Grim_Aeonian

The Philosophical Basis for the Cosmere

19 posts in this topic

Hi everyone, I'm new here but I asked around a bit and found that my ideas on this are somewhat unique, so I thought I'd start this thread.

There will be a lot of discussions I'm hoping to be a part of, but the one that interests me first and foremost is my interpretation of what he is trying to do with the Cosmere books.  Specifically, it is my belief that each Cosmere world is Brandon's exploration of a specific ideological framework (perhaps not to be taken too literally, but definitely with a broad brush), its benefits as well as its pitfalls.

For example, Scadrial would obviously be his exploration of Judeo-Christian ideology and its various denominations.  Sel, I believe is an exploration of nationalism, patriotism, and various aspects of cultural identity and mythlore (the 'Shining City on a Hill', myth for example).  The one I am most certain of, however, and have the most research to back up my theories with, is Roshar as an exploration of Buddhism and its philosophies.  I am fairly certain that each of the orders of the Knights Radiant is centered on a keyword in each of the 10 Vows of the Amida Buddha.  It also seems to me that the symbol for the Knights Radiant (or perhaps that is just the symbol for Roshar in general, I am unsure if he's ever given a clear answer on that) with the 5 swords effectively creating 10 points of intersection on a circle bears a striking resemblance to the Dharma Wheel (see attached image) and even the continent of Roshar seems suggestive of the Yin/Yang symbol to me.

I have much, much more but I have to dig my notes out, something I absolutely will do, but in the meantime, any thoughts?

 

Image result for dharma wheelImage result for symbol for the knights radiant

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For most if it, I can't truly speak to the accuracy or inaccuracies of your opinions because I don't know enough... 

The double eye though, the symbol of the Knights Radiant, (with multiple versions, the most complex being the surgebinding chart itself) is based loosely off of the Tree of Sefirot from the Jewish Kaballah. 

Quote

Questioner

Is Hoid named after the Sephira of Hod? Like with an Ashkenazi pronunciation? The Kabbalistic thing.

Brandon Sanderson

Oh, the Kabbalistic thing. Not consciously, though the Double Eye is based a little bit on the Kabbalah tree of life, consciously. That's the illustration on the front cover of the first Stormlight book. And I have read a bunch of Kabbalah, so it's totally possible that it ended up in there on accident.

ICon 2019 (Oct. 15, 2019)

Quote

Questioner

What theologies and philosophies did you draw on to create Vorinism?

Brandon Sanderson

Vorinism is a hodge podge of a lot of different things. Part of is the Jewish Kabbalah--

Questioner

The mysticism of Jewish--

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, the Jewish mysticism. Part of it is Jewish mysticism, part of is [Islam], but there are a lot of things that are just drawing from philosophies rather than theologies. I'm trying to remember what specifically we were doing... But the main concept was the idea of a church that had been subsumed by a monarchy to the point that the [the church] would be very servile. And that concept led me to a lot of the Vorinism discussions.

Words of Radiance Washington, DC signing (March 20, 2014)

 

Knights_Radiant_and_the_ten_Surges.jpg

192px-Ktreewnames.png

Edited by Calderis
4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can’t say I’m too knowledgeable about Buddhism, since the extent of my experience is 2 world religion classes. But when I did a quick google search (I know, I’m such a scholar), I saw references to the 48 vows of the Amida Buddha. Out of curiosity, do you think the 10 orders are based on 10 of these 48, or a separate list of only 10 vows? If they are from this list of 48, can you share which ones you think correlate to which order of knights radiant? I’m just curious. 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, absolutely, I feel this lends more strength to my position, rather than less, as to what he is doing with the Cosmere in general and its basis upon philosophical and ideological explorations.  I had noticed the the Kabbalah similarities on the covers for TWOK but hadn't gotten to that part yet, simply because I didn't think it was particularly germain to the actual philosophy of Roshar as a whole of the underlying plot of the SA.  I was not aware of his inspirations for Vorinism, though, that is nice to know.

