dharmagoat wrote: This division into groups within a society and ranking them in terms of their inferiority vs. superiority needs to be avoided, especially among those proclaiming to be Buddhist.
There really is no need to think in these terms.
Though not because those terms are untrue. Historically, however, it's clear that those who believe themselves to be superior tend to exploit and persecute those they believe to be inferior, while those who believe themselves to be inferior tend to abuse themselves and others while taking out their resentment on those they see as superior, so there's atleast a utilitarian case for an alternative perspective.
In terms of the actual truth, then, from a relative theoretical point of view, any being is either inferior or superior (and not both or neither etc.) to any other being because each configuration of skandhas is just a mechanism
that is either simpler or more complex, less developed or more developed, less effective or more effective, less adapted or more adapted. From an ultimate point of view, cockroaches, saints, sociopaths and Buddhas are all equal, because they are all instances of the natural actualisation of the infinite space of possibility that we call emptiness, however partial that actualisation may appear conventionally.
jeeprs wrote: Hey it isn't an attempt to 'rank individuals' at all. It is more an attempt to create a model which accounts for the disparities between different levels and types of consciousness. As to whether society has improved in regards to this question, it seems to me that understanding and dealing with mental health issues is still an enormous problem in affluent societies.
Most attempts to rank individuals either ignored or reversed the relationship between rank and levels of consciousness. I never heard of Hitler encouraging sensitivity among his followers - quite the reverse in fact!
Mental health issues may be related to the scope that conditions allow for consciousness to 'come into its own' (rather than being clouded by drudgery), but without a sense of permanent Self to enhance and protect as conditions became more amenable to it, would there be any sense in developing mental illness?