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  • hardie karges 11:18 am on August 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , birth, , , , ,   

    Buddhism and Nature: the Law of Birth… 

    Nature is ธรรมชาติ, ‘dhammachaht,’ dharma jati, the dharma of birth, not the law of rebirth, in at least a few Asian languages, and likely a few more. And that is probably as good a definition of it as I could come up with, notwithstanding the fact that such a ‘birth’ does indeed become for many a ’round’ of which there are many, and which can neither be proven or disproven, ultimately, but for which there is no intrinsic logic, nor empirical evidence…

    But when we Westerners think of Nature, what do we think of, if not something wild and free, and so a tight fit into our narrative of liberty, and the delightful disobedience which that implies, for we love nothing so much as breaking the rules, ALL the rules, if not all the time, then at least as often as we can get away with it…

    But does Nature do that? Not hardly, I don’t think, and the typical Asian view, by invoking ‘dharma,’ is certainly likening it to a law, and therefore something which we disobey only at great risk to ourselves. But that doesn’t mean that Nature is something written in stone, or on crinkled crackling paper, and the ink stains that have dried upon some lines…

    No, nature is something changing, even if the laws invoked may indeed be unchanging—or not. Thus the first rule of DNA—sh*t happens, i.e. mutations occur, and that becomes the raw material for evolution. Now the central dogma of the science of genetics is that these mutations are random, which may or may not be true, but there is much anecdotal evidence that there may indeed be more to it than that, but for which firm and verifiable evidence is heretofore lacking…

    And that doesn’t even consider the fact of so-called ‘genetic drift,’ which no one can or will deny, but only damn by the faint praise of its ‘driftiness,’ thus removing it from any consideration as something maybe far more serious in terms of cause and/or effect…

    All of which is to say that the role of consciousness in evolution cannot be ruled out, even if some commentaries may have jumped the gun in ascribing to it more than its genuine worth, i.e. “consciousness affects evolution; evolution affects consciousness…”

    But this does nothing to minimize the miracle of birth, regardless, which is certainly not random, even if the product of the most random and brutal orgy, which is fortunately not usually the case, even if the Latin-inspired ‘romance’ may indeed often be lacking on cold dark nights in tight cramped corners….

    But Buddhism is more concerned with the suffering implicit, and it is certainly a fact that death is implied in the ‘law of birth’ and that is the proof of the prevalence of suffering, if only by a 51-49% advantage in the scores and statistics. For the world may be defined by its limits and its suffering, but there is much beauty, also, in Nature and Art, and the consciousness of it…

     
  • hardie karges 7:36 am on July 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Buddhism: Religion or Philosophy? 

    Many wars are fought in the name of religion. Very few are fought in the name of philosophy (Yes, I know there’s Communism and Capitalism and Democracy, etc., but I still maintain that the numbers are less). And this is an important distinction, especially with regards to Buddhism, which is essentially an open doctrine, and so has taken on many different forms, depending on the prior belief systems, and the general lay of the land, genetic predisposition, and special needs.

    It should be no surprise, though, that what any one people need is often far from what they think they want, indeed often the opposite, so this is a decision sometimes best left to high priests and palace intellectuals, who can see beyond the crass cravings and narrow proclivities of the mass populace and serve them the medicine they deserve, rather than the sweet nothings they crave.

    So violent Europeans get a religion of peace and love, sex-obsessed Arabs get a veil and no lipstick, while Asians obsessed with possessions and prestige get religions of renunciation. But they all get future options, one way or another, whether it’s eternal life, rebirth, or six dozen virgins all waiting with bated breath. In the case of Buddhism, though, it isn’t supposed to be that way.

    The stated goal is nirvana, often described as escape from the ‘wheel of rebirth.’ In other words, we Buddhists should be working to liberate ourselves from this realm of suffering, which is usually best mitigated, and seldom for celebration, and certainly not for clinging to. This is why many Christians criticize Buddhism as ‘life-denying’, in sharp contrast to their version of Christianity, touted as ‘life-affirming.’ This distinction and dichotomy can even be further cheapened as one of pessimism vs. optimism.

    But is that really intellectually and spiritually honest for a culture that lives for aggression and competition and whose history is replete with slavery? Or is it more like an emotional see-saw that wastes lives and centuries over the litigation of passions, striving and struggling, and is never truly ‘life-affirming’ except when victorious over the other contenders to power?

