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  • hardie karges 12:33 pm on October 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Life is a Pre-existing Condition… 

    Death comes included with each package. One day will be a good day to die, but today is not the day, maybe tomorrow, maybe not. There is no rush. These things take time…

     
  • hardie karges 12:04 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , bicameralism, , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism and the Bicameral Mind: License or Liberation? 

    True freedom is not license. True freedom is liberation. And if that at first glance sounds like some little word game that a poor man’s Alan Watts might play, on further notice, in fact it reveals a fundamental difference between ‘mind-sets,’ if not belief systems. For it is more than just the difference in a couple of letters that define the difference between the words ‘from’ and ‘to.’ It is indeed a world of difference, not just the difference between East and West, Buddhism and Christianity, but possibly—and ultimately—the difference between the right and left sides of the brain.

    According to the American Psychological Association: “The terms “left-brained” and “right-brained” have come to refer to personality types in popular culture, with an assumption that people who use the right side of their brains more are more creative, thoughtful and subjective, while those who tap the left side more are more logical, detail-oriented and analytical.”

    And then they go on to pooh-pooh that notion while at the same time admitting that “Language tends to be on the left, attention more on the right.” So how would you know, anyway, whether a person is one or the other? This is the big clue: Right-brained people are left-handed and vice versa. Boom. Hopefully those of us who are ambidextrous, Geminis, or at least switch-hitters can maybe find work as a Jack-of-all-trades, if not a Jill-of-one-special-one.

    But the point is that we’re talking about two different kinds of freedom when we talk about the freedom ‘from’ as opposed to the freedom ‘to’. The one is liberation, while the other is license. One is the traditional goal of all Eastern philosophy, while the other is the traditional goal of all Western philosophy. One allows you to gloriously do nothing, since you are now free of those prior obligations that demanded something of you.

    The other implies that you really should do something, regardless, not just that you have the right to, but in fact almost an obligation to act upon Nature, rather than just passively accept it. One is Buddhist, while the other is Christianity, which thought has largely dominated the modern world of technology and skyscrapers and restless hearts and minds.

    But now we know definitively, by genome analysis, that those early Indian Buddhists and those early Roman Christians were in fact not-so-distant cousins of the same original fathers, if not mothers. And both had their dealings with Greeks, bearing gifts or not. Does that mean that indeed these are possibly the differences of left-brain and right-brain, according to two different given sets of circumstances?

    If so, then we can access our right-brain Buddhist feminine capabilities to undo the damage that our left-brain Christian Capitalist macho tendencies have foisted upon us, understandable given a young world feeling its teenage oats for the first time, my version of racehorse theory. Nirvana is freedom. Freedom has responsibilities. So now we have come full circle…

     
    • TheFlowIntoWords 1:33 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting topic! I loved Julian Jaynes book “Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind”.

      From my limited understanding, I see Buddhism as opening our eyes to the freedom we have from the “need” to do anything. This gives us a grasp of free-will. No longer is it I “must”/“need” to do X.

      For me Christianity sort of stepped into that newly opened space. Jesus’s teachings on radical love are beautiful to me. They are helping me see the beauty I “want” to grow and nourish in myself, others, and the world. I no longer feel I need to or should be doing anything in particular. I feel I am finally free to see the deep beauty of everything. And free to follow what the beauty inspires within me because I want to.

      • hardie karges 1:47 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, I read Jaynes’ book way back when, and liked it, though this scrib is a different take, of course. Life and the world are beautiful, per Jesus, but they are suffering, per the Buddha. Who is right? They both are, I suppose, though we will all die, no eternal life, so I am Buddhist, not Christian. But I like the dialectic between the two, so utilize it often. Christianity was right for its time. Buddhism is right for these times IMHO. Christianity’s capitalist conquest mentality gives us global warming, so that is not sustainable. Eventually I think we will achieve a successful mix of the two, hopefully without another pandemic. Thanks for your comments…

        • TheFlowIntoWords 2:40 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink

          I also suspect we will achieve a successful mix of the two one day. Both have such deep wisdom to offer.

        • hardie karges 2:41 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink

          Yes, I agree…

    • Dylan Raines 11:01 pm on October 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Wonderful thoughts. I see true freedom as being something which produces the qualities of compassion, generosity, contentment, peace, etc. The freedom simply to do anything without consequence is a freedom that usually has some fear attached with it. I think the more we allow people to be free, letting go of attempting to control others, the more we capable of encouraging one another to move into a place of true freedom.

