Hurricane Harvey, Climate Change, and a Post-Truth World

Is climate change real? There is a lot of confusion about climate change. Some question whether it is even real, while others deny that it is caused by humans. Many people feel disconnected from what the effects of climate change would be. Unfortunately, Hurricane Harvey has hit Texas and Louisiana with what CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen labeled a “one-in-1,000-years type of event.”[1]

Did climate change play a part in this heart wrenching disaster? Washington Post reporter Ishaan Tharoor explains, “Climate change may not have ’caused’ Hurricane Harvey, but it seems likely that warming temperatures — the consequence of man-made greenhouse gases trapping heat in the atmosphere — exacerbated the storm conditions.”[2] We have never seen a storm in the United States like Hurricane Harvey. Eric Holthaus from POLITICO Magazine is blunt, “Harvey is what climate change looks like. More specifically, Harvey is what climate change looks like in a world that has decided, over and over, that it doesn’t want to take climate change seriously.”[3] Michael E Mann, professor of meteorology and director of the Earth System Science Centre at Pennsylvania State University, states, “while we cannot say climate change “caused” Hurricane Harvey (that is an ill-posed question), we can say is that it exacerbated several characteristics of the storm in a way that greatly increased the risk of damage and loss of life. Climate change worsened the impact of Hurricane Harvey.”[4]

So why is there still doubt about climate change? Eric Mack from Forbes warns, “Climate change arguments are among the least productive because typically I’ve found each side is working from their own set of facts or worldviews that are incompatible with each other and make it impossible to find any common ground.”[5] This is strange, isn’t it. They are working from “their own set of facts.”

There can be no doubt that worldviews not only determine what you see, they determine how you see. But facts, these should be true no matter what your worldview. Not seeing the facts because of one’s worldview happens. But are we really to believe that truth no longer matters? That all we care about is our comfort, our convenience, our self-interest?

A Post-Truth World

“Post-Truth” is the Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year for 2016. It defines post-truth as, “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”[6] It seems that truth, the correspondence between thought and reality, is no longer that important.

We all need to learn how to think critically. It is a skill that we will need to maneuver through this post-truth world. A statement that says something is so, is called a claim. All claims are either true or false. Based on the evidence, we can do one of three things with a claim: accept it, reject it, or suspend judgment about it. Each choice should be based on evidence. If the evidence shows it is probably true, we should accept the claim. If the evidence is divided and could be either true or false, we should suspend judgment. If there is little or no evidence for the claim, we should reject it.

Is Climate Change Real?

So what is the evidence for climate change? The Union of Concerned Scientists says that the planet’s temperature is rising, carbon dioxide levels are increasing in the atmosphere, and we know that increased CO2 is the primary driver of global warming.[7] The National Aeronautics and Space Administration states that “The evidence for rapid climate change is compelling.”[8] They then provide several lines of evidence:

(1) Sea level rise: Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century.
(2) Global temperature rise: All three major global surface temperature reconstructions show that Earth has warmed since 1880. Most of this warming has occurred since the 1970s, with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.
(3) Warming oceans: The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) of ocean showing warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.
(4) Shrinking ice sheets: The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost 150 to 250 cubic kilometers (36 to 60 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while Antarctica lost about 152 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of ice between 2002 and 2005.
(5) Declining Arctic sea ice: Both the extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice has declined rapidly over the last several decades.
(6) Glacial retreat: Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world – including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa.
(7) Extreme events: The number of record high temperature events in the United States has been increasing, while the number of record low temperature events has been decreasing, since 1950. The U.S. has also witnessed increasing numbers of intense rainfall events.
(8) Ocean acidification: Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent. This increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence more being absorbed into the oceans. The amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the upper layer of the oceans is increasing by about 2 billion tons per year.
(9) Decreased snow cover: Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and that the snow is melting earlier.[9]

In a joint publication of The US National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, declared, “Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time. It is now more certain than ever, based on many lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth’s climate. The atmosphere and oceans have warmed, accompanied by sea-level rise, a strong decline in Arctic sea ice, and other climate-related changes. The evidence is clear.”[10]

Notice the last sentence, “The evidence is clear.” The US National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society is the largest body of scientists, and they have collectively said that “humans are changing Earth’s climate.” Why doesn’t the American public know this? Why is there still doubt? It seem to be so clear.

