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Discussion Assignment 2, Question 1    Options Menu: Forum      

Before responding to this question, make sure you have carefully read the DISCUSSION INSTRUCTIONS. [Touch on Menu Tab to left] You must post your answers and your response to another student's post by midnight 11/15/19.

The Bhagavad Gita (or 'Divine Song') is a short portion of a much longer Hindu Epic, entitled the Mahabharata.  In the Gita, we are given a dialogue between Arjuna (the Warrior) and Krishna (his charioteer).  Arjuna has been called upon to defend his rule against a warring clan (his blood relatives) who seek to usurp him; but not wanting to harm those who are seemingly close to him, Arjuna lays down his weapons and begins to despair.  Krishna (who we find out is actually the deity speaking through the person of the charioteer) exhorts Arjuna to see the bigger picture: sometimes in our life we must carry out tasks that at the present moment make no sense to us; yet if we shrink from such tasks, we will lose an opportunity to contribute to an overall good.

According to Krishna, no matter the personal cost or suffering, one must fulfill one's obligation [dharma] and do this as an act of worship to one's Lord.  In the Bhagavad Gita (2:38), Krishna states: "Prepare for war with peace in thy soul.  Be in peace in pleasure and pain, in gain and in loss, in victory or in the loss of battle.  In this peace there is no sin."

Do you agree or disagree with the above statement?  Why? (Please list your specific reasons.)

Do you believe that a warrior can be at peace with himself/herself? Or is the concept of 'the Peaceful Warrior' a contradiction in terms? Please explain.

What do you think the passage implies about the possibility of a 'holy war'?

Could the passage be interpreted in a symbolic way [as opposed to its usual literal sense]?

Please explain your answers.


Discussion Assignment 2, Question 2    Options Menu: Forum      

This assignment is due midnight 11/15/19. If you are not clear on the requirements for this assignment, please review the Discussion Instructions [tab to left].

At the onset of the Warring States period in ancient China [c.481-221BCE], both Confucius [the founder of Confucianism] and Lao Tzu [the founder of Taoism] had developed their own means of promoting the Way of Harmony (or Tao).

Please compare and contrast the following two quotes from these Chinese masters. What does Confucius mean by his comparison of the effects on society of penal law as opposed to moral excellence and virtue? Why is the cultivation of culture and the observance of religious ritual so important to Confucius? What does Lao Tzu mean by his use of paradoxical or contradictory statements, such as leaders must serve and warriors must seek to avoid violence? Is Lao Tzu's concept of 'non-competition' practical in today's society?

Finally: Which one do you agree with more? Why?

Confucius: 'Lead the people with administrative injunctions and keep them orderly with penal law, and they will avoid punishments but will be without a sense of shame. Lead them with excellence and virtue [Te] and keep them orderly through observing ritual propriety [Li] and they will develop a sense of shame, and moreover, will order themselves.'

Lao Tzu: 'The best warriors do not use violence. The best generals do not destroy indiscriminately. The best tacticians try to avoid confrontation. The best leaders become servants of their people. This is called the virtue of non-competition. This is called the power to manage others. This is called attaining harmony with Heaven [Tian].'

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