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  • hardie karges 12:00 pm on December 2, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , non-violence, , ,   

    Buddhism 499: Pacifism is not passivism… 

    This is one of the hardest lessons of Buddhism, balancing the dual extremes of not only luxury and lack, the Middle Path of Theravada Buddhism, but action and inaction, and ultimately existence and non-existence, the Middle Path of Mahayana. Given the truth that the source of much of our discontent is not to be found in the ‘outside’ world, but right in our own minds, the obvious temptation is to ignore that ‘outer’ world and simply adopt a passive approach towards it.

    But I don’t think that’s what the Buddha meant to imply. Sure, the non-violence of ahimsa is to be applied to every possible situation up to, but not including, our own self-destruction, but that does not mean that the larger world surrounding us, and which is the source of us, is to be ignored. It means not to get lost in that world exclusively, or, God forbid, attached to it, complete with cravings and unhealthy desires. And if this sounds like an abstract consideration, with scarce application to the ‘real’ world, then I can assure you that it is not.

    In fact, I avoided Buddhism for years in Thailand, judging that it was the cause of what I perceived to be the passivity of the culture, and concluding that that would not be a suitable choice for me, since I saw myself as too slow to act already, and that any further encouragement in that direction would not be suitable to my personal development. But sometimes conditions dictate causes, and other times I’m simply wrong.

    Because, compared to the dog-eat-dog USA, almost any place could be considered passive, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially in the age of Global Warming and never-ending warfare. The important conditions in this day and age are perfectly suited to Buddhism, even if a more aggressive Christianity was maybe more suited to a younger less-populated Earth—maybe. In any case, that was then. This is now. This is not a good time for fighting, and it may not even be a good time for celebrating, but it is definitely a good time for getting ourselves in sync with a better and more sustainable world. We’re playing for keeps here…

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  • hardie karges 9:29 am on November 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Good Karma: the Gift that Keeps on Giving… 

    Good karma occurs every day that you make a donation and someone benefits from it besides yourself. If you benefit from a gift, then there is another word for that: business, transaction, you name it. But the word ‘karma’ itself means ‘action,’ and so we Westerners have our own version of this admonition: ‘Actions speak louder than words,’ and so they do. But the word generally has a negative connotation, i.e. ‘bad karma,’ or something like cruel fate. So, what we want, then, is good karma, which necessitates good actions, and which has a connotation similar to ‘good luck.’

    For me, I’ve detected at least two different extant forms of karma as practiced in Buddhism, probably best exemplified by the Tibetan and Theravada forms, but which I tend to think of as ‘heavy’ and ‘lite,’ in order to avoid strict definitions and casual dismissals. Because I respect all forms of Buddhism, even if I personally prefer a mix of the original Theravada and the most recent secular, so something like the original ascetic discipline combined with the latest scientific knowledge, anything but silly superstition.

    The heavy karma version, best exemplified by Tibetan Buddhism, follows you around like some entity counting your transgressions, ready to give your performance a score which will determine whether you escape the wheels of samsara and rebirth to find a place in some better world, or whether you will ultimately be reborn to go another round in this hellscape. Now I won’t go into the ironies of the differing Eastern and Western approaches to Heaven and Hell. Suffice it to say that for me, this is beyond the bounds of science, so holds little sway in my life choices.   

    For me the important thing is to give, of your (non) self, your time, and of course: your money, because this is nothing if not a green imperfect world, far in concept from the perfect world of pure white light, as we imagine it. And if that seems like making a deal with the devil, then so be it. At least it’s a devil we know. But time is of the essence. To wait until the ‘time is right’ is often to miss the point entirely: time is an imperfect dimension, as are they all, and the human dimension especially so. We’re afflicted with disease, old age, poverty, and death, but these are conditions which can be mitigated. Give. It’s good karma.

     
  • hardie karges 12:06 pm on November 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , consumption, , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism and Survival of the Species 

    Buddhism is more than just a religion or philosophy. It is a method for planetary survival, and that’s why we’re here right now. Because I care about planetary survival, and I hope that you do, too. And by ‘planet,’ I specifically mean the human race, since I have no doubt that the rock itself can continue to provide for itself, regardless of whether humans had ever shown up to sully the mix. But we are like DNA, and DNA is like language, and so we must cross our T’s and dot our I’s and make sense of random mutations.