    Not so many centuries ago, Christianity, too, was a religion of renunciation, as can be claimed for both Hinduism and Buddhism, with or without a belief in an eternal self or soul. In other words, we are all scared to die, and the religion—or philosophy—that can answer that basic need will have a leg up on all the rest. So Buddhism attempts the impossible, to have rebirth with no soul, eternal life with no clinging, all with mixed results.

    And agnosticism is often criticized as a non-decision, but intellectually it is probably the only honest way, and thus in that sense, more philosophy than religion. Because religion depends upon divine intervention for spiritual fulfillment, and that is certainly not necessary in Buddhism. Here’s a thought experiment: Would you believe in soul or self if you had never looked in a mirror? Try to imagine what life was like before those long preening sessions gazing upon your reflection became central to your self-perception…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 12:49 pm on July 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      “But they all get future options … In the case of Buddhism, though, it isn’t supposed to be that way.

      I’m sure this is right, though wonder if the promised release of Buddhism in effect makes the future an irrelevance?

      • hardie karges 1:39 pm on July 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        It should be irrelevant, certainly, but old habits die hard, I guess, and I’m not sure why there is a clinging to personality, to be honest. I can understand the fear of death, just like the fear of anything new and uncertain. But if I were to be reborn I’d hope to be someone entirely disconnected from the present incarnation. Honestly a dimension of light sounds quite nice, and that is my definition of heaven…

        • Dave Kingsbury 2:10 pm on July 28, 2020 Permalink

          Sounds good to me, whether or not consciousness persists. As to ‘personality’, hope you forgive this upload of a DH Lawrence poem …

          Trust

          Oh we’ve got to trust
          one another again
          in some essentials.

          Not the narrow little
          bargaining trust
          that says: I’m for you
          if you’ll be for me. –

          But a bigger trust,
          a trust of the sun
          that does not bother
          about moth and rust,
          and we see it shining
          in one another.

          Oh don’t you trust me,
          don’t burden me
          with your life and affairs; don’t
          thrust me
          into your cares.

          But I think you may trust
          the sun in me
          that glows with just
          as much glow as you see
          in me, and no more.

          But if it warms
          your heart’s quick core
          why then trust it, it forms
          one faithfulness more.

          And be, oh be
          a sun to me,
          not a weary, insistent
          personality

          but a sun that shines
          and goes dark, but shines
          again and entwines
          with the sunshine in me

          till we both of us
          are more glorious
          and more sunny.

    • Alexis Adder 1:25 pm on July 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      The thing I found with American Christians (Not all forms of Christianity) is that it denies death and ignores it. While this sounds harmless, it is in fact dangerous. We have created a culture which sees sex as worse than death and violence. A culture where death is not taken seriously enough and creates sociopathy among the regular population. Where violence is no big deal. But people being born gay, that certainly is!

      In my Shin Buddhism path, one of the things I say to myself everyday is “I am of the nature to die”, “I am of the nature to be ill.”, and “I am of the nature to grow old.”. I accept reality as it is. (I also am a bit morbid and love gothic stuff!) I found the way Buddhism as a whole focuses on death, everything from being eaten by vultures to being mummified, to be much more realistic.

      But because of my Christian indoctrination I used to have the same hang ups about violence and sex. It took me exposing myself to real violence, even if it was on video, to realize just how bad violence is. It made me accept sex more and become more tolerant. And made me appreciate life as it is. This sounds stupid, but it has a lot to do with my cultural programming by Christians from an early age.

    • hardie karges 3:36 pm on July 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, there is no fact more central to life than death, which is proof of the Buddhist recognition of the prevalence of suffering, IMHO. Violence, fortunately, can be mitigated, but death cannot. I don’t accept violence as normal. It’s not. Any two species can coexist peacefully if raised together since birth, and provided adequate food. Thanks for your comments.

