General Theravadics

In the course of my quest for the “proper path” to follow, two systems have emerged. They are very similar and very different at the very same time. Which two?

Theravada Buddhism and General Semantics.

Why exactly those two? Let me give you an explanation.

Theravada is the most ancient form of Buddhism that has survived until the present. It is (according to my opinion) a purely phenomenological teaching, verifiable through direct experience in the here-and-now, all-encompassing, well-balanced in its factors, grounded on ethics that nurture a cooperative dwelling for mankind and all living beings.

Unfortunately the source (Pali canon) which is more than 2,000 years old has been composed in an entirely different world: the cultural, social, scientific, linguistic and philosophical context can hardly be compared to that of our present time. This makes translations and their interpretations rather difficult.

GS is an educational discipline developed by Alfred Korzybski (author of “Science and Sanity“) in the first half of the 20th century. It is grounded on the observation that the internal (mental) and external (verbal) use of language, words, abstractions etc. gravely affects our sanity (see “semantic reactions”), and analyses these relations in detail. Knowledge about and training (exercises) in GS can improve the understanding of yourself, your mind, language, translations etc. as well as communication skills.

However, GS is largely independent of ethical considerations, and can thus be used for many purposes (e.g. politics) – not necessarily in a way that is “beneficial” for everyone.

Thus filling in the blanks, both systems support each other, making it easier to understand and to apply them in beneficial ways. Or so I believe. :-)

4 thoughts on “General Theravadics

  1. Quote: Unfortunately the source … has been composed in an entirely different world: the cultural, social, scientific, linguistic and philosophical context can hardly be compared to that of our present time.

    I largely wasted 20 years on Zen because I couldn’t get past the cultural differences. When I finally did start to understand bits of it (thanks to two books written by Americans), it seemed to me that Zen was designed for a person who has Eastern attitudes towards authority, progress, meaning, individuality, logic and so on. But I live in Canada, not Japan.

    My “political corrrectness” told me that people are people and it shouldn’t matter where they were raised. Well, yeah, okay, but I’m not really concerned about the people but the conditioning, which is coloured by culture.

    Zen was the most sensible thing I could find at the time, and it had a really cool name. But Zen just wasn’t doing it for me.

    Eventually the question presented itself: why am I looking for a particular “school”? Or to put it another way …

    Do I need an authority figure to tell me to ignore authority figures?

    These days I consider a wide range of opinions. They’re all partially wrong, and so am I. But at least I’m making progress after going nowhere for over two decades.

  2. maybe this is why wolfgang put the “proper path” into quotation marks. aside from that i absolutely agree on your conclusion. for me, there is no religion, philosophy or technique that will teach me life. that is the reason why for me too there is no right or wrong. personally, me and my wishes in life are leading to different paths which at some points cross and intertwine each other. the “masterpath” (or call it the “proper path”) to fulfillment (which – mostly monotheistic religions – promise) is in my opinion an illusion.

    because of that i never had an urge to search for it. “Do I need an authority figure to tell me to ignore authority figures?” hits the mark perfectly.

  3. Thanks for this post. Very thought provoking.
    I went to the GS website. And was surprised to find a lot of the things that I think about were put into words on that site.

    Thanks!

    April

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