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Discussion Prompts

Please generate three discussion threads, each addressing a different one of the following three Discussion Prompts [generating 3 threads total, while giving each thread a clear title (e.g. ‘Discussion Topic 1’)]

Discussion Prompt 1:

“This [Smith’s previous point that satisfaction of the desire for worldly success is more substantial than pleasure] does not have to be argued for a contemporary Western audience. The Anglo-American temperament is not voluptuous. Visitors from abroad do not find English-speaking peoples enjoying life a great deal, or much bent on doing so – they are too busy. Being enamored not of sensualism but of success, what takes arguing in the West is not that achievement’s rewards exceed those of the senses but that success too has its limitations – that ‘What is he worth?’ does not come down to ‘How much has he got?’ (Smith, 15)

Who are these ‘Anglo-Americans’ to which Smith refers? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-American

Do you agree with this characterization of Anglo-Americans as not “…enjoying life a great deal, or much bent on doing so – they are too busy. ”? Explain your view.

Discussion Prompt 2:

“What is distinctive in Hinduism is the amount of attention it has devoted to identifying basic spiritual personality types and the disciplines that are most likely to work for each. The result is a recognition, pervading the entire religion, that there are multiple paths to God, each calling for its distinctive mode of travel.” (Smith, 28)

What do we think about this claim, that there are multiple paths to God?

A.The use of the singular (i.e. god v. gods) and capitalization, as with a proper name {i.e. (the) God v. (a) god} would seem to imply the same, identical, one and only one God…would that change your mind?

B.The idea of many paths to the same goal (of union with God) might seem to discount the worth or value of the path itself, while some religions place more emphasis on the path than the goal…what do you think?

Discussion Prompt 3:

“The word ‘my’ always implies a distinction between the possessor and what is possessed; when I speak of my book or my jacket, I do not suppose that I am those things. But I also speak of my body, my mind, and my personality, giving evidence thereby that in some sense sense I consider myself as distinct from them as well. What is this “I” that possesses my body and mind, but is not their equivalent?

Again, science tells me that there is almost nothing in my body that was there seven years ago, and my mind and my personality have undergone comparable changes. Yet throughout their manifold revisions, I have remained in some way the same person, the person who believed now this, now that; who once was young and is now old. What is this something in my makeup, more constant than body or mind, that has endured these changes?” (Smith, 30, emphasis mine.)

Please reflect upon Smith’s questions, “What is this ‘I’?” and “What is this something…that has endured these changes?”

Ask yourself, ‘Who am I?’ and share your response.

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