  • hardie karges 11:48 am on July 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Koran, ,   

    Rapping on Rebirth and Reincarnation, in the Failed State of a Rental Car Nation… 

    The best rebirth is the one that occurs every day. That’s the one that comes right after the Koranic ‘little death’ that occurs each night, and right before the large plate of bangers, beans, and mash with which we submit to break our fast…

    And that little baptism indeed feels better than mere goodliness, a splash in the face, and a new start to the race, and no shame short of crying that we have to go and spoil it all by a mad dash to some sh*t-stained place of work, four corners and a stool from which to count more beans and pretend that this is what drives our evolution…

    Language loses all logic in transmission and translation, so what we strive for becomes strife, and the passion we suffer becomes the passion we love, and we fool ourselves into thinking that it’s all from above, when in reality we struggle to make sense of the simplest things—life, love and the happiness of pursuit, in the face of disease, pestilence, and a plenitude of nemeses…

    So let’s call it the ‘little rebirth’ so as not to confuse it with the big ‘R’ of karmic retribution, and reincarnation, jumping generations and landing on layered platforms, slathered thick with that special sauce of multiple feedback loops, such that we can never escape the prison of consciousness, creating enough past lives to fill volumes of pre-history, such that bad karma apparently extends before the birth of the human race, by conservative estimate…

    But can we be blamed for something that predates the birth of consciousness and so intent, by extension? I hope not, since intent is the basis of all guilty verdicts, and if there is no veridiction to the sentences that we are dealt, then it’s probably better to simply say nothing at all…

    The Buddha’s 100,000 lives, more or less, would extend back at least three million years, more or less, probably more if indeed good lives those of his certainly would be, so probably better to simply write it off as metaphor, and get on with our own lives…

    For we waste time in counting, and more precious time in the combat of exposition, stipulating silly syllogisms for the sake of argument, when the only recourse to recognition is through those labyrinthine passageways of the heart…

    Logic falls flat. Reason lies bleeding. Slide rules are antiquated and calculators require batteries, not always included. There is no path forward when the pathway is circular, and no convenient exit when the doors are all closed. Dharma requires no dogma. Dialog requires no debate…

     
  • hardie karges 5:40 pm on July 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Cargo Cults, , dualism, , Kant, maharishi, ,   

    Buddhism 101: It’s What’s Inside that Counts… 

    If you’re looking for Gods out there, then good luck, because the source of all godliness is inside. And this pertains heavily to the preeminent issue in the history of religion, whether there is one god or many, and it turns out that the answer may instead be ‘none of the above,’ the Kantian solution to a Cartesian problem, any dualism only apparent, when the real issue is the One or the Many…

    The problem of plurality is obvious, just add a god or two for every new situation, even if you’re really just adding another statue or sculpture along the way, thus another manifestation or appearance of a primordial god, rather than a new god itself, him or herself. Because what is a god really and truly worth, if you can simply create a new one on demand?

    This gets into what I would call the ‘Cargo Cult Conundrum’ in which one might erroneously be led into thinking that a longer runway or a higher control tower might attract the really big cargo 747’s with the really good stuff, straight from some celestial factory drawn directly by the supplications of the sentimental and superstitious. But if God is really just an inner projection, then the outer trappings are just that, so much decoration and nothing more nothing less.

    Monotheism was a huge development in the history of religion, usually credited to the Jews, and the Christians and Muslims who came after them in droves, as if everything that came before was polytheistic, and lesser in development. If this is to assume that focus is better than the scatter-shot, then they may be on to something, but I don’t think that’s the heart of the matter.

    I think the gist is that multiple gods are simply too costly, in terms of time, effort, and money, and there you can find much logic. A superstitious view of religion is simply to assume that the more that is invested, then the greater the reward, when there is no evidence to support that. The only thing certain is that giving can feel good, when it is given with faith in deliverance, regardless of the whys and wherefores.

    So now we can simply skip the intermediate steps, if we all agree that God is but a manifestation of our innermost needs and desires, so the trappings can be laid aside and we can work on training our minds toward truth, beauty, and goodness without all the random superstitions tossed in for good measure.

    And that is what Buddhism does, at its best, it goes straight to the heart of the matter, all gods optional, all articles of faith tentative. Because to be a good Buddhist, you really don’t have to do anything. You can meditate in a cave all your life, and go down in history as a maharishi par excellence. Or you can give and donate till your pockets are bare, and it’s all the same.

    The most important thing is what you don’t do. Do no harm. Do no kill. Do not steal. Etcetera etcetera, Five Precepts are almost identical to the Ten commandments, and that is likely no accident. The only thing certain is negation, and that is quantifiable, and measurable. What you do is your choice, the sea of probabilities. We are all connected on the inside, and that is where it counts…

     
  • hardie karges 12:13 pm on July 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Covid-19, , , , vegetarian,   

    Nature Asserts Herself with a Vengeance, and a Virus… 

    Nature is not ours to conquer. Nature is there for us to respect, honor, and obey. And if this seems like common sense, derived from common knowledge, believe me that it is one of the hardest commandments to obey, maybe because it was never written down, or maybe because it is somehow counter-intuitive, that what looks like ‘Nature’s bounty’ to us is somehow limited and precious and subject to restrictions on access.

