Essay 1: Compare And Contrast How You, Lao Tzu and Homer Would Respond To The Old Testament
Lao Tzu is the spiritual leader behind the philosophy of Taoism. He is best known for his writings which currently form the foundations of Taoism. Taoism basically seeks to help people achieve harmony and peace with nature through distancing themselves from the world. It encourages people to avoid issues happening around the world as the only way in which they will attain inner peace with themselves. Homer was also a philosopher and one of the first influential writers in Greek. He was known for his many poems which were used as a standard to evaluate ones level of education in ancient Greek. He had an expanded influence that went beyond the world of literature into morality, ethics, myth, and religion.
Christianity and Taoism are both well known for their beliefs because they are widely spread and so many people subscribe to the beliefs. Contrasting between the response taken by Lao, Homer, and I in regards to the Old Testament, can focus on salient areas and features about the Old Testament. This includes the idea of creation, the issue of God making rules and expects human beings not to break them, and the main principles presented in the Old Testament.
In the Old Testament, God is shown to be omnipotent and benevolent. He is the Supreme Being that created the entire universe and all living things. In response to this belief, Lao Tzu would not agree with it because according to his philosophy and thinking, “there is nothing as Supreme Being”. There is no existence of a god and all living things have an eternal nature because of the belief that they do not have a creator. For Lao, “the idea of supernatural force is in the form of energy and not a being”. The energy is considered to be the absolute ideal and the main law at the same time.
The teaching in the Old Testament can be analyzed to call for action and responsibility in the world around people. For instance, when God created mankind, He gave him the power to rule over the all of His creation. This has implication of taking control of what is happening around the world. However, Lao can respond differently to this belief since his thinking encourages people to have inner peace by disconnecting themselves from the world. This is propagated through the idea of personal space. Lao would instead encourage people to have their individual space if they truly want to experience inner peace with themselves and with nature.
Based on the writings of Homer, he would respond differently to the Old Testament. The myths presented in his poems are typically a contrast of some of the issues presented in the Old Testament. Similarly, the ideas and teaching that can be learnt from his stories can be argued to be similar to some of the teachings in the Old Testament. The main reason why there is a contrast between Homer’s writings and the Old Testament is because he is a product of his own times. Homer was understood by many as a writer who contributed to the hero cult. Many societies decided to adopt his works as a part of their religious and occult beliefs.
In the Old Testament, there is a lot of writing that is based on war and heroic figures. For instance, the story of David signifies an epic story of one fearless and heroic character. Similarly, homer based his poems and literature work on the stories of heroic figures and people such as Odyssey and Iliad. Similarly, the Old Testament presents a lot of teachings that come directly from God. In the same fashion, Homer also presented a lot of teaching and instructions that come from a supernatural force. The teachings were not supposed to be disobeyed by mortal beings and lower ranked gods. Similarly, in the Old Testament, God gave instructions and expected them to be fully obeyed by the people. He used prophets, priests and judges to give commands to the people.
Personally, I think that the Old Testament is not supposed to be ignored in anyway. The teachings presented therein cannot be invalidated as they still continue to make sense in the world today. The stories given have profound teachings which can help people to cope with many situations in life. One cannot argue that the Old Testament is not outdated in anyway just because Jesus came to be the way for mankind.
Essay 2: Compare And Contrast How You, The Buddha And Socrates Would Respond To The Mencius Text
According to the Mencius text, “people are generally expected to treat others the way they wish others would treat them”. “It is human nature to be born with feelings, benevolence, sense, and self conduct”. This is described as the golden rule of religion and the best way in which human beings can achieve benevolence. This rule has form a significant part of many religions as it is quoted in most of the major religious groups. It is generally the principle of reciprocity that serves as conduct for life. If one does not desire something for themselves, then it is only prudent not to impose that thing to others.
This Mencius text complies with many religions therefore, the response in which someone like Buddha would take in relation to the text is pretty much predictable. According to Buddhists, “one cannot inflict upon another, a state in which they consider less pleasing”. Buddha further goes to say that when it comes to hurting others, one should not use means that they themselves would consider hurtful. This implies that there are instances when one may tolerate being hurt in one way or another. However despite being able to tolerate a hurtful situation, a person should not use other intolerable means upon others. They should only use the means which they find tolerable. This principle of the golden was made one of the cornerstones of Buddha during the 5th century BC. It has been used in the Buddhist sacred scriptures in many forms. Some of the forms have already been discussed in the paper. One peculiar form is when it comes to comparing oneself to others. For instance, it is quoted in the Tripitaka that just as people are, so one is and just as one is, people are. Therefore one should not kill another or make someone else to kill others. This quote has implication of similarity between people in the world. Everyone should see themselves the same as others and not develop negative intentions to harm others.
Additionally, the sacred scriptures of Buddha quote that if someone is seeking happiness, he should not then oppress others in any way since they too are in pursuit of happiness. If one engages in violent oppression of others in the process of seeking happiness, then the nature of happiness will not be sustained thereafter.