With the Dharma Wheel/Knights Radiant symbol (Is that the Knights Radiant symbol?  I've always thought so, but am unaware of confirmation.) I was more specifically referring to both the similarity of design in the radiant lines intersecting the circle and the similarity of the paths of the Knights Radiant and the meaning of the Dharma Wheel, that being the representation of the Noble Eightfold Path.

Image result for what does the dharma wheel symbol mean

 

I will post in a bit with more quotes from the Teachings of the Buddha to back up my Buddhism claim.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Grim_Aeonian I in no way meant to imply that you're incorrect. I was just trying to provide some of what I know Brandon's said.

Even if he has shared it, or it wasn't intentional, I'm interested in any parrelels. Despite my own atheism (or perhaps because of it) I've always been fascinated by religions and theology in general.

Edit: and yes, the double eye is used as a Vorin symbol, and was also the symbol of the Knights. The most complicated version being the surgebinding chart, the middle ground being the circle with 5 crossed swords, and the most simplified being the twin pupiled eye in the chapter headers. 

In the sword image, you can actually see the order glyph circles from the surgebinding chart overlaid in the center. And in the border you can the simplified eye. 

 

WoR_ARCH_I-2_GENERIC_ICON.jpg

Edited by Calderis
2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, ILuvHats said:

I can’t say I’m too knowledgeable about Buddhism, since the extent of my experience is 2 world religion classes. But when I did a quick google search (I know, I’m such a scholar), I saw references to the 48 vows of the Amida Buddha. Out of curiosity, do you think the 10 orders are based on 10 of these 48, or a separate list of only 10 vows? If they are from this list of 48, can you share which ones you think correlate to which order of knights radiant? I’m just curious. 

Here are the specific Vows mentioned in the book "The Teachings of the Buddha" that I had as a reference source:

1) "Though I attain Buddhahood, I shall never be complete until everyone in my land is certain of entering Buddhahood and gaining Enlightenment."

2) "Though I attain Buddhahood, I shall never be complete until my affirming light reaches all over the world."

3) "Though I attain Buddhahood, I shall never be complete until my life endures through the ages and saves innumerable numbers of people."

4) "Though I attain Buddhahood, I shall never be complete until all the Buddhas in the ten directions unite in praising my name."

5) "Though I attain Buddhahood, I shall never be complete until people with sincere faith endeavor to be reborn in my land by repeating my name in sincere faith ten times and actually do succeed in this rebirth."

6) "Though I attain Buddhahood, I shall never be complete until people everywhere determine to attain Enlightenment, practice virtues, sincerely wish to be born in my land; thus, I shall appear at the moment of their death with a great company of Bodhisattvas to welcome them into my Pure Land."

7) "Though I attain Buddhahood, I shall never be complete until people everywhere, hearing my name, think of my land and wish to be born there and, to that end, sincerely plant seeds of virtue, and are thus able to accomplish all to their hearts' desire."

8) "Though I attain Buddhahood, I shall never be complete until all those who are born in my Pure Land attain the rank in which they become Buddha in the next life. Exception to this are those who, based on their personal vow, wear the armor of great vow for the sake of the people, strive for the benefit and peace of the world, lead innumerable people to enlightenment, and cultivate the merit of great compassion."

9) "Though I attain Buddhahood, I shall never be complete until people all over the world are influenced by my spirit of loving compassion that will purify their minds and bodies and lift them above the things of the world."

10) "Though I attain Buddhahood, I shall never be complete until people everywhere, hearing my name, learn right ideas about life and death, and gain that perfect wisdom that will keep their minds pure and tranquil in the midst of the world's greed and suffering."

"Thus I make these vows; may I not attain Buddhahood until they are fulfilled. May I become the source of unlimited Light, freeing and radiating the treasures of my wisdom and virtue, enlightening all lands and emancipating all suffering people."

