Social theory is the process of examining our assumptions about human nature and social reality. Many people make suppositions of how individuals lived before the time we were born into the mold of the world we live in today with all the inventions we have. Now that we have actual research is done and photo and video proof, we are able to become aware of how we got to where we are today, thanks to our ancestors. This includes prehistory and archaic spirituality, Buddhist and Christian non-violent social theory and Judeo-Christian social theory that is explored.
Huston Smith wrote an article in tribute to the Native Americans explaining that they had what the world had lost. Similar to the videos watched, it was explained how the Native Americans did not take anything for granted and kept the world peacefully together with their traditions and ways of life. They focus on the important things in life and the loss of civilization, stating that when we are less clear in our values, we are less likely to focus on what is important in life.
The losses mention by Collier in Smith are, “Reverence and passion for human personality, and for the early and its web of life” (Collier in Smith).
A shaman is a person viewed as having access to, and influence in the world of the good and bad spirits who typically enter a trance state during a ritual and practice prediction and healing toward others. These people are generally located in northern Asia and North America.
They have a special gift of prediction that was shown between the two videos watched, exactly predicting things that will happen and how the person will be, for example in the TedTalk Phil Borges was predicted to hide behind his camera which was shown with how he takes his panorama pictures. He stated, “Our culture gives us little permission to explore non-rational states of consciousness” (Borges). Phil Borges explains the story if him visiting many parts of the world and interacting with traditional seers with his photographs. He documents the indigenous and tribal cultures, determined to create an appreciation of the challenges they encounter and how they often overcome those challenges. Myths of the spirits connect the Shamans and seers to the ear in a profound way that is never understood or explained. Myths are neither true nor false but symbolic stories that give us meaning and teach us how to act, connecting back to the Shamans and Seers.
Many traditions were shown through the Dream Time documentary that expressed the way people lived when they had nothing handed to them and had to work, hunt, and make the things they needed to live and support their families. The native culture of Australia includes a great number of tribes inhabiting the oceanic land before the influx of white men. It was explained that the paintings were the way to show their way of life and their beliefs and that the past and present come alive through these paintings. They often painted themselves while singing and dancing to look like the spirits and to worship and give thanks to nature. The video expresses the preservation of elders showing the most important elements of the culture they struggle to keep alive. The rituals they have contact the parallel world in which the gods, spirits, and men all live together where the didgeridoo is use which is the musical instrument. The musicians showed and explained the complex way to make and use these instruments which is crazy to watch, as they use just the things around them instead of the automatic machines we have nowadays. This also makes their instruments and tools more meaningful knowing this created them by hand and put time and effort in to make it perfect. The last thing was watching how the Native Americans got food to eat and the traditions that come along with it for all the families of the fishermen to share. To them, this is a sacred event that comes with hard work of catching a turtle that the cooking of it is very important. They must make sure it is cooked from the inside out with hot stones on top of a fire and then the oldest man evenly cuts the turtle amongst the families, as he knows best what gets taken out beforehand and how to disburse the meat evenly.
The Native Americans approach to social reality is drastically different than the one we have lived and grew up in. We lived in an industrialized reality where we take things for granted such as social hierarchy, domination and linear time. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible for us to think of the world in a different way since we have never had to experience that type of living that our ancestors grew up in. We are to work for a living in order to take care of our families and pay for a home and a car to drive us around, as well as the food we put on the table and the clothing we wear, instead of living out in the wilderness where you must make your home out of the trees and supplies there and catch the food you eat with the weapons you hand-make. We take for granted the things we have so easily handed to us, instead of understanding the true value of a meal in front of us that was worked hard for with bare hands.
Buddhism is a major global religion with a complex history and system of beliefs. The founder of Buddhism is Siddhartha Gautama who meditated beneath a tree and came to the understanding of being free from suffering and ultimately achieving salvation. He was known as Buddha which means the “Enlightened One” and enjoyed his life journeying around India and teaching others what he has come to understand over the course of his life. The major teachings of Buddha were called the Four Nobel Truths. Life is suffering which is caused by desires. To end suffering, you learn to control your desires by taking the 8-Fold Path of life and achieving a middle way. Or in other words, you develop behavior modifications to end desires and you achieve a moderate lifestyle. Salvation comes through the process of reincarnation which is based on karma. Reincarnation is a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth where the body dies but the soul is reborn into another life. Karma is the energy generated by your thoughts and life actions. Good Karma leads to escaping reincarnation, bad karma leads to a negative reincarnation. Nirvana-the goal of Buddhism is to achieve Nirvana, where the soul escapes reincarnation and enters a state of ultimate bliss, peace, and happiness. The soul is extinguished and finds peace.
Mindfulness meditation, also known as Shamatha, is very important for one to do, as it is a way to escape from reality and focus on oneself. When inducing a state of relaxation, there are many benefits to be reaped. This can go in many different paths of calming down from being anxious or stressed, slowing down heart rate or lowering blood pressure, or even increasing immune function when not feeling well. Through mindfulness meditation, you are able to develop and strengthen the mind, remaining peacefully in our mind without struggling and feeling naturally content. It is something very simple and easy for anyone to do, in almost any environment of comfort. Each mediation is a way of unearthing and understanding the basic truth of who we are.
Buddhist practice an act of non-violence toward others. Between the readings and PBS videos, it is explained that they do this in order to keep the peace. For Buddhists, nonviolence is a way of life, innate of the combination of spiritual insight and practical action. Meditation is fundamental in Buddhism and from it comes empirical indulgences of the nature of suffering and responses to help ease suffering and its causes. Meditation leads to insight and insight leads to good behavior and action on behalf of happiness and liberation. Martin Luther King discussed that people know how to handle violence but are unaware of how to handle nonviolence toward them when that is not the outcome they are expecting. They take the bad situation and make light of it, for example being tossed in jail, they will go in and transform the dungeon-like place into a place of freedom and human dignity. They preach to love their enemies with goodwill and that will be enough revenge than to use physical or verbal violence. They believe it is more effective to act in a nonviolent way toward others.
Gandhi believes that Buddha was one of the greatest teachers of non-violence and that he taught us to defy appearances and trust in the final achievement of truth and love that he focused on. Gandhi continued what the Buddha created and undertakes the transformation of all worldly conditions. He was following in his footsteps showing the connection between the service of suffering humanity and the process of self-purification as expressed in the four Nobel Truths. In the video from Shane Claiborne, he showed how self-fulfilling it is to be able to change one person’s life. He explained that you may not be able to make a large change but as long as you help one person it transitions into the next helping hand until they reach heaven and thank them for getting there. He made a valid point that it is not a sin to be rich but is a sin to die rich when you can put that money to good use and help those in need. These social teachings connect in an important way to end the suffering of those who do not deserve it and find a cause to end it. Gandhi takes what the Buddha created with the four Nobel Truths and the parts within it, connecting to the 8-Fold Path to reach the place of nirvana, the ultimate place of happiness.
Shane Claiborne is part of a new movement of people called “new monastics” where their views are culturally divergent on issues such as wealth sharing within the community. This is where he explained whether it is a sin or not to be rich and his reason behind what he thinks. Shane wants to be able to share the wealth among everyone in need, rather than let certain people have more than they could possibly need or use. With the conservation of individualism, it is imaginable to insinuate a merging of Ghanaian and Buddhist humanism of nonviolence and compassion across the world.