    And isn’t that the way we males perceive our access to the feminine side of life? Because that’s what Nature is, even at its wildest, it is the feminine principle to life, as opposed to the will and violence that haunt the halls of patriarchal civilization. Because even at its most violent, the mighty lion subduing the gentle lamb, I don’t think that there is any enjoyment implied or expressed, simply the fact of life that big fish eat small fish, no offense intended.

    Only we humans have the willpower to construct cities, or the conscious intent to choose vegetarianism, when it is not our historical path that has led us to that conclusion, but pure consciousness. Now I could be wrong, but I don’t think that it is likely that any other species will soon emulate that decision, though they may very well be vegetarian by nature, and who knows the path that Nature has bequeathed upon that other species, whose story we little know, and that has brought them to that conclusion?

    But now we have come full circle, from nature and back again and the only thing that has changed is that we are one step closer to a complete revolution around a celestial body that is in itself in revolution around a celestial body, in some giant circle dance in some giant sky that only makes sense from a distance. So we build cities and take what we want from Nature, gentle bountiful Nature, as if it were a stray lamb on the edge of the flock, and there must surely be more where that came from.

    But there is not, not in any accessible form, that is. Because we are limited by light and gravity, and the restrictions placed by that fourth dimension of Time. Almost anything is possible in Space, but Time in a single dimension is less forgiving than Space in three, and Nature is the perfect example of that. In more than one SE Asian language it is something like the Thai ธรรมชาติ, thammachaht, i.e. dharma jati, the law of birth, straight from the Sanskrit, as filtered through the lens of Buddhism.

    And that’s what Nature is, too, the law of birth, and death, as it pertains to our lives and those that we are privileged to share with. If it took a pandemic virus for us to see that clearly, then so be it, better late than never. Because the new normal will have to be greener and cleaner, or it won’t work. Mother knows best…

     
  • hardie karges 12:24 pm on June 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Zero: the Middle Path between Buddhism and Mathematics… 

    Zero (shunya) is not just emptiness but boundlessness, capable of multiplying one (or any number) exponentially. Shunyata is the Buddhist concept of emptiness, of course, usually seen as an extension of the non-self anatta concept, which serves as one of the founding pillars of Buddhism, but which to this day is also one of the most-debated, if not quite so much as karma and reincarnation. But if shunya was there at the beginning, it only picked up steam later, finally finding a home in the emerging Mahayana school of Buddhism, the ‘large vehicle’ which incorporates such disparate philosophies as the Dadaist notions of Japanese Zen and the Kabbalistic leanings of Tibetan Vajrayana.

    But Mahayana also incorporates much of Chinese Taoism by most accounts, and possibly even Greek platonic idealism, if my hunches are correct. That the word shunya means ‘zero’ is undeniable. Many Asian languages can attest to that simple fact. Its translation into English as ‘emptiness’ can be debated, though, as well as the historical fact as to which came first: the graphic symbol 0 or the philosophical concept variously described as ‘emptiness’, ‘voidness’, or probably best—simply ‘zero-ness’, with all that term implies and denies. Most recently it implies ‘boundlessness’, by Japanese translator Tazuaki Tanahashi. This is a great improvement over previous connotations of nihilism and desolation.

    After all, in Western psychology ‘emptiness’ is generally considered a feeling to be avoided at all costs, and best treated with pharmaceuticals, if all else fails. American-style Buddhism has many divergences from the original, of course, and might even be considered ‘Buddha-flavored Christianity’, but that is another issue. The issue at hand is whether ‘boundlessness’ is indeed an accurate translation of shunyata or whether that is just wishful thinking, and careful marketing for the particular predilections of the Western lands. I think it is not only accurate, but enlightened, as long as it is used in conjunction with the concept of ‘emptiness’ or ‘voidness’. We are talking about ‘zero’, after all, and while that can mean ‘nothing’, it can also mean ‘infinity’, in that the simple addition of zeroes, in place notation, by definition implies an infinity in the act of multiplication, i.e. powers of ten.

