, formerly referring to a martial nobleman, comes to mean a cultured noble man. Continue reading “The Analects by Confucius (Kongzi)”

Xunzi on Morality and Human Nature

Author: Sonia Sikka (University of Ottawa)

Xunzi is a Confucian philosopher who lived from 310-220 B.C.E., towards the end of the “Warring States” period in Chinese history. Against Mencius, he claims that human nature is intrinsically evil or bad, and requires reshaping to be made morally good or virtuous. The tool he recommends for that reshaping is “ritual practice,” consisting of study and learning, guided by teachers and models of exemplary individuals. Xunzi offers several arguments against Mencius’ apparently opposed thesis that human nature is intrinsically good. Continue reading “Xunzi on Morality and Human Nature”

Nagarjuna’s Anti-Substantialism

Authors:  Sonia Sikka (University of Ottawa), Melanie Coughlin (Carleton University)

Nagarjuna’s central work, the Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way (Mūlamadhyamakakārikā), is a classic of Indian Buddhist philosophy that has generated a wealth of commentarial literature. Likely composed in the 2nd or 3rd century CE, it offers a critique of the idea of svabhava, a Sanskrit term literally meaning “own-nature” and suggesting independent or substantial existence. Continue reading “Nagarjuna’s Anti-Substantialism”