      • hardie karges 8:38 am on October 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Sounds good to me. Thanks for your comments…

  • hardie karges 12:41 pm on October 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    I don’t mind so much being the object of your anger, as long as I am not the cause of it. I can always walk away…

     
  • hardie karges 12:12 pm on October 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Aramaic, , Brahmi, , Devanagari, Dorian, Kharosthi, , , rishis, Spartan, sramanas   

    Buddhism, Racism, and the Middle Path of History… 

    The purpose of knowledge is to ease suffering, not to lord it over others. When knowledge becomes a tool, then we have a problem that we need to deal with. And we do—have a problem that we need to deal with. You can call it racism, or nationalism, or simply false pride, but there it is, the fact that some people think that they are better than others, and intend to enforce that distinction, while providing sometimes elaborate proofs for its justification.

    More often than not, though, the self-described cognoscenti think they can simply look at someone and deep secrets are somehow revealed, as a flight hostess once explained to me that they are taught to simply look at someone and know what language they speak. Must be nice. But it’s not. It’s cheating, cheating life, and cheating oneself.

    I wondered for a long time, still do, why the Brahmin class of India refused to use written language, long long long, 1000 years, after their counterparts elsewhere were scribbling, scribing, and describing events in the Semitic alphabets that would become the world standard everywhere, except China, Korea, and related countries.

    Meanwhile those Aryans-become-Brahmins only reluctantly acquiesced to allow their divine sacred Sanskrit to be submitted to the little graphs and symbols that constitute written language. They gave many rishis and sramanas their lay-off notices, too, since their services would no longer be required to painstakingly memorize the sacred Vedas, arguably one of the finest pieces of literature ever composed—composed, mind you, but not written.

    That only occurred with the invention of the Devanagari alphabet in the first half of the first millennium CE, and in full use by the 7th century. Until then they had to make do with the rustic Brahmi alphabet, which only came into existence in the last half of the first millennium BCE. By then the Buddhist monkhood was well established, and not subject to the vicissitudes of language.

    King Ashoka at around year 250 BCE used not only Brahmi and Kharosthi, modeled on Aramaic, but Greek and Aramaic itself to inscribe his famous inscriptions—in rock. Still the question remains: why the 1000-year wait? The clue finally came with the example of their long-lost cousins and like-minded Dorians of ancient Greece.

    In the process of becoming the legendary hard-ass Spartans of history, they enslaved many a Minoan along the way, and—drum roll here, please—deliberately denied them education, much like the even-more-distant Mississippi rednecks did to their slaves (author’s note: I’m from Mississippi, but hopefully not redneck). Bingo! It all makes sense now.

    The Brahmin-dominated caste system of Indian depends on holding their ‘lessers’ down (notably darker-skinned and of other origins, well-documented by y-DNA), by denying them the education which preserves Brahmin power. Buddhism rejected all that, though they were still long subject to its ramifications. Despite the current political turmoil, still life is better than it once was, and the message is clear. You can learn from the Buddha or you can learn from a virus. The message is largely the same: Do no harm…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 12:09 pm on October 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting history here! Knowledge is power, they say, which must be why the priest-caste lay claim to exclusive possession of it. Any good teacher knows, however, that guiding learners to seeing something for (and within) themselves is the correct way.

    • hardie karges 1:13 pm on October 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, well put. Thanks for your comments…

  • hardie karges 11:49 am on October 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism and Christianity Occupy Different Realms of the World and Mind.. 

    The best religions unite us. The worst religions divide us. Most do nothing at all—except give a momentary feeling of satisfaction, at a job well done, vindication for following a path, any path, and somehow defining one’s life in the process, even if the changes are subtle.

    We can snicker now at the circumstances surrounding the split between the universal Catholic church of Rome, as it splintered into a thousand Protestant denominations—names—as if, ‘What’s the big deal?’ But at the time it was a very big deal, even if the results and ramifications would not be known for a century or two, just like Athens and Rome before it, and those are the lessons, contained in the names, as each country tries to personify itself in the religion of its choice.

    But one of my favorite themes is that at its origins and Sunday best, a religion should try to change you into something better, so not necessarily what you want to be, but what you should be, as determined by the high priests of your subconscious. But I’m not sure that works. Has Christianity made Europe and America less violent and aggressive? Good question. Has Buddhism made Asia less possessive and grasping? I’m not sure.