What is the Consensus of Scientists?

If all this is so clear, why do we keep hearing on media that the scientists are in doubt? They are not. The vast majority of scientists believe that global warming is real and that humans are contributing to it. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration states that, “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.”[11]

Clearly the scientific consensus is that “global warming is real and that humans are contributing to it.” but, with few exceptions, this is not what you will hear in the media. And there still are millions of people who either deny climate change outright, or they are in doubt about it.

Why is there Still Doubt?

Money is why there are still doubts. Big oil is not going down without a fight. They know that they can’t fight the science, the evidence is there. So they have decided to cast doubt in the political and public arena. Nothing will get done as long as people doubt the science. That’s what they want. There is a great documentary called Merchants of Doubt, that explains this in detail. It traces the connection from tobacco industry tactics to the fossil fuel industry.

But for many Americans, the question is not about the facts. They see government intervention as a threat to freedom. They don’t want to change their lifestyle or way of living. They are not interested in looking too closely at the “boring” science. They prefer to listen to the “experts” of front groups that sound legitimate, such as the American Enterprise Institute, Americans for Prosperity, Heartland Institute, Heritage Foundation, and others. As the Union of Concerned Scientists explains, “These organizations play a key role in the fossil fuel industry’s “disinformation playbook,” a strategy designed to confuse the public about global warming and delay action on climate change. Why? Because the fossil fuel industry wants to sell more coal, oil, and gas — even though the science clearly shows that the resulting carbon emissions threaten our planet.”[12]

It is funny, isn’t it. All this talk that global warming is a conspiracy and a hoax, and it turns out the other way around. The real hoax is the lie that climate is not changing because of human activities. Without studying the facts, one can understand why the American public is confused. But if, as the US National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, has said, “Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time,” then we have an obligation to inform ourselves. You could start by watching Leonardo DiCaprio’s new documentary entitled, Before the Flood.

Conclusion

I am not a scientist, but I have studied Climate Change and Environmental Science at several schools, including Curtin University, Chalmers University of Technology, University of British Columbia, and Dartmouth College. So I write this as an informed citizen of planet Earth. I can assure you that climate change is real, and that we are to blame for it. Those interested in living an evidence based life have no choice but to accept the reality of climate change.

But after you realize the truth about climate change, a sense of helplessness may set in. Sure you can xeriscape your lawn, use high-efficiency appliances, recycle and use recyclable packaging, replace your light with LED or fluorescent bulbs, install a solar panel, walk or bike more, and even buy an electric or fuel-efficient car. But that may not be enough.

The most important thing we must do is to change the government. That will take the majority of Americans believing in global warming. There are many hurdles to this – religion, ideology, and conspiracy theory thinking. Once the majority of the American people believe, they need to vote for politicians who believe in climate change. But this means that they need to view climate change, not as a side issue, but as “one of the defining issues of our time.”

Endnotes

1. https://thinkprogress.org/pence-im-not-anti-science-but-i-don-t-believe-in-global-warming-stem-cell-research-or-evolution-f823856e5198#.aeic8vdbw
2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/08/29/hurricane-harvey-and-the-inevitable-question-of-climate-change/
3. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/28/climate-change-hurricane-harvey-215547
4. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/28/climate-change-hurricane-harvey-more-deadly
5. http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericmack/2016/11/11/donald-trump-says-climate-change-is-a-hoax-lets-discuss/#5da176971d50
6. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/word-of-the-year/word-of-the-year-2016
7. http://www.ucsusa.org/our-work/global-warming/science-and-impacts/global-warming-science#.WC5NaXUrJkU
8. http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/
9. Ibid.
10. http://dels.nas.edu/resources/static-assets/exec-office-other/climate-change-full.pdf
11. http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/
12. http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/solutions/fight-misinformation/global-warming-skeptic.html#.WC5ZLHUrJkU

What Makes You Not a Bodhidaoist

Since Bodhidaoism is a new worldview in the making, it might be helpful to say what it isn’t. Sometimes explaining what something is not helps people get a better picture of what it is. To this end, let me explain what makes a person not a Bodhidaoist.