    As soon as our survival was assured, we humans set about killing each other. And the coincidence of this with the invention of language may have not been so coincidental at all. Thus, once adopted, language has somehow become intrinsic to our existence, and so it is necessary to make our peace with it. Buddhism is famous for meditation, of course, and so that is one way of dealing with language, by losing it—powerful. Because for all the rap about insight, mindfulness, and ‘calm abiding,’ the one thing common to all meditation is silence. Guided meditation is something else.

    Christianity was fine when the human race was still young, and the need to breed was still arguably extant. But with eight billion people (and counting), the passion of Christ has long since been replaced by the passion of mice, breeding like rabbits and eating like wolves. This is not what the world needs right now. We’re a successful species, unless we continue to kill ourselves. I don’t think a species has ever gone extinct by mass suicide. But we could become the first, regardless of stated intents. Buddhism is one way to resolve this issue favorably, by choosing inner peace over mass consumption…

     
  • hardie karges 1:58 pm on November 5, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Dharma and the Middle Path as a Law of Nature… 

    There’s always a middle Path, whether or not it’s THE middle Path. This may be a bit of a deviation from the standard central dogma, which likes to break the Middle Path down into the Eightfold Path of Right View, Thought, Speech, Action, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness, and Meditation, BUT: who needs dogma, anyway? I don’t. So, I like to think of the Middle Path as a universal principle applicable to a multiplicity of situations, and carrying a message embedded that is worth more than just a little attention.

    Because we are not only just junkies for excess, whether it be luxury or lack, existence or non-existence, or form and emptiness, all aspects of the Buddhist definition, but there seems to be excess embedded into our very value system. For example, when we eat cooked food (yum yum) it’s generally considered best at anything but room temperature, right? We go to great lengths to make our best dishes either steaming hot or icy cold, don’t we? Anything tepid is considered middling, and that’s generally not a good judgment upon a cook’s ability.

    But, why is that? Is there anything intrinsic to taste to be found in that manifestation of attractions to extremes? There’s a possible argument to be made that either extreme is conducive to the preservation of the food, whether at extremely high temperatures or extremely low ones, but that argument quickly falls apart when considering anything besides culinary items. Why do we like bright colors? Why do we like high places? Why do we like deep caves? Perhaps, more to the point: Why do we like getting drunk? Why do we like getting high?

    The most obvious manifestation of these extremes is their danger, but then, on second thought, is it maybe their unnaturalness (is that a word?)? Bingo. Most of us really don’t want to die, now, do we? But we don’t mind pushing the envelope, so to speak, and we certainly don’t mind the thrill aspect. Why? Because it’s not natural, that’s why. And maybe that’s a hidden message of the Buddha: be natural. One definition of dharma, in fact, is just that: the law of Nature. So, does that mean that the Buddha was a Boomer? Cool, that’s okay by me…

     
  • hardie karges 12:05 pm on October 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , Right Thought, Samma sankapppa   

    The Role of Thought in Buddhism… 

    The Buddha never taught or recommended No Thought, an idea popular in some Buddhist and all ‘non-dualistic’ groups, which should be labeled ‘non-pluralistic,’ btw, just saying. The Buddha taught Right Thought, samma samkappa. But don’t thoughts sometimes just pop up? Yes, they do. the issue here is not one of ownership, though, but the true nature of thoughts and feelings. For some reason, we tend to trust our feelings, but reserve much suspicion toward our thoughts. But are they any different, really?

    So, maybe they are as different as heart and head, but is that any different, either, really? Because those bodily locations have only been known since recently, but the concept of Mind, as citta, has been known since almost forever, and certainly since the time of Buddha. Indeed, during the Buddha’s time, and even later, there was considerable debate in Greece, and possibly India, over the location of the origin of thought, such that Plato placed it at or in the brain, while his student Aristotle placed it firmly in the heart.

    And if it seems obvious that the source of all sensations originating in the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth could only logically be mixed and matched somewhere nearby such as the gray matter that constitutes a brain, then it is equally plausible that the center could be where the pathways of the blood start and finish, itself perhaps the mechanism for mixing and matching those sensations into more complex feelings and thoughts. Modern neuroscience has come a long way since then, of course, but still we ‘listen to our hearts,’ even if we prefer to ‘use our brains’ for the heavy lifting, intellect being generally considered superior to intuition.  