    What I am pretty sure of, though, is that it makes us feel better, if only for a day, week, month, or year, and serves as a constant reminder of what we should be doing, even if we fall so unfailingly flat so often. But if our feelings of guilt once pushed us toward religions that chastised us for our failings, now we tend to gravitate toward those that make us feel good in spite of them, best not to even mention them, lest someone should feel a twinge of regret for not doing better.

    So at the same time that we now feel less guilty, our societies and families continue in a downward spiral, those who can’t be bothered to improve themselves, at the cost of a moment’s self-sacrifice. And that is a shame, because instant gratification is a cheap trick at best, and a descent into the abyss at worst. And as it is with Christianity, so it is with Buddhism, and other Eastern religions.

    Buddhism often gets written up as the export version of Hinduism, and if I can’t really agree with that, there is certainly some circumstantial evidence to support it. What is acknowledged less often is the contribution of the resident Jains, who, at the time of the Buddha, were the inspiration of much of the religious seeking, defining and refining that was going on in India at the time of the Buddha, around the mid-millennium before the time of Christ.

    And the same splintering occurred with Buddhism, Hinduism only spared the process, because it was never a doctrine in the first place, and maybe that’s why it was never suitable for export. Ask an Indian. Given sufficient time and circumstances, I think that all religions, despite best original intentions, will devolve into devotion, pure and simple.

    Is that what it takes to unite us? If so, then I suppose the only question is: to what are we devoted? Take your pick. When the world is too cold, warm it with your heart. When the world is too cruel, make it kinder. When you are weary, sleep…

     
  • hardie karges 11:08 am on September 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , anapanasati, Bhavana, Chan, , jhana, , , samatha, ,   

    Meditation and Mediation, Buddhism on the Half-Shell… 

    The best meditation requires no app. Only silence can solve the problems caused by language. Not that I don’t find ‘guided meditations’ interesting, I just don’t think that they are the best form of meditation.

    Not that there need be many forms of meditation in the first place, but that comes with the turf, the modern commercial turf, that just one more thing under the tree will get us through the next year with flying colors, the colors of Christmas and New Year in joy and celebration of what I am not sure, but it seems that abundance is the common theme, my cup running over and all that jazz, eternal life and all that rap.

    But is the ‘special insight’ of ‘vipassana’ really some sort of qualitative improvement over the ‘awareness of breathing’ in anapanasati? Is there really any difference between the ‘calm abiding’ of ‘samatha’ and the ‘concentration’ of ‘samadhi’?

    Self-described experts go on and on about the ‘four different kinds’ of meditation like bloggers slicing and dicing adverbs and artichokes for the special garnish to Sunday brunch, to be ladled over with the special sauce of ‘mindfulness.’

    Then there is the ‘mental development’ of bhavana holding lengthy sessions, while the ‘trance-like states’ of ‘dhyana’ and ‘jhana’ morph into entire schools of Chinese Chan and Japanese Zen, so that entire cultures can be exported overseas a millennium later, and Alan Watts can make a living without ever having to plant rice, much less harvest it.

    So I suppose that there is a difference between a ‘one-focus’ meditation and a ‘field-focus’ meditation, but I’m really not sure, if the underlying concentration is upon the breath, or if you’ve got a really quiet place, then worth noticing the heartbeat, which our ears normally block out as background noise.

    But there seems to be a more significant distinction between meditation ‘upon’ something and meditation for meditation’s own sake. And this is where guided meditation comes in, because it is certainly a meditation upon something, if it is meditation at all.

    And I’m not sure who started this, because I have practiced the art in formal and semi-formal settings in three SE Asian countries, all of the Theravada school of Buddhism, and I can assure you that there was no bloke holding forth at the time. But I do see this online with monks of the Tibetan school, and saw it myself with a Western ex-monk of the same school in Nepal. So which is better, guided or silent?

    That I can’t say, but when I discussed all this with research neurologists interested in measuring the effects of meditation on the brain, all they wanted to know was, “Were you able to stop the internal dialogue?” To which I giddily responded something like, “Yes.” To which they responded with a dubious, “Do you understand this concept?” “Of course. That’s all I remember of Don Juan’s ‘Tales of Yaqui Power.”

