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  • hardie karges 11:32 am on April 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Buddhism and the Limits of Freedom… 

    Self-control is a valuable tool, a wonderful trait, and a noble quality. But control of others? Not so much. And this is a sticking point for many Western Buddhists, who cringe at the thought of any sort of control, it being anathema to the Western traditions of freedom and democracy, however ill-conceived and ill-defined. This obsession with freedom arose in response to the tyranny of rulers, so that is the sordid background upon which our story must unfold. It is also the justification for many a disproportionate response which must then invite further repercussions, in an almost endless back-and-forth see-saw of emotions and cataclysms which define the modern history of humankind.

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  • hardie karges 12:24 pm on April 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Buddhism on the Half Shell, Pick and Choose 

    Buddhism in the North Country is different from the South

    Make the world a better place for humans and other sentient beings. That is the battle charge of the Bodhisattva, the ‘awakened being’ who sacrifices the present moment of his own bliss for the future happiness of the many in waiting. And this is the difference, of course, between the Buddhism of the Elders, Theravada, and the larger vehicle, Mahayana, which supposedly looks beyond the narrow conflicted self and delays enlightenment so that we all can enter the realm of Buddhahood together.

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  • hardie karges 12:00 pm on April 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Bi-polar No-lock Pandemic Sutra… 

    Once upon a time there were only two continents in the World, East and West. They were similar in many ways, but the way in which they were most different were their ways of thinking, especially abstract thinking. For instance, the West saw the world and life as something that should be full to overflowing, with everything, of course, apparently related to their belief in limitlessness, infinity, eternity, depending on the context, and most eloquently: Abundance, as the norm. The East, on the other hand, saw Emptiness as the norm, with profound acceptance of limitations, that were at one and the same time as beautiful as they were comforting, as reassuring as they were defining.

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  • hardie karges 11:29 am on March 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Big-A$$ Half-Ripe Avocado Sutra 

    Better It’s Cracked than My Head

    The fruit that hangs from a tree has inspired many memes and metaphors, with regard to its beauty and irony, but the main conundrums remain: How do I know that it will taste good, and how do I get it into my mouth? And these questions define much of the nature of human existence, i.e. desire, fulfillment, and the middle path in between. And then sometimes the answers almost smack you in the face, quite literally. Like when I was strolling through a certain Central American outdoor market recently, when suddenly I see and feel a definite WHOOSH, which was then quickly followed by a definitive WHUMP! It was enough to stop me in my tracks, to say the least. It seems that a rather large avocado has just fallen from the branch of a tree overhead, barely missing my head, and crashing onto the rocky path below, no harm no foul…

    But it could have been otherwise. Because it wasn’t a tiny overripe fruit, past its prime and ready to sprout seed for some future ancestral father figure. No, this was young—and hard, and unthinking, just like we all once were, and it could have really hurt. But it didn’t, because it missed me by inches. Or did I miss it? No matter. No one claimed it, so I did, and ate the soft parts with pleasure. But the hard parts refused to yield, not even to heat. And so we parted company, but the lessons remain: the fine line between pleasure and pain defined by mere inches on a scale of miles. The same object falling from the sky can nourish or cause damage. Life is short, and the dangers are real: live it fully but cautiously. And so every object in life can offer a lesson, if only we are open to it. Like the Buddhist middle path, we tiptoe lightly through a mine field of obstacles, mostly within our own minds…

     
  • hardie karges 1:09 pm on March 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Goodbye Corona, Hello Global Warming, Dark Age Optional… 

    Proof of Vaccination

    I got my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine against the Covid-19 virus today, so I guess that now is as good a time as any to put the finishing touches on this pandemic. Yes, I know that it’s not over and could go on at least another year or more, but for me, this is a defining point, and so I think I hear the fat lady singing. And I say that with a twinge of sadness, because for me it’s been a good year, not in material acquisitions, but in spiritual gain. Because the times of greatest stress and suffering often coincide with the greatest spiritual gains. This is as obvious in Jesus’s eschatological emergence as the Roman Empire entered its down days, as it was in the Buddha’s times, with the emergence of India’s and China’s rise as the two dominant centers of world population, a position that they maintain to this day.

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    • Dave Kingsbury 4:17 pm on March 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      First, congratulations on receiving the double dose – each successful step something we can all celebrate. Second, can’t fault your analysis of the recent past nor your prognosis for the near future. Third, you outline new ways of thinking and responding which are also – satisfyingly – a return to older wisdoms. Vive l’humanite!

