Socrates’ search for what mirrors true reality and how one can follow it corresponds greatly with the buddha’s concern for what was right.

Published by Jeannie R. Ferrell

Dec 8, 2022

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1) The political structure of early MesoAmerican societies reminds one of the Greek social structure in place between different city-states. Much like the Greeks, the people inhabiting MesoAmerica made up many different groups, each distinct in culture and practices; however still encompassing an overarching unity of their grander surrounding area. Of course, these differences in beliefs and culture lead to some military conflicts, much like the warring city-states of Ancient Greece. These different groups were able to share ideas through this pan-cultural and separate political structure and share some common unity among their vast diversity; the Video: MesoAmerica pointing out that this “constant communication created a Pan MesoAmerican identity (5:05).” If one harkens back to the early Greek city-states, a resemblance between the two structures is clear, for example, considering their vast diversity in schools of thoughts, territories and democratic societies that ranged in difference from one group to the next. “Unity in the Greek world was at best fleeting and was never achieved by the Greeks themselves  (Video: Early Greek World 8:49).” This quote from just mere weeks ago rings strikingly similarly to a quote relating to the MesoAmerican societies, “MesoAmerica was never unified under a single civilization or empire (Video: MesoAmerica 4:31).” The pan-cultural unity contrasting with the multitude of diverse societies in both the early Greek and MesoAmerican world can be owed to the similarities in political structure of each’s overarching area. 
2) Socrates offered greater contrast to his inhabited society and the proof of this lies in many forms but, plainly, his execution and its basis speak for itself. The Buddha was followed for his teachings, given money and resources to have a community of monks, and his practices were endorsed and practiced by rulers in powerful positions. Now, Socrates was also the recipient of the kindness of elite benefactors in Greek parliament; however, following his execution, he was not a publicly glorified figure like the Buddha who the ruler Ashoka tried to base his empire off of. Socrates wanted those he interacted with to question everything, whereas the Buddha looked more for peace in his surrounding observable world. He offered an answer to the seemingly meaningless suffering where Socrates’ insights helped deconstruct the reality that suffering was based off of. One place where the two do hold striking similarity; however, is in their quest for virtue ad what is right. “Socrates cared deeply about topics such as virtue, justice, wisdom, and knowledge, which for Socrates were all interrelated. We must learn virtues and apply them in our lives. Knowledge for Socrates is liberating because it reveals what is true, what is best (Video: Socrates- Life and Death 1:06).” Socrates’ search for what mirrors true reality and how one can follow it corresponds greatly with the Buddha’s concern for what was right. In fact, he was awoken to “true reality” by achieving nirvana or enlightenment as Herbst mentions in his video on the Buddha. Both want what is right and truthful in the world; although, their methods of achieving this truth vary to almost polar opposite wings. Socrates’ search employed observation of the world around him, whereas the Buddha looked within to find his inner enlightenment and peace- his liberation from Samsara and the self. 
3) Chandragupta ultimately had a greater impact on the Indian Empire. He was the leader who was actually able to transform his nation into a fully formed and wealthy empire with militaristic and architectural tactics. Ashoka was more reflected on simply because he had the ability and foresight to write edicts which were constructed by virtue of how he would want to be remembered. This writing technology did not exist for Chandragupta, but that doesn’t make his impact any less important simply on the basis of being less documented. As a leader, he believed in ruling in a way that would bring economic militaristic prosperity; however, in a way that balanced with the happiness of the people. “These included ways to bolster economic prosperity through irrigation, cultivation of new lands, mining, trade, in order to secure a solid tax base, but only at a level that would keep people content (Video: Empire in India 5:12).” He served the people, and this is a role that Ashoka later adopts as well- likely gaining insight into effective ways of ruling from Chandragupta’s success. In his edicts, it is written, “Truly, I consider the welfare of all to be my duty… (Edicts of Ashoka pg. 3).” This “serving the people” mindset he adopts in his writing, one can see, is not new. His position was indeed previously filled by Chandragupta who, with his Brahmin advisor, used this certain logic to bing prosperity that paved the way for Ashoka’s vision for success and for how he was to be represented to future generations. 

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