No Supernatural

A Bodhidaoist does not believe in the supernatural. Since there is no evidence for God, angels, heavens, and hells, a Bodhidaoist doesn’t believe in them. A Bodhidaoist holds that we should have good reasons for what we believe, especially in important matters such as what reality basically is.

Bodhidaoism is built upon the foundations of philosophical naturalism and current scientific consensus. Naturalism is the belief that the natural world is a closed system and that all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws. Naturalism is based on the evidence of the sciences. We have asked nature thousands of questions, in the form of experiments, and nature has never given us a supernatural answer. The logical reason that this would be the case is because there is no supernatural.

But Bodhidaoism is not dogmatic about this. You can’t prove that the supernatural doesn’t exist, because you can’t generally prove a negative. So Bodhidaoists don’t claim that the we know for certain that the supernatural doesn’t exist, but only that there are no good reasons to believe in it. So Bodhidaoists are nontheists rather than atheists. Nontheists withhold belief in God, while atheists claim that there is no God. (Most atheists are actually nontheists).

From a Bodhidaoist perspective, it is wrong to believe in the supernatural because we have no good reasons to believe in the supernatural. The natural world, on the other hand, we have ample evidence for. Our best and most reliable means of knowing the natural world is science. This is why Bodhidaoists are committed to the sciences.

Non-Institutional

A Bodhidaoist is not a member of a Bodhidaoist institution. Bodhidaoism has no priests, monks, nuns, churches, Sanghas, congregations, schools, or official leaders. It is private path and a personal spirituality that is completely the responsibility of the individual to practice and cultivate.

The problem with clergy and institutions is that they reduce or remove the responsibility of the individual. They are not all bad, they do offer a sense of community and belonging. They offer opportunities for learning, companionship, united effort, and cooperation. But Bodhidaoism is for the sole practitioner. Bodhidaoists, if they meet together, do so informally and as equal partners in waking up. They have no leaders, for all learn from each other.

In Bodhidaoism we recognize a threefold division of people according to their spiritual development. There are muggles who are not interested or engaged in the path of awakening, philosophers who are on the path of awakening, and the sage who has died, but who was far advanced on the path of awakening. We accept no living person as a sage.

Not Buddhists

Bodhidaoists are not Buddhists. We reject the Buddha’s teaching of rebirth, karma, and the six realms. It is not fair to Buddhists for us to hijack their label, even if we qualify it by calling it secular. As long as the label Buddhist is in it, all we teach will be judged by whether or not it is consistent with what the Buddha taught. We refuse to be put in the Buddhist box and recognize truth in other wisdom traditions besides Buddhism.

Although Bodhidaoism is not a form of Buddhism, it is greatly indebted to the teachings of the Buddha and the many Buddhist teachers that came after him. There is no doubt that the Buddha was one of the greatest psychologists of all time. But he was ignorant of modern science, and therefore mistaken about the nature of the world. Since we are not Buddhists, we have no obligation to defend his metaphysical positions.

Not Taoists

Bodhidaoists are not Taoists (Daoists). Taoism has many insight about living in harmony with the way (Tao) of nature. It gives us insights into unselfconscious spontaneous action or flow (wu wei). It teaches us about naturalness and virtue. But its most important teaching for Bodhidaoism is the yin (subjective) and yang (objective) aspect of our reality.

Dualist Naturalism is the view that there is one reality, the cosmos, but that it is manifested in dualities. As Alan Watts explains, “Really, the fundamental, ultimate mystery – the only thing you need to know to understand the deepest metaphysical secrets – is this: that for every outside there is an inside and for every inside there is an outside, and although they are different, they go together” (2002, 10).

One of the important distinctions for any philosophy of life is the inside and outside of us humans. For us, the inside is the subjective world of the mind, and the outside is the objective world of the senses. This is something Existentialism emphasized.

We are also open to a pantheism restricted to the natural world. There is a sense that Nature is sacred for Bodhidaoists, and hence, one could say that the universe is divine. But terminology is an issue for many people, so I do not insist on calling Bodhidaoism a pantheistic belief. But it definitely leans in that direction.

But Taoism turned the Tao into a religion with beliefs in gods and immortality. So just like Buddhism, we reject the label Taoists and are not restricted to just one wisdom tradition.