    That distinction is sometimes used to differentiate men and women, to generally ill effect, but the fact remains that the two activities are intertwined. But to imagine that thoughts have no proper human origin nor intention, per the ‘non-dualist’ screed, is absurd and counterproductive, and for what purpose it is not clear. Even if Buddhism is technically non-dualist, in the sense that ‘we are one with everything’ like the joke about the monk ordering hot dogs, the modern ‘non-dualists’ go much too far in asserting that we are therefore nothing. That may pay well in the online debates, but it’s not what the Buddha said, and that is my only concern. Think good thoughts.

     
  • hardie karges 2:31 pm on October 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism and McMindfulness… 

    There is nothing mystical about meditation. It is a practical and helpful tool for self-improvement. It gets the woo-woo treatment big time, though, from the wannabe pandits and acharyas matching it up with ‘mindfulness’ and ‘lovingkindness’ for the big Buddhist-Christian one-two punch guaranteed to put McMindfulness in your sacred space and muesli in you breakfast nook. Did someone mention the New Age and/or Wellness communities?

    Because that’s what Buddhism is, of course, to the average American and/or Western European, one of a dozen or two systems (dare I say ‘disciplines?) on tap to inspire you to the next level of awareness, sati, which is precisely the same word so often translated as ‘mindfulness’ for its salutary effect on the brain’s language centers. And at the same time, it also guarantees a course to be taught somewhere in the cool part of town, thereby guaranteeing the acceptance and continuance of such a tradition regardless of its intrinsic connection to Buddhism—or not.

    Because, in the debate over just how much of Buddhism can be downloaded to the surrounding community without concern over cultural appropriation or misappropriation of intent and purpose, meditation is the one thing that definitely CAN be offloaded for the layman’s typical—even commercial—applications. Like yoga for Hindus, meditation is the one aspect of Buddhism which is truly universal, and which does NOT require a secret handshake. You simply follow certain techniques for certain effects.

    The names can be confusing and causes and effects can be conflated and even reversed, such that one technique is called by its desired effect, but the techniques are generally similar, just sit down, STFU, and concentrate—on not much, either some one thing internally or the whole broad spectrum externally. Some techniques uses mantras, as made famous by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation™ (pun intended), but many Theravada Buddhists simply repeat the name “Buddho, Buddho, Buddho.”

    As Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan character often said: “Stop the internal dialogue.” When that happens, then you have returned to proto-consciousness and thereby recover something which you had lost with language, sati and samadhi, awareness and concentration (one-pointedness). In the process, then, you will hopefully receive samatha, calmness, or vipassana, insight, but the technique is similar. What you do with it is up to you. Being nice to people is always a good place to start.

     
    • SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ 4:42 pm on November 5, 2022 Permalink | Reply

      Dear Hardie Karges,

      Your post entitled “Buddhism and McMindfulness…” is very enjoyable to read and definitely timely and topical. Thank you very much. I concur with you about the issues regarding McDonaldization and appropriation.

      I would like to inform you that one of my latest posts can be of considerable interest to you, for I have distilled a great deal of observations and conclusions along similar themes. It concerns being present in the moment with awareness and (engaged) mindfulness. This highly engaging and expansive post is entitled “🔄📈📉 Change Rules and Moment Matters: How to Stay in the Moment 🔖🕰️🔂“, published at

      https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2022/08/19/change-rules-and-moment-matters-how-to-stay-in-the-moment/

      The said post opens with this paragraph:

      A spiritual outlook with a minimalist perspective on life that is conducive to happiness is often predicated on living in the present moment through mindful awareness emancipated from the vagaries of the subconscious and the itinerants of the mind.

      This post discusses mindfulness, meditation, spirituality, religion, Nature and so on. I welcome your input since I am curious to know what you make of my said post as well as your perspectives on those matters discussed in my post. I look forward to savouring your feedback there!

      There are many quotations distributed throughout the post. The quotees include Buddha, Thích Nhất Hạnh, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Werner Hans Erhard, Jack Kornfield and Elizabeth Thornton.

      Thank you once again for your pertinent and cogently written post.

