Let us begin, once again, by retracing the path we have taken so far. To do so, let me paraphrase a quotation from the American political philosopher Michael Walzer which, in my view, sums up the spirit of what we are doing.
The context is a reflection on the significance of the exodus of the Jewish people. Walzer summarises his narrative structure as follows.
(1) The starting point is “Egypt”, which symbolises the enslavement of the Jewish people. (2) On the horizon, we have freedom, in the figure of the “promised land”: Israel. (3) Between the state of slavery and Israel (the promised land), what we have is a road. There is no alternative. If we want to get to Israel, we have to cross the desert, and for that we have to walk, we have to “join (others) and walk”.
[This entry is the summary of the second meeting of the seminar «Appearance and reality. On Living, Dreaming and Dying», held last Thursday, 17 February 2022].
1. The Current Moral Order and Critical Ethics
In the second session we began with a brief summary of what had been covered in the previous session. In particular, we returned to the notion that there are two perspectives on ethics proposed by the Philosophy of Liberation, and insisted on the idea that this distinction can be fruitfully applied to a better understanding of Buddhist ethics.
In short, the critical proposal of the Philosophy of Liberation can help us to «free ourselves» from conservative perspectives, which tend to create or defend systemic injustices, producing victims voluntarily or involuntarily due to the attachment to the dogmatic formulations of tradition, and to established institutional forms.
Let us remember that Buddhism is, before anything else, an ethic. That is, a system that teaches us how to act, that helps us to distinguish what we should or would do well to cultivate, and what, on the contrary, we should avoid, because it is harmful.
[This entry is the summary of the first meeting of the seminar “Appearance and reality. On living, dreaming and dying”, held last Thursday, 10 February 2022].
We begin by briefly explaining the programme “Dimensions of Experience”, of which this module is a part. “Dimensions” aims to introduce students to Buddhist meditative practice. However, unlike other courses, the perspective adopted is a critical one. That is, meditation techniques are not simply offered for implementation in our daily lives, but are reflected upon. From our perspective, meditation can be counterproductive and even harmful. Moreover, we believe that a certain interpretation of Buddhist philosophy, in collusion with postmodernism, has been an unwitting ally of neoliberalism and all the evil that this system of social and ecological relations has caused and is causing in the world.