Not Stoics

Stoicism has many similarities to Buddhism. At times, it almost seems as if Stoicism is a Western version of Buddhism. But the influence of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle is also evident.

Bodhidaoism is not a form of Stoicism, but owes a debt to it. The whole idea of philosophy as a way of life, the idea of followers being call philosophers, and the importance of self-cultivation is drawn from Stoicism. Stoicism is one of Bodhidaoism’s main connections to the Western tradition. It is what helps bridge the gap between the East (Buddhism and Taoism) and the West (Stoicism and Humanism).

Not Humanists

Bodhidaoism could be considered a form of Humanism. Looking at the Humanist Manifesto III, let’s compare them. Just like Humanism, Bodhidaoism is a “progressive philosophy of life.” And just like Humanism, Bodhidaoism is “without theism and other supernatural beliefs.” But as Humanism aspires to “the greater good of humanity,” Bodhidaoism aims for the greater good of all living things. Here our commitment to the environment is explicit.

But rather than say that Bodhidaoism is a form of Humanism, it would be more accurate to say that it is a form of Spiritual Naturalism. Our ultimate concern is not the human race, but nature as a whole. We believe that being human-centered is part of the problem for our current environmental crisis. We must get past our self-centeredness and see the interconnected nature of reality.

Not a Closed System

Bodhidaoism is not a closed system that is set in stone. It is open to modification and revision, based upon the best evidence we have. Things that would be fatal to Bodhidaoism are supernaturalism and the denial of awakening.

Because Bodhidaoism is not a closed system, it is open to personal interpretation and modification. It is a personal philosophy of life that is to be customized to each person’s own journey and personality. You could consider it an open source philosophy. Saying it is “open source” means that it is something people can modify and share.

Bodhidaoism is not only committed to the physical sciences, it is also interested in neuroscience, psychology, and psychotherapy, especially Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Humanistic Psychology, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, EcoTherapy, and Positive Psychology. It seeks to incorporate the best that these and others disciplines provide. Besides Buddhism, Taoism, Stoicism, and Humanism, Bodhidaoism also is influenced by Confucianism, Phenomenology, Charvaka, Existentialism, Pragmatism, and EcoSpirituality. We are also open to insights gleaned from secularized versions of supernatural traditions such as Christianity, Paganism, Gnosticism, Kabbalah, Hesychasm, Hermeticism, Sufism, Mysticism, and Native American traditions.

No Scripture

Bodhidaoism has no Bible and holds no writing as Scripture. Eventually I want to write a book bringing all my thoughts together, but the book will serve as a guide, not a bible. It’s only authority is what you give it. Question everything and everyone, follow the evidence. Be your own refuge. You alone are fully responsible for your life.

Not a Religion

Daniel Dennett’s working definition of religions is, “social systems whose participants avow belief in a supernatural agent or agents whose approval is to be sought” (2006, 9).

First, Bodhidaoism is not a social system and has no social structures. Second, there is a rejection of the supernatural in all forms. Bodhidaoism is a philosophy of life based upon science, reason, and subjective experience.

Bodhidaoism is a spiritual philosophy not a religious system. One meaning of the word spirit is consciousness. So by spiritual I mean the expansion or deepening of awareness of union and communion with nature.

Not Scientism

Scientism is “an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation” (Merriam-Webster.com). Science and spirituality deal with two separate arenas. Science deals with the objective world out there, spirituality deals with the subjective world of consciousness, the world within.

Jean-Paul Sartre says concerning Existentialism, “subjectivity must be our point of departure” (2007, 20). He says that, “Any theory that considers man outside of this moment of self-awareness is, at the outset, a theory that suppresses the truth” (2007, 40). All searching for the truth is done by persons, persons who are subjective. Science is great when dealing with things, but it is psychology and spirituality that deals with persons. We need both in balance, like the yin and yang of Taoism.

You Might Be a Bodhidaoist

If you believe that the natural world is all that exists, and you believe that there is a lot of unnecessary unhappiness in the world, and you believe that many wisdom traditions point us towards waking up to a life of lovingkindness, compassion and inner peace, then you might be a Bodhidaoist.