Socrates, as one of the renowned philosophical thinkers of all time, would respond in a similar way to the Mencius text as Buddhists. Socrates is known to have the Golden rule as his first ever principle. According to Socrates, “people are not expected to render evil for evil or retaliate to anyone, irrespective of the nature of treatment received from the other person”. In as much as Socrates’ view of the golden rule does not entirely seem similar to the view of other religions, much of the understanding is almost similar. The only difference with Socrates, is that he does not call for reciprocity. Unlike in other religions including Buddha, Socrates’ view is aimed at breaking the cycle of revenge. This means that one may be hurt by another but may not render evil for evil. However, contrary to Socrates view, one can easily interpret that in Buddha, the Mencius text or the golden rule is relative and depends on an individual. There are people who are comfortable being hurt or would tolerate an evil treatment from others. Therefore, according to the Buddhist perspective of this rule, such people can easily harm others simply because this is what they expect others to do unto them. Therefore the only different, in the Socrates’ perspective is that it removes any form of ambiguity that can lead to several interpretations.
Personally, I would lean more towards Socrates’ perspective in response to the golden rule or the Mencius text. The rule has formed a basis for most ethical programs used in the since history. However, in the world today, many organizations that rely on this principles as a core ethical foundation of their operation, have failed right before the rule. This has proven that rule can be misused because of its nature to be subjective. In as much as the text is meant for good and has so far been used to build positive relationships between different people and organizations, it also may have several implications. Just as in the case of Buddha, where it quotes that when it comes to hurting others, one should not use means that they themselves would consider hurtful to them, the statement can mean that people who tolerate some form of harm can impose the same unto others. However, evil remains evil and the bottom line is to not to allow evil for evil, but to use good against evil or to overcome evil.
Essay 3: Compare And Contrast How You, Augustine And Confucius Would Respond To The Mahabharata
Mahabharata is a Sanskrit epic in ancient India alongside Ramayana. The two form the epics of ancient India. Despite its literature nature, the story behind it has some philosophical, spiritual, and religious background. For instance, the story presents a discussion of the goals of life. It claims that there are four main goals of life. Mahabharata is all about a story that illustrates how one age and generation ended to pave way for another generation. Some people have described Mahabharata to be the biblical version of Hindu religion. This is because, in ancient time, the word bible and epic were used to refer to almost the same thing. The term epic referred to a single heroic figure whose actions lead to some huge societal influence. The similarity of both terms occurs when they are used to illustrate a division between the profane and the sacred.
In the epic Mahabharata, there is all of the classical Hindu traditions. It contains several tales of heroic and epic personalities within the religion. It contains the favorite myths and the fairy tales, the jokes, the creation stories, and the code of law (natural, ethical, and moral). However, the thing that makes is epic is the Great War that was fought between the five children of King Pandu and the sons of King Ditrashta. The war is significant because it involved virtually every part of India, tribe and communities.
In response to Mahabharata, Confucius would agree to the content of Mahabharata. Confucius is among the greatest thinkers of all time within the eastern region. His work has been appreciated and used in ancient Chinese as a foundation for school curriculum. The similarity between his writings and that found in Mahabharata is that both of them are a collection several epic stories, myths, code of law, jokes, and fairy tales. He did not edited most of his work as this was done years after his death. However, during his time, he commanded a huge following of disciples who later were responsible for compiling editing his works.
Just as Mahabharata is used until now to shape the culture of the Hindu and Indian people, the works of Confucius have also been used to play a central in shaping the culture of the Chinese people. He involved the entire greater region of China when seeking acceptance of his work among the ancient Chinese. In a similar fashion, the Mahabharata involved virtually everyone within the region of India. After the death of Confucius, the teachings and writings were modified and used to develop the sacred writings of the religion which eventually became the official religion in china for centuries. Still up to now, the teachings remain a significant part of Asian culture. There are a lot of similarities with the principles and teaching presented in other Asian religion such as the Hindu. “The primary focus of Confucius teachings included: obedience to superior without question, honoring of ancestors, conforming to standards of tradition, value of tradition, work ethics, loyalty, family, and education”.
According to the works of Confucius, there are three main principles upon which are used to emphasize his teachings. The three principles are similar in nature to those found in Mahabharata. The first principle can be translated into English to include imply the idea standard of conduct. It teaches on courtesy, relevance, and propriety. The second principle is translated to mean fundamental virtue of benevolence and goodness. It teaches on expressing concern for other people within the society while the third principle is typically the golden rule that calls for people to do unto others what they would wish others to do unto them. Another similarity with Mahabharata is that Confucius also describes and develops an explanation of the origin and nature of mankind.
When it comes to St. Augustine, his thoughts and perceptions of the Mahabharata may be slightly different from that of Confucius. Augustine was initially a pagan and later converted into Christianity. This fact may hinder him from agreeing with all of the teachings presented in Mahabharata. However, as a bishop and a teacher of rhetoric, he may find himself concurring with some of the teaching presented therein. Just as in Mahabharata, the writing and teachings of St. Augustine have remained influential until the today. His interpretation of Christianity has had a profound impact on the religion and the society as in general. As Mahabharata teaches people using epic stories and fairy tales, St. Augustine focuses on the analyzing the ideologies in Christianity to develop an understanding of the religion.
Personally, my perception towards Mahabharata would be focused on the literal aspect of it. This implies that the approach I would use to respond to its content is based on the literature analysis. The stories given are amazing, especially the ones of the heroic figures and individuals. These stories can form a strong basis of moral lessons in life and inspirations to act with courage when encountered with similar situations.
Cunningham, L., & Reich, J. (2012). Culture and Values. Boston: Wadsworth.
Gochberg, D., Dulai, S., Graham, E., & Harrow, K. (2002). World Literature and Thought, Vol. 1, The Ancient Worlds. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth, Thomson Learning.