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Welcome to the Traditional Studies Discussion Forum

Our community is devoted to the discussion of Tradition, a term that has been most adequately defined by Seyyed Hossein Nasr as "truths or principles of a divine origin revealed or unveiled to mankind and, in fact, a whole cosmic sector through various figures envisaged as messengers, prophets, avataras, the Logos or other transmitting agencies, along with all the ramifications and applications of these principles in different realms including law and social structure, art, symbolism, the sciences, and embracing of course Supreme Knowledge along with the means for its attainment."

Topics for discussion include the orthodox doctrines, spiritual methods, and artistic forms of the worlds great religions, especially as they are represented in the Traditional School comprised of such authorities as Rene Guenon, Frithjof Schuon, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Marco Pallis, Titus Burckhardt, Martin Lings, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, William Chittick, Huston Smith, James Cutsinger and many others. Although these writers will serve as our primary focus, all traditional orthodox religions and philosophies are appropriate subjects for discussion. It is our hope that the encounter with the traditional perspective on this forum will allow participants to penetrate further into the depths of their respective traditions and enter into mutually supportive and enriching dialogue with the adherents of other religions.

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 Post subject: Re: Esoteric Amorality
PostPosted: May 2nd, 2016, 4:59 pm 
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Joined: September 2nd, 2008, 1:10 pm
Posts: 44
I’m not sure I would characterize my position as extreme, which doesn’t tell us much about the actual people and actions being discussed. The golden rule and moral consistency may appear extreme in most western societies, but they are fundamental in my readings of the religions. To be fair, the traditionalists or perennialists are not exceptions in the US and UK. To make it as it were, one almost always has to go along with the status quo, shake the right hands, and not rock the boat. People like Malcolm X, Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman, and George Galloway are rare and only appear extreme because we live in extremist societies that privilege profit over lives. But I ask, how would the prophets respond to those in power? Moses confronted Pharaoh for enslaving his people, Mary and Jesus avoided Caesar and challenged the religious leaders of their day, and Muhammad refused to compromise with the Meccan aristocracy and reestablished the ways of Abraham. Zaynab was brought before Yazid and spoke truth to power.

Prince Charles may be relatively innocuous, but if I were in his position I would not have let my son go off to kill brown people in Afghanistan or wear Nazi regalia. I would have had much stronger words for Blair. I would not meet with the Saudis or Israelis. Of course, US leaders are more complicit in war crimes. Kissinger and almost every US president are responsible for the deaths of thousands or millions of innocent people, depending on the case. The Shah was also our strong man in Iran for years and used SAVAK to terrorize his own population. I simply do not see how one can work for any of these men without offering them words of rebuke or resigning.

I’m not sure how the apparent moral failings of some poor people are relevant. Even if all people are more or less the same morally regardless of class, I believe the rich and powerful have much greater responsibility. There are even indications in some Islamic sources that justice is the primary religious responsibility for political leaders and not the performance of religious rites. The Quran itself warns all people:

"Have you seen the one who denies religion?
The one who drives away the orphan
And does not encourage the feeding of the poor.
So woe to those who pray
But are heedless of their prayer.
Those who make a show of their piety
And refuse small acts of kindness." (107:1-7)

Thus, prayer is not prayer if we ignore the orphan, the poor, and the hungry. There is a profound metaphysics behind this. Ultimately, God is everywhere and the Beloved appears to us as each person. To pray constantly to an unseen God, yet ignore God as He manifests as human beings is to miss the point. Realization is not only to know God as the inward in our own heart, but also as the outward in the hearts of all beings. If we believe we are the chosen people because of religion or esoterism, and as a consequence ignore the rights of others, I believe we have much to learn.

You strike me as a thoughtful and compassionate person. What I write here is not necessarily directed at you, but trends in the traditionalist school I believe are worth discussing.


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 Post subject: Re: Esoteric Amorality
PostPosted: May 2nd, 2016, 6:49 pm 
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Joined: September 2nd, 2008, 1:10 pm
Posts: 44
I'll concede that Nasr, Lings, and others are not responsible for the decisions of the political leaders and nations they have worked for, which they probably could not have impacted even if they tried. However, I do believe that both Nasr and Lings were fully aware of Schuon's actions, which should have been a sign to leave their master and not perpetuate his teachings and legacy.

Sincerely,
Zachary


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 Post subject: Re: Esoteric Amorality
PostPosted: September 20th, 2016, 6:39 am 
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Joined: July 1st, 2010, 5:47 pm
Posts: 439
Zachary,

Well, from my perspective the allegations against Schuon are allegations, so I leave it to those involved, if there was anything to be involved in, and God.

Controversial might be a better term than extreme. I mean by controversial two separate threads of what seem to me questionable assumptions in your points about governments. One, is that the golden rule, without qualification, can be the basis of political and social morality and used to harshly criticise contemporary governments. This doesn't seem the case to me. It may be ideally the case, but then ideally there would be little or no government at all, no crime, no threat of war, and so on. Government as we know it, and society as we know it, seems to require different roles and functions; and the duties and responsibilities involved don't seem exactly to fit into the framework of the golden rule. It is not that I'm arguing for any Machiavellian right for the state to act in terms of necessity. I too would hold the state to high moral standards. But I don't think it is quite so simple a case as arranging a state, or society, on the lines of doing to others what we would like done to ourselves. What of children, for example? Must we treat them entirely as we would be treated? I suppose you could argue we should treat them as we would have liked to have been treated as children ourselves. But that just seems a roundabout way of introducing precisely the qualifications and provisos I'm talking about. Personally, I wouldn't much like to be coerced. But if I'm committing a crime then it may be necessary that I am coerced. I think you'd struggle to get from the great sages and spiritual traditions of mankind that political and social morality can be reduced to the golden rule.

I think some of the complexities of political morality are shown in HRH's position. He is the heir to the ancient British throne. He has next to no real power. I don't see what his posturing about certain regimes would get him or Britain or the people living under those regimes. It would probably just make it more likely that the monarchy was replaced by a republican regime, which I don't think would be a welcome occurence. He exerts what influence he can, but I'm certainly not prepared to say it better he give up the throne to make a symbolic point that probably won't make any practical difference. Maybe he should, maybe he shouldn't. But to me it seems far more complex than simply asserting the golden rue.

The other controversial thread I was referring to is the less than charitable view of the motives of certain individuals, governments, and nations, especially when compared with the overly charitable view of someone like George Galloway. One can criticise the British involvement in Afghanistan, for example. But it seems over the top to see it as a matter of killing brown people. We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that even modern British soldiers and government ministers can have a moral sense and a sense of justice, as well as less lofty motives. The modern world is a very complicated. Some politicians and governments do bad things. But often they are just as much trying to muddle through as anyone else, now or in the past(the real difference is spirituality, where moderns are very much lacking, taken as a whole). This is what I was really getting at when I brought up the morality of the poor. In the end, I don't think that it is fair, despite real failings, to consider the British or American governments as so terrible that the slightest association is a moral blot.

I can see you hold your position sincerely. I just don't see that someone who didn't accept your somewhat controversial assumptions would come to the same conclusions about Lings, Nasr, and others.


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