      Wishing you a mindful and suitably productive November doing or enjoying whatever that satisfies you the most, both intellectually and spiritually!

      Yours sincerely,
      SoundEagle

      • hardie karges 11:52 am on November 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for your comments. Sorry to get back to you so slowly, but I’ve been traveling (and my laptop is dying). I’ll try to take a closer look at this now. Thanks!

        • SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ 4:23 pm on November 13, 2022 Permalink

          Dear Hardie Karges,

          You are welcome. The 13th of November is World Kindness Day! Wishing you a productive November and a wonderful week doing or enjoying whatever that satisfies you the most, whether intellectually, artistically, physically, spiritually or emotionally!

          I look forward to your submitting a comment to my said post as a token of your visit.

          Yours sincerely,
          SoundEagle

  • hardie karges 9:55 am on October 16, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , pindapatha, , , Sri Lanka, ,   

    Buddhism in the Balance: Why Do Men Dominate the Sangha? 

    The Sangha should be not just a brotherhood of monks, but a brotherhood of man, and a sisterhood of women. This is a bit of a sore subject for Buddhism, too, since the beginning, firstly because in its original inception it WAS a bit explicitly oriented towards saffron-robed renunciants, with distinctly less concern for the surrounding community, even though that surrounding community indeed were the very people charged with feeding those same renunciant monks everyday by means of dana provided during the alms-round pindapatha.

    This indeed was much of the discussion and dispute that resulted in the formation of a bodhisattva-and-community-oriented Mahayana tradition to enhance the original monk-oriented Theravada tradition. So far, so good. The two traditions managed to co-exist, as they still do to this day. Women haven’t fared so well, though. The Buddha finally allowed them to ordain as full renunciant nuns, but only with grudging acceptance and after much exhortation by a female family member. Then, to add insult to injury, the Buddha stated that the dharma would only last for a fraction of the time that it would’ve otherwise lasted, a fact which some monks use to rub salt in the wound to this day.

    Yes, modern monks of the Theravadin and Tibetan Vajrayana traditions proudly elucidate the reasons why nuns can’t be ordained, mostly that because the tradition once died out, then it can’t possibly be revived, can it? So, nuns from Thailand go to Sri Lanka, where the tradition is intact, to ordain, and then go back to Thailand to practice. Ironically the only reason that any Buddhism is intact in Sri Lanka is because Thailand helped them to reboot the system there after it had died out totally, even though Sri Lanka is where Thailand got their Theravada in the first place. Whew! That was close! Yes, it’s complicated.

    But mostly it’s just good old-fashioned patriarchy and misogyny that keeps women begging at the gates. Sayadawgyi Mahasi in Yangon, Myanmar, writes that if women are lucky, then they will be reborn as men, so… with that kind of attitude, then it’s no wonder that there is a problem. So, rebirth is used as a justification for patriarchy and not only the Brahmin caste superiority that I’ve long credited them with. Even in my own forest temple in Thailand, the senior monk made it clear that women need not apply for residence, even though I, a foreigner, Thai-speaking admittedly, was warmly welcomed. Women still have a long way to go. Keep the faith. Hearts are there to be warmed.

     
  • hardie karges 6:47 am on October 9, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , kileshas, , , ,   

    The Poisons of Buddhism: Hate and Anger and the Path to Danger… 

    Anger destroys everything and everyone in its path, and usually a few bystanders, also. Thus, it is rightly one of the three poisons of Buddhism, as a synonym of hatred, dvesha, and co-equal to lust, raga, and delusion, moha. These poisons are also known variously as the Unwholesome Roots (good name for a Rock-and-Roll band, haha), and the Three Fires. In other words: don’t be like that. Do good things, and good things will come to you. That’s karma, in this life and this world, no need for all the generation-jumping and multiple feedback loops. Obey your Mom and Dad, and love your neighbor as yourself, also, BTW.

    But anger and hatred hold a special place in my Hall of Fame of disgusting behavior, simply because it’s so unnecessary and so easy to avoid. You don’t have to do anything! But there are a few things that you should definitely NOT do: lose your temper, raise your voice, or say and do things that you know you will later regret. But for some reason it feels so good in the heat of the moment to tell someone and his mother where to go and where to stuff it when they get there, that you just can’t help yourself, and the recriminations and guilt will only come later, like maybe five minutes later.