      • hardie karges 5:03 pm on March 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply

        Hear hear! Thanx for your comments, Dave…

  • hardie karges 11:32 am on March 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Evil,   

    Buddhism and Evil, Parenthetically… 

    There is no evil in this world but that which exists in the hearts and minds of some misguided individuals. Evil is not an entity, existing independently and harvesting souls for current and future consumption. Evil is merely a function of circumstance, born of uncertain causes and subject to uncertain conditions. To remove evil from the world is to purify your own heart first, metaphorically speaking, and then proceed to spread the goodwill to others. If critical mass can be reached, pardon the cliché, then peace can prevail. It’s like reaching herd immunity in a pandemic. Not everyone has to get vaccinated, thank God, or we could never protect ourselves even the slightest little bit.

    This is the curse of democracy, of course, trying to get a large group of people to agree on anything, much less everything. Fortunately there is a hidden democracy, of the soul, so to speak, in which people want the best for themselves and the world, regardless of the cost and sacrifice. If enough of those people can meet and commune with each other, then the world can become a better place, and ultimately find sustainability. But it requires the most serious sort of open mind and the most diligent kind of experimental effort. Sometimes we learn our best lessons from our worst enemies, seasoned and flavored with experience. This is much the essence of Buddhism…

     
  • hardie karges 12:15 pm on March 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: AA, arahant, , , dimension, Fake Buddha Quotes, , , Murakami, passive voice   

    Buddhism Redefined: Suffering is inevitable. Pain is optional… 

    Or so I say. Read carefully. That’s not the famous quote, of course, and in fact, it is almost a refutation of the original quote, which goes something like: “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”—but not quite, a refutation, that is. Because anything worth saying is certainly not worth refuting, even if it is almost the opposite of what is being asserted. And what is being asserted, in most cases of this quote, is that this is a quote from the Buddha, which it is almost certainly not. But this illustrates how fervently Americans want Buddhism to agree with Western psychology, if not religion.

    And as proof of the falsity I send you to the well-known and superlative website Fake Buddha Quotes, which goes into the origin at some depth and with much commentary. Here’s a hint: It also likely predates the usual retort that it is from Haruki Murakami, and may even derive from the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step playbook, which is apparently full of such zingers, even the one about “drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick,” haha. Hey, it’s not easy coming up with pithy quotes every day! Just ask any self-styled guru on any FB self-help group.

    But the expert is also of the opinion that it is ‘congruent’ with Buddhism, which is probably a vague enough way to phrase it, in form and substance, given its geometry connection, that he may very well be right, somehow some way, as long as he is not explicitly saying that it is foundational to Buddhism. Regardless, I would be of much less the same opinion, and categorically assert that my reversal of the quote is much closer to the foundations of Buddhism, in which the Buddha categorically asserts that suffering exists, no mention of options, unless you want to jump to the conclusion that removal of the causes is a viable option.

    Which is true, if you have the training of an arahant or Bodhisattva, which very few of us do, even on a good day. So I would assert that my reversal of the famous quote is more correct than the original, from a Buddhist perspective, which it may or may not ultimately be, but that’s my take. So in this thought experiment, suffering is something of a dimension, our dimension, of primarily mechanical waves, not light, which appears to us as an overwhelming force, or a higher dimension, and gravity, another force, or a lower dimension, same thing (let’s leave the strong and weak quantum ‘forces’ for another day).

    Then there are the causes of this suffering, whether it is truly a dimension of not. The four Noble Truths explicitly state that craving is cause, but it DOES NOT state that it is THE (one and only) cause, and this is a common misconception of Buddhism, especially among argumentative American Buddhists, which says as much about Americans as it does about Buddhists, and brings us back to the reasons that we’re having this thought experiment in the first place, i.e. Westerners like to argue fine points, not to sharpen the cutting edge, necessarily, but to wield it widely. Note: Sanskrit has no definite articles in its grammar.