 

I had to change the letters in front of each vow to numbers in order to avoid emojis but otherwise this is an accurate quote from The Teachings of the Buddha.  https://smile.amazon.com/Teaching-Buddha-Bukkyo-Dendo-Kyokai-ebook/dp/B00ARH5DZI/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+teachings+of+the+buddha&qid=1571815271&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, Calderis said:

@Grim_Aeonian I in no way meant to imply that you're incorrect. I was just trying to provide some of what I know Brandon's said.

Even if he has shared it, or it wasn't intentional, I'm interested in any parrelels. Despite my own atheism (or perhaps because of it) I've always been fascinated by religions and theology in general. 

I also am pretty firmly atheist (I would willingly change my mind based upon actual evidence, though that is NOT AT ALL the same thing as saying I would sign up to worship a god, even if I knew it existed. There are many gods I would never worship, whether they had proven themselves or not.) and have always been fascinated by religions and religious ideologies.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From the same source material: "Buddha has many forms of transfiguration and incarnation, and can manifest Himself in manifold ways according to the ability of each person.

He manifests his body in immense size to cover all the sky and stretches away into the boundless stellar spaces. He also manifests Himself in the infinitesimals of nature, sometimes in forms, sometimes in energy, sometimes in aspects of mind, and sometimes in personality."

Now if that isn't a description of the Stormfather and spren, I'm not sure what would be. There are MANY other notes, and sometimes practically direct quotes that I found, but I don't want to overwhelm this thread with them all at once.

 

The Teaching of Buddha by [Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai]

Edited by Grim_Aeonian
Added book cover image of quote source.
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dalinar's transformation does have something of a narrative parallel with Ashoka...

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not familiar with that particular storyline, but thank you for the reference.  I will have to look it up.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, Grim_Aeonian said:

I am not familiar with that particular storyline, but thank you for the reference.  I will have to look it up.

Thank you, it also fits with Vasher's backstory actually.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really need to reread Warbreaker.  I feel like that is the Cosmere series I have the least solid grasp on exactly what ideology is at the core there.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Grim_Aeonian said:

I really need to reread Warbreaker.  I feel like that is the Cosmere series I have the least solid grasp on exactly what ideology is at the core there.

 It's only suggestion now but perhaps something along the idea of forgiveness in christianity? I do think there is a theme going on with Vienna judging others for what she perceives as a sin and with Vashers past.

 Interfaith dialogue is another possibility.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Roshar seems to have been influenced by numerous religions:
Jewish mysticism: as pointed above, supported by multiple WoBs
Buddhism: spren are essentially based on quantum mechanics and some authors (e.g. F. Capra in “The Tao of Physics”) see parallels between it and Eastern religions. You can see spren through either modern physics or Buddhism lenses, both seem to be valid
Manichaeism: in Vorinism, the Voidbringers are seen as counterparts to the Almighty, balancing his goodness
Islam: I can definitely see some similarities between Dalinar and Muhammad. Both are conquerors who unified their lands as well as spiritual leaders/reformers. Both are initially distressed by their visions  and later helped by their wives. Both seek a true God with high emphasis on Oneness/Unity. Also, the geopolitical situation is kind of similar in both cases. Before Muhammad, the Arabian tribes were divided into two main coalitions used as proxies in wars between regional powers (Byzantium and Persia). They were united only after decades of wars between said powers resulted in complete desolation of their lands. I think a similar scenario for humans and singers is quite likely

As for other Shardworlds, Shards and groups:
Scadrial: Judeo-Christian style monotheism, with some potential deistic tendencies developing in Harmony
Sel: monotheism possibly evolving towards some kind of pantheistic Gaia scenario (based on Khriss remarks in Arcanum Unbounded)
Nalthis: Monolatry/henotheism on a Shardic level – Endowment is the only Shard on a planet, but given how easy worldhopping is there I would assume at least some people are aware of other Shards. The  Court of Gods is textbook classical antiquity polytheism  
Threnody: borrows some elements from Gnosticism, which is based on a distinction between a supreme, transcendent God (God Beyond) and a blind, evil demiurge responsible for creating the material universe (Shards and, by extension, Adonalsium), trapping the divine spark within matter (the Shades)
Bavadin: as a whole (avatars + whole pantheons based on her), she provides a very interesting take on polytheism
The Ire: transhumanism, they try to attain godhood using technological means