Many people prefer to work within a tradition and try to reform it. There is nothing wrong with that. Some people want to join an organized religion, and that is fine. But there are some of us who feel it is time to try something new. A path of one. Bodhidaoism is that new path.

If you believe in the basic principles of Bodhidaoism and engage in some spiritual practice of awakening, then you can call yourself a Bodhidaoist. If not, then find a path that fits you better. Bodhidaoism is not the way, it is a way. It is simply a way that learns from all, but clings to none.

References

American Humanist Association. (2003) “Humanist Manifesto III” https://americanhumanist.org/what-is-humanism/manifesto3/
• Dennett, Daniel C. (2006). Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. New York: Penguin Books.
• Sartre, Jean-Paul. (2007) Existentialism Is a Humanism. New Haven: Yale University Press.
• Watts, Alan. (2002) The Tao of Philosophy. Mark Watts, ed. Rutland, VT: Tuttle Publishing.

Muggles, Philosophers, and Sages

In most spiritual traditions you have a distinction between the wise and the fool. In the Dhammapada, the Buddha says, “If, while on your way you meet no one your equal or better, steadily continue on your way alone. There is no fellowship with fools” (Fronsdal 2008, 17). The Bible says, “The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin” (Proverbs 10:14 NIV).

But in Bodhidaoism, I view this distinction as too harsh and too extreme. Things are rarely that black and white. Furthermore, calling someone a fool is overly harsh and gives the impression that there is no hope for the fool. It also paints the wise in too good of a light. There a very few that I would actually call wise. Rather, reality is more nuanced. There are the very unwise, the unwise, the slightly wise, the fairly wise, and the sage.

This is why I prefer dividing up people into muggles, philosophers, and sages. John Sellars draws a similar distinction, when he says that, “In between these two classes of the foolish majority and the rare sage, there is a third group, those who are ‘making progress’ (2009, 63). He calls this third group “lovers of wisdom.” A philosopher is literally a lover of wisdom. So if we change fool into muggle, you find my threefold division. But since I use these words differently from Sellars and common use, let me explain.

Muggles

The Online Etymology Dictionary tells us that the word muggle is “of unknown origin.” But it does note that it was used in 1926 to refer to “marijuana, a joint,” and was “apparently originally a New Orleans word (2010). But it was J. K. Rowling who popularized it. As the English Oxford Living Dictionaries explain, the word muggle was “used in the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling to mean ‘a person without magical powers’” (2017). It is now informally used to refer to “A person who is not conversant with a particular activity or skill.”

Bodhidaoism is the path of awakening. You are either on the path to awakening or you are not. There is no third option. If you are not on the path of awakening you are a muggle, you are uninterested and uninformed about the need for awakening. A muggle is someone who is uninterested and uninvolved in the process of awakening, and therefore, does not love and seek wisdom.

So there is a difference between a fool and a muggle. A fool, according to Webster’s New World College Dictionary is “a person with little or no judgment, common sense, wisdom, etc.; silly or stupid person; simpleton” (2014). A muggle, on the other hand, may be smart and informed. A muggle may be intelligent, but is uninterested and uninvolved in awakening to the true nature of reality. The problem is not knowledge but vision. They don’t need more knowledge, they need new eyes.

Morpheus, from the movie The Matrix, probably said it best, “Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.” Muggles ignore that feeling. They are not interested in discovering how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

The practical benefit of distinguishing muggles from those on the path of awakening is spelled out by the quote of the Buddha we referred to earlier, “If, while on your way you meet no one your equal or better, steadily continue on your way alone. There is no fellowship with muggles.” Muggles can be a distraction from the journey to awakening. They are interested in things that are unimportant and have views that are unenlightened. The Buddha said, “The deluded, imaging trivial things to be vital to life, follow their vain fancies and never attain the highest knowledge” (Easwaran 2007, 106).

Philosophers

Philosophy is the “love of wisdom,” a love that consumes one’s life in the pursuit of the beloved. Originally, remarks Pierre Hadot, “philosophy was a way of life” (1995, 265). This idea is, in the words of Jules Evans, “quite far from the contemporary academic model of philosophy, where students are taught a theory and then tested in that theory” (2012, 11). “Philosophy,” explains Pierre Hadot, “was a method of spiritual progress which demanded a radical conversion and transformation of the individual’s way of being” (1995, 265). In Bodhidaoism, that radical conversion is from being unaware and indifferent, to the pursuit of the wisdom to awakening to reality as it truly is. This is the life goal of the philosopher.

