All meetings are from 1 to 3 pm in the Library at Beacon and everyone is welcome.
For November, 2017
This month we will meet on Tuesdays, November 14th and 28th from 1-3 pm, in the library.
As we continue our Great Courses lecture series, Sacred Texts of the World, we’ll begin by looking at Jainism, which, like Buddhism, developed in northern India near or around the 5th century B.C.E. Like Buddha, its founder or leader Mahavira, was also raised as a prince in the Kshatriya or warrior castle. However, unlike Buddhism or Hinduism, Mahavira taught that everything has a soul – people, animals, plants, rocks, drops of water, gusts of wind, and flames of fire. Enlightenment and escaping karma is achieved through very strict ascetic practices. Jains believe it’s far better to suffer oneself than to cause suffering to other living beings. Next, we’ll begin to study Confucianism, a system of thought that originated in ancient China with Confucius (551-479 B.C.E.). Confucianism offers a strong moral code, a vision for living in harmony with the universe, and rituals for dealing with unseen beings, but many of its tenets seem rather practical and this-worldly, with an emphasis on family and politics. Therefore, it has been viewed as both a philosophy/ethical system and a religion. Come see what you think.
At our second meeting, we’ll begin by looking at the last of Five Confucian Classics, the Changes or Yijing (I-Ching), which is an ancient manual of divination. Although Confucianism fell into decline at the end of the Han Dynasty, it made a comeback in the Tang and Song dynasties (10th-15th centuries) as Neo-Confucianism, with a scholar named Zhu Xi (1130-1200) as its most influential figure. He urged a focus on the Four Books: the Analects, the Mencius, the Great Learning, and the Constant Mean. These were also widely studied in Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Neo-Confucianism focused more on the ultimate nature of reality and humanity, and pursuing a program of self-cultivation and inner spirituality. And then we’ll turn to Daoism, said to have been founded by Laozi or Master Lao, an older contemporary of Confucius. Laozi is also said to have written the Daodejing (“The Classic of the Way and Its Power”). The Dao or the Way, is a transcendent order underlying all phenomena. It is eternal, inexhaustible, and the origin of all things. The Daodejing is a book of wisdom advising us to bring our thoughts and deeds into harmony with the Dao through the practice of wu wei (“non-action” or “effortless action”).
To learn much more about all these religions/philosophies, please join us. For more information, contact Glory Bowen, 973-335-5590.