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, KandraAllomancer said:

Threnody: borrows some elements from Gnosticism, which is based on a distinction between a supreme, transcendent God (God Beyond) and a blind, evil demiurge responsible for creating the material universe (Shards and, by extension, Adonalsium), trapping the divine spark within matter (the Shades)

The simple rules are however based on Jewish sabbath rules and the planet also has more involved their(Brandon's threnody WoBs).

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, KandraAllomancer said:

Roshar seems to have been influenced by numerous religions:
Jewish mysticism: as pointed above, supported by multiple WoBs
Buddhism: spren are essentially based on quantum mechanics and some authors (e.g. F. Capra in “The Tao of Physics”) see parallels between it and Eastern religions. You can see spren through either modern physics or Buddhism lenses, both seem to be valid
Manichaeism: in Vorinism, the Voidbringers are seen as counterparts to the Almighty, balancing his goodness
Islam: I can definitely see some similarities between Dalinar and Muhammad. Both are conquerors who unified their lands as well as spiritual leaders/reformers. Both are initially distressed by their visions  and later helped by their wives. Both seek a true God with high emphasis on Oneness/Unity. Also, the geopolitical situation is kind of similar in both cases. Before Muhammad, the Arabian tribes were divided into two main coalitions used as proxies in wars between regional powers (Byzantium and Persia). They were united only after decades of wars between said powers resulted in complete desolation of their lands. I think a similar scenario for humans and singers is quite likely

As for other Shardworlds, Shards and groups:
Scadrial: Judeo-Christian style monotheism, with some potential deistic tendencies developing in Harmony
Sel: monotheism possibly evolving towards some kind of pantheistic Gaia scenario (based on Khriss remarks in Arcanum Unbounded)
Nalthis: Monolatry/henotheism on a Shardic level – Endowment is the only Shard on a planet, but given how easy worldhopping is there I would assume at least some people are aware of other Shards. The  Court of Gods is textbook classical antiquity polytheism  
Threnody: borrows some elements from Gnosticism, which is based on a distinction between a supreme, transcendent God (God Beyond) and a blind, evil demiurge responsible for creating the material universe (Shards and, by extension, Adonalsium), trapping the divine spark within matter (the Shades)
Bavadin: as a whole (avatars + whole pantheons based on her), she provides a very interesting take on polytheism
The Ire: transhumanism, they try to attain godhood using technological means

Wow, great rundown!  I really appreciate the thought put into this.  I was working for a LOOONNNGG time with just me, myself, and the core books, so it's still really amazing to me, being able to have learned interactions with other people on this topic.

I'll definitely add more after work tonight but my thoughts on this subject are that although many of the details, magic systems, and other aspects are, of course, going to be drawn from all different aspects of Brandon's interests and areas of knowledge, I believe that each world is still going to be at its core focused on the exploration of one particular form or branch of ideology.

Scadrial: I agree with you completely here on Judeo-Christianity being the core ideology.  I realize that this is perhaps the most obvious of them.  From the brutal, often seemingly intentionally cruel or malicious god of the Old Testament/Torah that the Final Empire itself presents itself to us as.  To the very clear resurrection/messianism perpetrated by Kelsier.  To the direct allegory of the Survivor's actual resurrection and previously unknown journey to the New World where he preaches to the natives of that land, which so blatantly mirrors LDS teachings.

