Ideas of Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama), by Theme

[Indian, c.580 - 520 BCE, Born at Kapilavastu, in Nepal. A pupil was Ananda. The founder of Buddhism. aka Shakyamuni.]

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16. Persons / E. Rejecting the Self / 4. Denial of the Self
Individuals don't exist, but are conventional names for sets of elements
     Full Idea: There exists no individual, it is only a conventional name given to a set of elements.
     From: Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) (reports [c.540 BCE]), quoted by Derek Parfit - The Unimportance of Identity p.295
     A reaction: I take this to arise from an excessively spiritual concept of a human being, which faces Descartes' problem of how to individuate non-physical minds, when they have no clear boundaries. Combine dualism with a bundle theory, and you have Buddhism.
29. Religion / C. Spiritual Disciplines / 3. Buddhism
The Buddha believed the gods would eventually disappear, and Nirvana was much higher
     Full Idea: The Buddha believed implicitly in the gods because they were part of his cultural baggage, but they were involved in the cycle of rebirth, and would eventually disappear; the ultimate reality of Nirvana was higher than the gods.
     From: report of Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) (reports [c.540 BCE]) by Karen Armstrong - A History of God Ch.1
     A reaction: We might connect this with Plato's Euthyphro question (Ideas 336 and 337), and the relationship between piety and morality on the one hand, and the gods on the other.
Life is suffering, from which only compassion, gentleness, truth and sobriety can save us
     Full Idea: Buddha taught that the only release from 'dukkha' (the meaningless flux of suffering which is human life) is a life of compassion for all living beings, speaking and behaving gently, kindly and accurately, and refraining from all intoxicants.
     From: Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) (reports [c.540 BCE], Ch.1), quoted by Karen Armstrong - A History of God Ch.1
     A reaction: Christians are inclined to give the impression that Jesus invented the idea of being nice, but it ain't so. The obvious thought is that the Buddha seems to be focusing on the individual, but this is actually a formula for a better community.