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3955Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Book Recommendation

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  • Thomas Mether
    Dec 3, 2010
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      PS, In light of the sketch below in terms of the "stuff" of the universe is constituted by moral qualities, perhaps a few words on Brahman might be interesting. In its verbal root, it means "to grow, empower, make great" which in neuter form has the substantive noun stem -man added. It is cognate to our word brag and the Norse word for poetry. It has the sense of being a "true boast". It was originally used as a term applied to mantras (prayers, chants) in the Rgveda to indicate that a particular mantra was inspiring, enobling, a catchy turn of phrase, a great-oneliner, or powerfully awakening or sustaining seeing (dhih - vision) as a rhetorical evocation of seeing. Later, it was applied to the mutual relations of beings that made up existence to the extent they positively reinforced the strength and vitality of being (sat) over nonbeing (asat); in effect, being's boast or self-affirmation over nonbeing. In the process, brahman became personified as the
      priestly god Brhaspati (great-making prayer personified) who later became the creator god Brahma. In Vedanta, brahman becomes the absolute but what westerners often miss is the absolute is still a moral quality/force -- life-enhancing or being-strengthening or great-making prayer.
      Parallel with the development of the concept of brahman is the development of the concept of creation as food. We either become augmenting and nurturing "food" through the tapas (yogic heat and detached effort as inner sacrifice) and the world-creating sacrifice in a manner that makes being great -- brahman -- or we become mutually destructive and mutually feeding food. One of the roots for the idea of karmayoga originates in the food discussions in the Upanisads. I think it was T.S. Eliot that had a similar image of heaven and hell as a grand banquet with extremely long tableware. Heaven was each feeding others across the table; hell was each trying to feed themselves. That's close to the Vedic idea.

      --- On Fri, 12/3/10, Thomas Mether <t_mether@...> wrote:

      From: Thomas Mether <t_mether@...>
      Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Book Recommendation
      To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Friday, December 3, 2010, 10:52 AM


      Curt, Greg, John and List,
      In Vedanta and Buddhism, it is the collective karma (the moral consequences of past actions) of a group of sentient beings together that creates a type of world appropriate to their karma. In the Ayurveda that both religions share, the "mutual interpermeation and mutual nonobstruction" of spiritual bodies becomes "mutually impenetrable and mutually obstructive" physical bodies because their collective karma is one of mutual opposition and obstruction. Physical worlds, elements, and bodies, as mutually repelling and obstructing is a karmic consquence of a prior morally problematic karma of mutually repelling and obstructing souls. Due to karma, speaking of two of the trigunas of sat, rajas, and tamas, all things can tend to be truthful (satya) and be true being (sat) as their dispositional quality (sat) that makes them mutually nonobstructive or they can tend toward false-ignorance and inertia as their dispositional quality (tamas).
      There are three bodies and five sheaths.
      The real body is the causal body or karana-sarira. Note that the word karana means cause but is another form of the word karma. So, in Tantric Buddhism and in Vainavaist Vedanta, this is the subliminal karmic disposition body or alaya-sarira that produces the karmic consequence bodies/worlds. Depending on the karmic dispositions that make up the karana-sarira, its sheath is either the awakened janamayakosa (or bodhimayakosa -- enlightened sheath) or the ajantamayakosa (ignorance sheath). In terms of both sheaths, they are two forms of anandamayakosa (bliss sheath) which is either enlightened karuna (compassion) or grasping desire (tanha).
      The rest of the bodies are moral consequence bodies. They are "destiny-bodies" as karmic outcomes. Note, destiny can either be fall or enlightenment. Thus, taking on lower bodies is destiny of fall. Developing an indestructible enlightenment body transforms the causal body itself into the destiny-body or body of free total-self-making or autonomy.
      The next one down is the subtle body or suksma sarira. It is also the linga sarira or index body becomes the moral vices and virtues, depending on one's karma, are visibly manifested in it. The subtle body is the direct manifestation and reflection of moral/karmic character. The subtle body is the embodiment of the soul (another implication of the index aspect) with three sheaths. These are the vijnanamayakosa (consciousness or noetic sheath), the manomayakosa (mind or dianoetic sheath), and the pranamayakosa (the vital or animating sheath).
      If one has really bad karma, one has another karma-consequence body which is the stula-sarira or dense-gross body. It is created out of the tamasic (the darkness, inertia, ignorance, and mutually obstructing, mutually predatory tending aspects of the elements, and hence, it is crystallized out of the mutually destructive -- hence mortal - entropic-towards death, contradiction, degeneration factors do to the moral karma of mutual obstruction in the causal body) tending elements of mutual opposition, mutual repelling, and hence, dense and solid and impenetrable elements. As such, the stula-sarira has for its sheath the anamayakosa or 'food sheath" (actually the mutual cannibalizing sheath as Schopenhauer realized or the food-chain sheath or self and mutual predatory sheath).
      The idea is that existence is relations of mutual interdependence and co-production that is either the stuff of karuna (compassion) that renders existence as one of mutual inter-penetration and mutual interpermeation or it is the stuff of tanha (selfish grasping) that renders existence into the hellish form of mutual interdependence and co-nourishing as mutual-eating of each other.
      So, physical obstruction, density and impenetrability are crystallized manifestations of the same bad moral and karmic properties.
      Now, in the ascent or return, the causal body or karana sarira itself becomes the divya-sarira -- destiny-divine body) that can manifest at will a deifed subtle body that is now the vajradeha (diamond body). 
      Outside university, I formally studied Vedanta in the US and in Bihar India and Huayen Buddhism (in California -- there is a huge Chinese Buddhist Huayen and Tai'tai monastery north of San Francisco).