Sel: I read this one more as being focused on the concept of Nationalism/Patriotism as the core ideology.  This may not actually be a religion, but for many people there is little difference between their feelings for their nation and a religious ideology.  Elantris is literally depicted as a "Shining city on a hill" of sorts, that anyone can become a citizen of as long as they think of themselves as belonging there and that is being made dysfunctional by failure to address a chasm (political strife allegory?) and is in danger from religion being too deeply involved in politics.  The other magic systems on Sel, I expect will demonstrate differences in line with the political ideologies they themselves represent.

Roshar: While it may seem that this one gets a bit fuzzier than most of the others, something that is essentially inevitable, given its scope and volume of pages, I still feel that it has a consistent and singular core.  This is perhaps most clearly represented by the fact that the entire series is centered around an endless cycle of death and rebirth, but there are many, many more reasons to arrive at this conclusion.  I will add more tonight when I have my notes in front of me (and am not at work) but I just wanted to jot these thoughts down while they were fresh.

Yup, my CEO just walked in while I was finishing this up, so... time to go.  :)  I just want to say though, I am so excited to be discussing this with learned and interested people.  Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The entire Cosmere is full of Christian and LDS themes: from nature of god as an extraterrestrial being to the potential of mankind (ascension), which is similar to the Buddhist concept of attaining Bodhisattva, and the problem of evil (on Scadrial and Roshar, possibly also Sel). There's also the theme of sacrifice (with the Heralds).

Edited by Honorless
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 28.11.2019 at 0:12 AM, Grim_Aeonian said:

I'll definitely add more after work tonight but my thoughts on this subject are that although many of the details, magic systems, and other aspects are, of course, going to be drawn from all different aspects of Brandon's interests and areas of knowledge, I believe that each world is still going to be at its core focused on the exploration of one particular form or branch of ideology.

Buddhism was just confirmed to be at the core of Roshar philosophy:

Quote

Questioner

What philosophies do you feel like inspired you the most? Philosophies, or mysticisms, religions?

Brandon Sanderson

I like a lot of different things. You'll see a lot of things in Way of Kings of Pantheism. You see all the old Greek dudes. You'll see some Cartesian stuff. It's kind of everything. You'll see a lot of Shinto. Yeah, probably the most has been Shinto or actually more of the kind of Buddhist and Jainism sort of idea. 

Questioner

You know, Taravangian I feel like is embodiment of compassion versus seeing the world for what it really is. 

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Right. And then there's the whole Utilitarianism versus altruism and I just find all of that stuff fascinating. I don't know if there's any one. Shinto, that idea of animism, the idea of everything having a soul, is probably... Yeah.

Starsight Release Party (Nov. 26, 2019)

Congratulations :)

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, KandraAllomancer said:

Buddhism was just confirmed to be at the core of Roshar philosophy:

Quote

Questioner

What philosophies do you feel like inspired you the most? Philosophies, or mysticisms, religions?

Brandon Sanderson

I like a lot of different things. You'll see a lot of things in Way of Kings of Pantheism. You see all the old Greek dudes. You'll see some Cartesian stuff. It's kind of everything. You'll see a lot of Shinto. Yeah, probably the most has been Shinto or actually more of the kind of Buddhist and Jainism sort of idea. 

Questioner

You know, Taravangian I feel like is embodiment of compassion versus seeing the world for what it really is. 

Brandon Sanderson

Yeah. Right. And then there's the whole Utilitarianism versus altruism and I just find all of that stuff fascinating. I don't know if there's any one. Shinto, that idea of animism, the idea of everything having a soul, is probably... Yeah.

Starsight Release Party (Nov. 26, 2019)

Congratulations :)

Wow!

Thank you so much.

Feels kind of weird. I've had numerous people ask me if I was just being crazy, or maybe reading too much into these books because of how obsessed I was.

Also, I realize now that I didn't enter stuff from my notes, as I said I would. Been dealing with kind of a big thing at work and haven't had time, but definitely still will do this.

Thank you again for the wonderful post, Kandra.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.