    Finally I think the important point is that pain, indeed, is optional. Indeed we know that drugs exist to alleviate pain, and can do so quite effectively, so there’s that. But there’s also the fact that dimensional suffering doesn’t necessarily have much to do with pain at all in the first place. It’s almost more like a passive grammatical voice in which we are objects of a preposition, or proposition, and not true subject. And that may speak volumes. Buddhist suffering is like suffering for your art or you child. It doesn’t have to hurt. And it requires practice, faith, and joy…

    Source: https://fakebuddhaquotes.com/pain-is-inevitable-suffering-is-optional/

     
  • hardie karges 1:14 pm on March 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Dyaus Pitra, , Mata, mise-en-scene, mutation, , Prithvi, , ,   

    Buddha in the Raw: Nature is the Dharma of Birth… 

    People come and go. Events come and go. But dharma is always there, hand in hand with Nature. In fact, in at least a couple or three SE Asian languages, the word for ‘Nature’ itself translates from the original Pali/Sanskrit as ‘Dharma of Birth,’ jati in its original meaning as ‘birth’ long before it came to supplant varna as the most common word for Indian caste, in a more polite form connected to job description, apparently, as if birth were all about some inherited profession, and not the deep ancestry, mostly defined in the popular imagination by color, varna, long before we could count mutations on the y-DNA sex chromosome, and ultimately define the haplogroup in stages, simply by its imperfections in transmission, just like all attempts at eternal life. Breathe deeply.

    And thank God for that Y-chromosome, so that we can reproduce sexually, rather than by other lesser means and mixtures. But the dharma is intrinsically involved, and that is the point, whether in molecular makeup or some concept far removed, in language, DNA’s lofty handmaiden, jealous of DNA, even long before its discovery, and desirous of co-opting that proclivity into the various nominal grunts and syllabic sonic glides that connect hard consonants verbally into molecular syllables capable of standing alone but always looking for partners to run with, creating words and sentences and paragraphs and histories, all under the auspices of simple reproduction, conceptually rather than biologically, and capable of moving through space without stepping incrementally into the medium of space, but rather capable of quantum leapfrogging through the intervening leagues in an instant or less, with or without the materialistic crutches of light and sound.

    We are imperfect creatures of the void and the stuff, any dualism merely implied but not intended, since the 1 and the 0 of stuff and void are ultimately reconcilable into a common source whether conceptual or mathematical, and who’s to know the difference anyway? Dualism and non-dualism are but snapshots in time, incapable of independent existence, and often confused for far greater achievements than they really aspire to. For insertion of the thing into the void is merely the mise-en-scene for a movie into which we were born and from which we will die, scarcely even pretending to know the reasons why or wherefore, simply that it is thus and will be recorded as such by any witness capable of the feat. There are more important things to do and accomplish in the short time allotted to any given system of biological life, and that is the task to which we are beholden as children of the Sun and Moon, in their earthly representations, Dyaus Pitra and Prithvi Mata, Sky Father and Earth Mother, reproducing throughout an uncertain infinity. It is thus. Let old mourning become new mornings, and rebirth can occur in spirit, not flesh…

     
  • hardie karges 4:59 pm on February 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Buddhism and the Middle Path between Life and Logic… 

    The Middle Path is not straight and narrow, but rather long and winding. But this is one of the common misconceptions about Buddhism, that the Middle Path is some sort of magic pill, that you can pop at will, and presto change-o, you’re enlightened and enwisened beyond all time and all space and any ill-conceived dualistic perception of the two.

    But it’s not always that simple. Sure, it works well as a quickie compromise. Can’t decide between hot and cold? No problem: choose the lukewarm option, and that will usually suffice, as long as you aren’t too picky about your flavors. But note that this doesn’t always work. For instance, when the Mahayana Buddhists revised the Middle Path as a choice between existence and non-existence, the choices are thrown into starker focus.

    Is there a Middle Path between existence and non-existence? If we adopt the position that Buddhism itself is a Middle Path between the suicidal tendencies of Jainists and the wildest imaginations of Vedantists, then the question is self-fulfilling by simple acceptance of the basic premises of Buddhism.

    But it is certainly not likely that that is the original meaning, so further ruminations on the existence of self are a better bet, in which the original Theravada Buddhists (and the Buddha himself) posited an imaginary self, that exists in a conventional, but not a permanent, way, and which is a cause of much of our suffering, if not all of it, i.e. not necessarily ‘the’ cause, since Sanskrit has no grammatical articles, definite or indefinite.

    ‘Sunyata’, ‘emptiness’, expanded on this concept, such that everything has only an imaginary existence, very quantum-friendly. In all likelihood, though, the dichotomy between existence and non-existence is ‘merely’ an act of logic, tetra-lemma in style, in which anything that can be asserted can also be denied, or both accepted and denied, or neither accepted nor denied. That’s Indian logic, catuskoti. Go figure.