    Because guilt is the weapon of Karma’s choice, the punishment that should be equal to any crime, but it works only if the guilty party has been taught ethics and morality, and lives in a society where such high purposes have value. Some people are so corrupt that they are impervious to the recrimination of guilty feelings, and so the only punishment for wrongdoing is more wrongdoing, as society degenerates into madness and solutions are hard to find. Sound familiar? Such are sanctions in the city. Maybe it’s time to return to Nature. That’s the original dharma, ธรรมชาติ…

     
  • hardie karges 6:07 am on October 2, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: brain, , , , , jit, jitjai, , Thai language   

    Buddha in the Mirror: Form is Emptiness, and Mind is Heart… 

    The mind should be like a mirror, reflecting everything and possessing nothing. Because no one really knows what the mind is. We only know it by its fruits, the fruits of a consciousness that is certainly important, however indefinable and possible unknowable. But that’s okay, because to define it is to limit it, and you know where that leads, roadblocks and dead ends and reasons to give up the search for meaning when that is at the heart of what mind truly is.

    That much we know, and not much else, because the mind is as mysterious as the ways in which it expresses itself. But it’s always been associated with the heart, even before we really knew much, if anything, about the workings of that anatomical organ. So, that’s probably the best clue to what we know about it, that it was long considered to be the center of not only love, but consciousness, those two aspects of human existence considered to be inseparable, even when it was presumed to be located in that chest cavity which contained so many other important organs which were essential to life, specifically the lungs.

    The importance of gray matter would only be known much later, much like DNA, so we must have been thinking: why would THAT be important? Everything important was seen to reside in that chest cavity, no matter that our primary sense organs were all located in the head. Buddhist citta makes no mention of any sense organ, to my knowledge, but Thai language quickly compounded that consciousness jit with the jai heart to make a compound jitjai which persists to this day, long after the scientific biological functions are well known.

    So it is in popular culture, also, that love is somehow located in the chest cavity, regardless of all evidence to the contrary (the kids can stay. I won’t talk about genitalia, haha). But this is important, because love IS an expression of mind, not body, even before language came along to muddy the mix. So, now we associate mind (not necessarily THE mind) with cognition and cogitation and logic and symbolism, but that is all secondary. Mind is heart, and the mind’s quest is for meaning, not truth.

     
  • hardie karges 4:09 pm on September 25, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Japan, , , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism and the Dialectic of Deliverance… 

    Buddhism needs no fancy metaphysics nor linguistics, multiple hells nor forty-two flavors of emptiness. Kindness and compassion are enough, metta and karuna and all that jazz. Which is one of the singular beauties of the faith, of course, that almost nothing is required up front, but some goodwill and a policy of non-aggression, ahimsa, such that oftentimes simply doing nothing, absolutely nothing, is the preferred path to advancement, simply because all other options are of lesser benefit.

    Some sects of Buddhism prefer a more elaborate presentation of gods and goddesses, but this is entirely optional and the historical Buddha himself had none of it. In fact, I’m not sure that the historical Buddha would even recognize Tibetan Vajrayana, or Japanese Zen, as something of his own inspiration. But such is the evolution of culture and language, so that a random mutation can be almost guaranteed to occur every eighty years or so, just like the DNA from which we all descend.

    But that doesn’t mean that Tibetan and Japanese Buddhists have nothing in common. They do. It’s just that these two almost-opposite branches of Buddhism are poised like the horns of a dilemma to offer themselves up as starting points for the next phase of dialectical Buddhism. So, given the superstitious and elaborate nature of Vajrayana and the sparse linguistic and meditation-oriented nature of Zen, what would be the next logical step for Buddhism to advance, at least in the West, that great field of dreams left to conquer?

    It just might be the original Theravadin style, with or without the religious trappings, so a more secular but traditional Buddhism, for lack of better terminology. And this is the current situation in the West, where those two extremes have found highest favor with the freedom-loving West, while the more disciplined original approach has found little favor—until now. Because the current acceptance of secular Buddhism goes back to the Early Buddhist roots in many important ways, but without karma, rebirth and past lives. The only question is how all of this will play out I the long run. My fingers are crossed. We are in need of some new synthesis to advance forward…

     
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