      --- On Fri, 12/3/10, gregshaw58 <gregshaw58@...> wrote:

      From: gregshaw58 <gregshaw58@...>
      Subject: [neoplatonism] Re: Book Recommendation
      To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Friday, December 3, 2010, 9:53 AM



      Thanks for the references, Buddhist, Stoic, and Plotinian. The notion of interpenetration of subtle bodies is one that intrigues me. I checked Gerson's "Plotinus" and found your reference on page 133, not 114. Perhaps I have a different edition.



      --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Curt Steinmetz <curt@...> wrote:
      > On 12/3/10 12:06 AM, Thomas Mether wrote:
      > > <snip>
      > >
      > > Basically, what I remember is that, for More, a body is by definition simply a volume. A volume does not have to be solid. Also, a body can be organic (have functional parts - organs) without being a solid body. So, More argued, there can be a spiritual organic body.<snip>
      > The ancient Stoic view was that anything that exists must be a "body",
      > while at the same time, they held that all bodies everywhere throughout
      > the Cosmos interact with all other bodies at all times. The Stoic
      > explanation of how this works is very similar to what is called
      > "interpenetration" in Mahayana Buddhism, a concept especially associated
      > with the Hua Yen (Avatamsaka) Sutra.
      > In his book on Plotinus, Lloyd Gerson refers to what he deems "the truly
      > bizarre Stoic doctrine of the total interpenetration of bodies. This is
      > the doctrine that there can and do exist certain mixtures of bodies [of
      > which the Cosmos itself is an example] such that each part of the
      > mixture is coextensive with each other. All parts are present in any
      > part, regardless of how small. The principle point of this doctrine
      > seems to have been to explain the presence of active soul-body or pneuma
      > everywhere in the type of body that is the passive recipient of the
      > active principle." [p. 114]
      > Gerson takes Plotinus' side, however, and presents the Stoic view only
      > in the context of explaining how Plotinus' rejection of it is convincing
      > (to Gerson). A view more sympathetic (if you will) to the Stoic position
      > is found in "Senecan Drama and Stoic Cosmology" by Thomas G. Rosenmeyer,
      > especially his chapters 4 & 5: "Body, Tension, and Sumpatheia", &
      > "Krasis, The Flame and the Moist".
      > Curt Steinmetz

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