Thursday, May 21, 2009

Human Advancement

Sawaki Roshi: After all their efforts, racking their brains as intensely as possible, people today have comeback to a deadlock. Human beings are idiots. We set ourselves up as wise men and subsequently do foolish things.
In spite of scientific advancement, human beings haven't come to greatness.
Since the dawn of history, human beings have constantly fought with each other. No matter how big or small a war is, the root cause is our minds, which have a tendency to make us growl at each other.
You should not forget that modern scientific culture has developed on the level of our lowest consciousness.
"Civilization" is always the talk of the world. But civilization and culture are nothing but the collective elaboration of illusory desires. No matter how many wrinkles of illusory desire you have on your brain, from the point of view of Buddhism, they will never bring about meaningful advancement for human beings. "Advancement" is the talk of the world, but what direction are we going in?

Uchiyama Roshi: People today are dazzled by advances in science and technology and take human advancement to be identical with the advances of science. Because the advances of science are significant primarily within the contexts of scientific disciplines, we must clearly distinguish them from human advancement. Arnold Toynbee said, "Our modern scientific culture increased the speed of Adam's orginal sin with explosive energy. That is all. And we never released ourselves from orginal sin." Real human advancement would release us from the mind of the lowest consciousness, which says, "I hope to make easy gain. In order to do that, I must struggle with others."


  1. I think the comment "In spite of scientific advancement, human beings haven't come to greatness" or its equivalent, was found in hieroglyphs on the wall of a very old Eqyptian tomb. It was a quotation from a clay tablet an Egyptian merchant and explorer found in the ruins of a then ancient citadel on the side of a mountain in Chile.

    [complete fabrication, but likely to be true]

  2. Al, Nice post. If I could ever get the thought of "easy gain" out of my head, I wouldn't recognize myself, which is exactly what I need because what I am recognizing as myself ain't him anyway..

  3. Just noticed your fav music and I must say you have a really good taste! :)

  4. Lauren,

    Thanks for that bit of history.

    It's turtles all the way down!


    Thanks! I think it is important to state interest, that way you know who you're dealing with.