According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the word philosopher in Greek is philosophos, meaning a “lover of wisdom” (2016). This love of wisdom includes the pursuit of wisdom. Many philosophers today fall short of this ideal. They are philomathes, not philosophers. Philomathes are a lover of learning and studying, not necessarily lovers of wisdom. They may be smart, but they are not wise.

In Bodhidaoism there are two kinds of philosophers, students and teachers. Both are lovers of wisdom who pursue a way of life that is conducive to gaining and apply wisdom. You are a muggle until you actually try to live wisely. Philosophers are not wise men and women, they are men and woman trying to live wiser day by day. They are imperfect and inconsistent. They may mistakes, But they are always learning and growing, becoming more aware and less judgmental. They are learning to be mindful and live in the present moment.

Sages

So what is a sage? The Chinese word is shen ren, referring to a person “of the highest virtue and respected, of great wisdom, has reached the highest and most perfect state of the human person, it sometimes specifically refers to Confucius” (Pattberg 2011, 67). But remember that Confucius was not recognized as a sage until after his death.

In Bodhidaoism, no one living is a recognized sage. A sage is like a Catholic Saint, only recognized as such after their death. There is a reason for this. Calling a living person a sage places them above others, grants them an authority they may or may not deserve, and induces people to stop questioning them. This is a dangerous place both for the sage and the student. We should learn from all, but cling to none.

If sages are so dangerous, why have them at all? For the same reason they are found in Stoicism. As Donald Robertson explains, “This concept of someone perfectly wise and good gives the aspiring Stoic direction, structure, and consistency in her practice” (2013, 112). However, the Stoics went too far in making the sage perfect beyond reality. The fact is that the ideal sage was “a fiction” that they “were doubtful” ever existed “in the flesh” (Robertson 2013, 112).

In Bodhidaoism, the sage is not perfect but very advanced and led an exemplary life. Each sage has faults and imperfections. The four most influential wisdom traditions on the formation of Bodhidaoism are Buddhism, Taoism, Stoicism, and Humanism. The foremost sage of Buddhism is Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. The foremost sage of Taoism is Laozi. The foremost sage of Stoicism is Socrates. And the foremost sage of Humanism is Confucius. More modern sages might include Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Dalai Lama.

References

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2016) New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
English Oxford Living Dictionaries. (2017) Oxford: Oxford University Press.
• Evans, Jules. (2012) Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations: Ancient Philosophy for Modern Problems. Novato, CA: New World Library.
• Fronsdal, Gil. (2008) The Dhammapada: Teachings of the Buddha. Boston: Shambhala Publications.
• Hadot, Pierre. (1995) Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault. Arnold I. Davidson, ed. Michael Chase, tr. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
Online Etymology Dictionary. (2010) Douglas Harper, ed. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/muggle
• Pattberg, Thorsten. (2011) Holy Confucius! Some Observations in Translating sheng(ren) in The Analects. New York: LoD Press.
• Robertson, Donald. (2013) Stoicism and the Art of Happiness. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
• Sellars, John. (2009) The Art of Living: The Stoics on the Nature and Function of Philosophy, Second Edition. London: Bristol Classical Press.
Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fifth Edition (2014) New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Statement about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia

I am a member of the Spiritual Naturalist Society Council and voted to approve the following official statement:

“We at the Spiritual Naturalist Society were saddened by the events in Charlottesville, Virginia this week. Even before the tragic loss of life and violence that took place, the very appearance of groups who would march as, and alongside, supporters of Nazism and White Supremacy was enough to make us all take pause and work to listen, learn, and love more. SNS is not a political organization but as a spiritual community that promotes both reason and compassion, it is our responsibility to speak against that which cannot be considered moral. Consistent with our mission, we strongly condemn hate and the rhetoric and actions which lead to more of the same. Rather, let us be courageous in standing up for the kind of society we want, one in which everyone matters and dignity is extended to all. May we find creative ways to overcome these old and new challenges through greater diligence in our actions, awareness in our being, and loving-kindness in our hearts.”

— The SNS Council, on behalf of our community