    But the original Middle Path is much easier to digest and much easier to incorporate into one’s normal life of decisions and planning. Thus the Middle Way is a metaphysical position of non-extremism, which goes far beyond the Buddha’s original considerations of luxury versus extreme asceticism. As already indicated, Buddhism itself could be considered a sort of Middle Path, which I think it is.

    And it is not always straight and narrow, but often winding and zig-zag, and can even be seen as the ‘sweet spot’ between extremes. Moreover, it can even be seen as the synthesis resulting between thesis and antithesis in any given dialectic. Thus the Middle Way is more than a path. It is balance.

     
  • hardie karges 2:00 pm on February 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , Right Speech,   

    The Two Major Schools of Buddhism: Past Life or Present Moment… 

    You can’t be a ‘present moment’ Buddhist and a ‘past life’ Buddhist at the same time, since the two concepts are contradictory. And this is probably more important than any modern distinction between Theravada and Mahayana, Tibetan or Zen, simply whether you believe in past lives or not, karma and rebirth supposedly the causes and effects of that process.

    So the present moment is mostly a convenient escape, with ET extending the landing chute, because no present moment really exists, any more than a past life, but the latter is more onerous than the former, which can vanish with the flick of a whisker, while the past lives will never go away, as long as it is believed in.

    Because past lives are all about predestination, and the submission to a supposedly higher will, when one is more than enough. And if this all likely began with the best of intentions, it soon became a stage prop to the caste system, i.e. racism, the idea that some are born with latent superiorities, while others are born with obvious deficiencies.

    Thus your station in life is pre-determined by the events of a previous life, and there is little you can do to change it. None of that has any basis in science, of course, the racism nor the past lives. But still we have to deal with it, day by day, the racism of Aryan superiority not only in India, but in Europe and Amerika and in the latter-day colonies Down Under.

    Predestination is the philosophical side to the same phenomena of past lives, the idea that ‘it is all written,’ notwithstanding the fact that nothing at all was written until a few thousand years ago, still the image is powerful, script on paper, replicating itself into countless lifetimes and universal ages.

    Calvin the Presbyter made great gains with a similar theory in the Western world, details left to the deacons of stupas and steeples, the main takeaway that we are not in control, PERIOD. And that might not be such a bad thing, if the ulterior motives of religion are to be taken at face value.

    After all, aren’t all religions most similar in their insistence that we subject ourselves to a higher will? For all Christianity’s eternity and infinity, the need to obey God is paramount, the only question now or later, prodigal or prescient. And so it is with Islamic submission and Hindu embrace, we Buddhists left to fill in blanks that the others have all left unfilled.

    But the ‘present moment’ is something else entirely, and at its best in countering the pernicious superstitions of karma, especially the kind that jumps generations to bounce back and bite you when you least expect it, in the next life. Belief in the present moment provides a convenient counterpart to challenge all that. I would go not nearly so far as ET in extolling its virtues, since its virtues to me are simply those of meditation, whether with single focus or field focus, the result is the same.

    To shut off the internal dialogue, even for a moment, is to return to proto-consciousness, paleo-consciousness, before language took over and came to own it. Now languages conquer peoples and acquire new lands, our hapless selves but tools of the medium, neither rare nor well done. Samma vaca is right speech. Right speech is good speech. Silence is preferable to bad speech. Words matter…

     
    • Five 7:46 am on February 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      What tradition of Buddhism were you trained in, Hardie? And is this “present moment Buddhism” something that people teach?

      You say “You can’t be a ‘present moment’ Buddhist and a ‘past life’ Buddhist at the same time” – but you can, and that is the whole point. Because the present moment never had a beginning (you recall one?) and has no end – it cannot have because it has no duration – that tells us that the “present moment”, i.e. conscious awareness, does not end at death. That’s all you need to know, you don’t need to remember past lives, or believe anything other than your experience (which is only ever of the ‘present moment’, as above, that IS your experience).

    • hardie karges 7:54 am on February 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      I have an MA in Buddhist Studies, so I am ‘trained’ in all of them. No, ‘present moment’ Buddhism is not taught, to my knowledge, unless you want to credit Eckhart Tolle with it. I use poetic license to conduct my thought experiments, in hopes of reaching a higher truth, or at least a different one. Interesting that you begin by disagreeing with me, and end by more-or-less agreeing with me. You are obviously a present moment Buddhist, if you are a Buddhist at all, good choice (even if you don’t believe in death, which is a bit of a dicey proposition)…

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