General Semantics - Continued ..."
A New Approach to Buddhist Religion and its Philosophy.
We considered how this ancient religion (or “a-theism”) is
still alive and growing, in light of Bruce Kodish’s
that we studied in April, the (hypothetical) visits by the
Buddha himself, and
Alfred Korzybski’s G.S. formulations.
at "Cifftop View" Bonnet Bay in Sydney was hosted as usual by Pauline and
Gavan - Thank you both!
It was a while since our last seminar, so there were some triumphs
and tragedies to relate and yarns to swap.
In the spirit of "applying general semantics principles" to our lives, as opposed to dwelling in theory, we considered members' accounts of observations and applications relating to the principles and formulations of our discipline.
We've touched on Buddhism before, so this time we aimed to
extend and deepen our consideration of the specifics of how GS
and Buddhism overlap and differ.
A Few Reflections on General Semantics
consideration of a "relatively new" participant to our group
this month, we revised some basic GS concepts/formulations, and
some of the Buddhist material that we previously covered.
1. Review of General Semantics
* History of GS and Alfred Korzybski's life and times,
* "Manhood of Humanity"and "Science and Sanity",
discipline of General Semantics and later writings,
The Institute, Australian General Semantics Society.
Laurie Cox's Keynote Address at the AGS Conference 2010.
2. Some of our encounters
with the Buddha and his
Previous AGS seminars on Buddhism,
remarkable(hyperthetical visit of Korzybski and Buddha last
4. Some Principles in
* Mindah-Lee Kumar's video: "The Four Noble Truths" of Buddhism.
* MindahBan Cerddorion's video "Eightfold Path - Right Speech"
This was deemed a particularly strong link to GS, as we
emphasise the great power of
speech in influencing thought and
action. We considered a number of mis-usages of speech,
* False speech ("fake news", our
"post-truth" age etc),
* Harsh speech (ellect
on relatonships etc),
* Gossip, spiteful,
mean talk (harmful even if true).
We dwelt at some length
on the "Four Noble Truths" and the "Eightfold Path", and their
parallels in GS, keeping in mind the cultural and historical
context of the origins of these two disciplines.
* The Royal Society's motto "Nullius en verba" ("On
the word of no-one"), ie "Scientific method requires direct
observation, not reliance on doctrine, conventional wisdom or
* Buddha: "Believe nothing, no matter
where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it,
unless it agress with your own reason and your own common
We considered this (alleged) quotation at some
length, first because it is probably not accurate (eg the
reference to "reading"), and also because belief of our written
record of this statement would imply that we accept it as true
6. Khai Thien's book
"Budhist General Semantics"
* We've been
reading this book for a while, but, as usual, found that it
quite a bit of re-reading!
Bruce Kodish's review
was of interest, firstly because Bruce put quite some effort
into critiquing Khai Thien's work, and secondly because we are
always interested in Bruce's thoughts and opinions.
7.Samuel Bois's article "GS and Zen"
This long article contained far more content and references
than we could expect to cover in the day, but we distributed a
copy and discussed some on the main contentions.
8.Jessica Bridges's Article "Buddhism
Jessica's content and style were considered more
accessible to us that that of Samuel's, so we were able to work
through some of the details. It illustrated some of the
many overlapping features of GS and Buddhism, despite the great
cultural and historical differences in their evolution.
We reflected on the year past and planned for the year ahead, in our
Sat 8 April
"Introduction to GS for beginners"
gained will then be applied to the problem of living a
healthy lifestyle, which includes getting down to a
Led by David Hewson
Disclaimer: This "summary" is a collection of notes derived from our discussion by a number of means. It is by no means a scholarly dissertation on the subject as presented. It does not purport to be the "policy of AGS". Comment and criticism (constructive or otherwise) is welcome. If anyone has been misquoted, copyrights infringed or confidences betrayed, please
(partly reproduced from previous AGS
seminar summaries) ...
Foundations of Buddhism -
Four Noble Truths
All life knows suffering.
Nobody gets (all of) what they want in life.
The cause of suffering is ignorance and clinging.
Wanting it is the problem.
There is a way to end suffering.
By learning not to want it.
This is the way to end suffering:
The Eightfold Path.
This list is obviously a gross simplification, but it is a
start. We discussed
these issues at some length, in light of issues like the need to
define “happiness” and “suffering”, and minimising expectations.
Mindah-Lee Kumar explains the Four Noble truths in this video:
The Four Noble Truths
- Duration: 19 minutes.
A2. The Five Precepts
The Five Precepts are the basis of Buddhist morality.
* The first precept is to
avoid killing or harming living beings.
* The second is to avoid
* The third is to avoid sexual
* The fourth is to avoid lying
* The fifth is to avoid
alcohol and other intoxicating drugs.
A3. The Eight-Fold Pa
that these were pretty acceptable, and quite in accord with the
GS principles of time-binding etc.
Learning the nature of reality and the
truth about life.
* Right Aspiration
Committing to live in such a way that our
suffering can end.
* Right Effort
Just do it - No Excuses!
* Right Speech
Speaking the truth in a helpful and
* Right Conduct
Living a life consistent with our values.
* Right Livelihood
Earning a living in a way that doesn’t
*. Right Mindfulness
Recognising the value of the moment;
living where we are.
* Right Concentration
Expanding our consciousness through meditation.
And yes, there’s a nice video for this as well:
The Noble Eightfold Path
- Duration: 28 minutes.
A4. The Royal Society and Buddha on "Not just
This is surely an expression of our GS formulation that “The map
(econventional wisdom) is not the territory.”
the Buddha is often quoted thus:
no matter where you read it,
no matter if I have said it,
unless it agrees with your own
and your own common sense.”
The Buddha’s reply is very full, but it’s clear he says that
“reason” (logical conjecture, inference, analogies, agreement
through pondering views) and “common sense” (probability) are
not sufficient bases for determining what
A5: More reviews:
Another review of Thien’s book
can be found here:
here, with some thoughtful comments.
Buddhism and General Semantics.”
This essay is quite an accessible
piece of work – a good introduction to the subject.
“General Semantics and Zen”By
J. Samuel Bois.
long article by our familiar