    Guided meditation won’t do that, so you still need silent meditation IMHO. But to be a good Buddhist, more important than the sutras, the precepts, and all the meditations are the simple acts of kindness and compassion, ‘metta karuna’…

     
  • hardie karges 6:00 pm on September 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Covid-19 Update: Kudos to the Buddha? 

    Coronavirus under a microscope

    https://ncov2019.live

    Covid-19, aka ‘novel Coronavirus:’ the phrase strikes fear in the hearts of the smartest, and derision in the minds of the not-so, Trumpsters et al adamantly wishing it away, as though that were all that is necessary to defeat a Conspiracy Theory that just can’t find the exit and leave, no matter how hard the combined wits of the Republican Party try… and try… and try.

    But the reality is all too sobering, as we stand at another important crossroads, and possibly wrapping up a dizzying Phase Two, for which there will likely be a Phase Three when the winter kicks in, potential vaccines notwithstanding. The figures are mind-numbing: world leader USA just passed the threshold 200K deaths from Covid-19 and 7M confirmed cases, all while President Trump dodges any responsibility for it, at the same time that he admits that he lied about it all along—and still does.

    (More …)
     
  • hardie karges 11:51 am on September 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , nidanas, past lives,   

    The Buddhist doctrine of Dependent Arising reconsidered… 

    Everything is a cause. Everything is an effect. We are in the middle. Find happiness there. And I think that this is very close to the original intention of the Buddhist doctrine of Dependent Arising, that there are strict causal connections between events and their aftermaths, even if the connections are maybe not as precise as some may imagine.

    Formally known in Sanskrit as प्रतीत्यसमुत्पाद pratītyasamutpāda or in Pali (the related Theravada canonical language as पटिच्चसमुप्पाद paṭiccasamuppāda, it simply means: “if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist”. Which is all well and good, as far as it goes, whether you take the doctrine as an ontological principle, on the subject of being, or as an epistemological principle, on the subject of knowledge.

    The problem arises (pun intended) when we get down to the twelve links (nidanas), which supposedly articulate this process, basically: 1) ignorance (tabula rasa?), 2) mental formations (first mental activity?), 3) consciousness (of baby-self?), 4) name-and-form (language?), 5) six senses (as distinguished from each other and mind?), 6) contact (look, listen, touch?), 7) sensation (see, hear, feel?), 8) craving, 9) clinging, 10) becoming (ch-ch-changes?), 11) birth (of a higher consciousness?), and 12) aging and death (all question marks indicate my tentative interpretations).

    The problem is that the ‘rebirthers’ (my term and slightly riffing on Trump), have long since appropriated the whole concept as justification for the predetermination and ‘multiple feedback loops’ of karma, that they find necessary to lock one into a system that rewards and punishes with future retribution and prevents the possibility of suicide as a convenient ‘one way out.’

    This notwithstanding the fact that the whole concept apparently predates Buddhism and manifested in various forms before its final version which has become the standard. But ancient terms are always subject to re-interpretation, a current fashion among pseudo-sorta-Buddhas, and of course—shazam and voila! That changes everything. Or does it?

    So I’ve always enthusiastically accepted the general concept, while remaining agnostic on the particulars as if the excessive list-making of wannabe Abhidharmists and johnny-come-lately bloggers, and left it right there unfinished, since modern physics could hardly support a version of empirical reality so obviously simplistic. But a science of mind might. And since psychology is not a science of mind, now, but a science of behavior, then the filed is wide open for speculation.

    The main problem is the first half, the interpretations of which vary widely, as evidenced from the Wikipedia source material. But I see this as a child opening his eyes for the first time and discovering the world, ‘giving names to all the animals,’ (thanks, Bob) etc., and then finally realizing that he is not only an actor on a new stage, but also a toucher, feeler, craver, clinger, thinker, and hopeful bodhisattva—all before he or she has even had his or her first romance (when it really kicks in)!

    Everything else comes after and comprises the final item in the list of mutual dependences. And only in this way do the twelve links make sense to me, though I doubt that the ‘rebirthers’ will buy it. What do you think? Birth is a product of Nature. Rebirth is a product of imagination. I try to do re-invent myself every day…

    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pratityasamutpada

     
  • hardie karges 11:34 am on September 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Gandhi, homo sapiens, , Mahatma, , Protestant,   

    Buddhism is Found in the Beauty of Silence… 

    Sometimes silence can accomplish more than violence, and that’s something that Mahatma Gandhi knew, but which most modern protesters seem to have forgotten, when they parade that smug self-assertion that assumes that more chaos is better than less, while innocent victims die unattended and children see their lives suspended.

    This is the problem, not the solution, that we all need to take the bait, and excite the crowds, when just the opposite is truest: when silence prevails, the world is a better place, and we are all more equal. And this is not limited to manipulation of the Anglo-Saxon guilt complex, which Gandhi did so expertly, though that might be where it works best, there and in the surrounding Indo-European community, which has long been indoctrinated with Christianity and the doctrine of forgiveness.

    But it should work elsewhere, too, though perhaps with lesser results, especially where materialist doctrines have gained supremacy, arguably the difference between socialism and communism, that rejection of all ethics and most morality, in total deference to the party and the race.

    But Tibetan monks don’t practice self-immolation to hear the crowds cheering at Wimbledon or the Kentucky Derby. They do it because they want to send a message and because they can, where other avenues of ex-pression are limited, and where memories are long, even if time is short. Buddhists are disciplined if nothing else, witness the current pandemic results.

    And so it can be for all of us. Protestants were once protesters. Passion was once suffering. Our species arose from something that preceded it, and only caught fire with the invention of language. And that is where we stand today, at the crossroads of history, between the forces of good and evil which correspond roughly to the hemispheres of our brains.

    Thus a dialectic and discourse is built right in to our system of consciousness, and language is powerless to prevent it, since language is largely what created it. In the beginning was the Word, and in the end the meek will supposedly inherit the earth, and everything else is for us to figure out, and let the history books sort it out.

    Scientists call us homo sapiens, wise person, but that is probably far too generous, because we are in no position to judge ourselves, not from the long view of history, but only from the short view of a human lifetime. The most we can truly claim for ourselves is language, so homo linguarum, and for better or worse, that is our fate, to yak it up, even when silence is sometimes far better.

    And that is one thing I have learned in Buddhism, if nothing else, in one word: silence. That is the sound of meditation. That is the sound of Emptiness. Language is the best and worst human invention. Use it wisely…

     
  • hardie karges 1:03 pm on September 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Virtual Reality   

    Buddhism and the Balancing Act of Excellence… 

    Violence solves nothing. It only creates more violence. We all know it, yet still we do it, reveling in our passions and bathing all awash in our emotions unapologetic, for this is what we are taught from day one, in the wild wild west, to be passionate about what we do, and anything less is ‘middling…’

    Yet middling is part and parcel of Buddhism and its Middle Path, the avoidance of excess and its extremes, in favor of the boredom of ‘middle-ness.’ From this viewpoint happiness is as often as not the avoidance of sadness, and bliss might very well be suspect for its dalliance with extreme emotion…

    Does this attitude build great cities? Does this attitude conquer continents, and send rockets to the moon? No it probably doesn’t, and we are probably better off because of it. Because neither does it commit genocides, enslave peoples, or cause global warming, and it can produce great art…

    Has your life really improved with the invention of Roombas to Hoover your floors? Do you really need four hundred channels of mediocre programming on the idiot box to satisfy your palate? And before you point out to me that I seem to be championing mediocrity as the Middle Way between lack and excess, I wish to point out that excellence is not a threat to anyone’s existence in the same way that luxury and self-starvation are, which is the original inspiration to the Buddha’s awakening…

    The Middle Path itself is nothing if not excellent. Do you think that it is easy finding that meandering sweet spot between extremes? It’s not. It’s an exquisite, but not excruciating, balancing act. And balance is crucial to the equation. Is it even possible for an equation to not be balanced? Of course not…

    Yet our lives in the 21st century are far from being balanced. We worship the gods of technological salvation, but we are never saved. We are only further addicted to our own existential cravings. Now I love science, and technology, i.e. applied science, but I don’t really need a self-driving car. I need a city that doesn’t’ require automobiles…

    Internet is sublime, and Virtual Reality is transcendent, but what else do we need? Interstellar exploration is wonderful, but you don’t need rockets for that, just better telescopes. Our cities are sh*t-stained pits and our lives wallow in the mire, accordingly. Nature, and dharma, can, and should be, a refuge, on a good day. Cities and technology? Meh, not so much…

     
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