    While I personally wouldn’t define shunyata by that one exclusive synonym, I am happy to use it in conjunction with the more traditional translation of emptiness. The truth might lie somewhere in between, at least in passing. So this is more like the Mahayanist ‘middle path’ than the Theravada, the middle path between existence and non-existence, not simple luxury and lack. And this was India’s supreme initial contribution to mathematics, back when simple addition and subtraction were the order of the day, and division and multiplication must have been a complicated affair. It would have been with no zero, yes? The interesting fact is that we still had decimal systems even without the zero. Why? Good question.

     
    • Five 10:41 am on July 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, definitely “boundlessness”! Lama Shenpen Hookham of ahs.org.uk calls it “Openness” too.
      But find it through practice, meditation – actually experience it – rather than trying to think your way to it. It is beyond thought. Great to clear up some wrong views, good discussion! There is good reason to use the term “emptiness” as well though. Search “emptiness” on piecesoffive.uk
      Five

      • hardie karges 11:14 am on July 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Yes I think it is time to reconcile 0 and 1, emptiness and singularity, a good task for modern Buddhists. Thanks for your comments…

  • hardie karges 11:24 am on June 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Buddhism and the Myth of the Alpha Male… 

    Buddhism is a peaceful reaction to an aggressive world. And that is the beauty of it, of course, the fact that some 2500 years ago, situations were such that the increasing aggressivity of the world was obvious, and remedies would certainly need to be taken, better sooner than later, even if the worst were yet to come.

    Because the paradigms are timeless, the aggressivity of men, in their quest to subdue nature to their needs of reproduction and nutrition and survival. So we worship the Alpha male as if there no other choice. But there is. That was then. This is now. The Alpha male is no longer ‘naturally selected’ for evolution the minute that women say ‘no’ and the other males say ‘me, too’. And that is that.

    Cultural evolution trumps the biological survival of the fattest, and history proceeds on a more equal footing. But it was always cultural, wasn’t it? Even in the ranks of the ‘lesser animals’ the myth of the alpha male only rules to the extent that others are unwilling to step up to the fight, and to train themselves for it. But the fight is the problem, now, isn’t it?

    Because fights are destructive, by definition, and many people are unwilling to submit to that, even when it means a possible increase to their dignity. And dignity is more than ego. Dignity is the inherent sense of self-worth that makes life worth living and fights worth fighting, even when they ultimately must be replaced by a better system of discourse.

    Are we ‘psychologically evolved’ for a system that no longer is viable in a world soon to be ten billion souls? The question is circular, because natural selection cannot predict. Natural selection can only rationalize the past. Only free will can create the future, even if none of us are truly and absolutely free.

    Use the illusion. And it doesn’t matter to me if we move backwards into that future with an eye to inclusion, rather than slashing and burning our way into that future with no reference to the past and its by-products, which includes most of the population of this world. Ten billion people slashing and burning will not a better world create, but only with careful and cautious movements designed for long-term sustenance, if not unrealistic permanence.

    Our mistakes are the raw material of evolution, random mutations not a superior product in itself, but the clay from which a better piece of pottery will emerge, whether by conscious design or brilliant mistake. And that is what Buddhism does, suggesting a middle way between aggression and escape, being and nothingness. A better world awaits, neither north, south, east or west, but somewhere deep inside…

     
  • hardie karges 12:07 pm on June 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , change, , , , , sankhara   

    Buddhist Impermanence and Greek Change, flip sides of the same coin… 

    Change doesn’t have to be a cause of suffering. It can also be a cause of liberation, if it’s compassionate, kind and helpful. And if that deviates from the standard Buddhist line of progression, then I’m sorry, but I think it holds true, at least for the modern day, with our modern ways. I personally haven’t shed too many tears over coming changes in a long time, but maybe that’s just a part of growing up, not sure, so maybe I better re-listen to Bruce Springsteen, since he sometimes gets it right, even if the Buddha didn’t. Now I embrace change, but true, it’s certainly better if it’s a change I initiate, so maybe that is the crucial line of distinction.

    So when the Buddha is quoted as saying ‘sabbe sankhara anicca,’ i.e. all things are impermanent, the implication is that that is bad, but maybe that is a faulty conclusion. It is one of the three Buddhist marks of existence, after all, along with suffering and no-self, but that doesn’t necessarily indicate ‘badness’, so maybe it’s just a fact for your perusal, echoing Heraclitus some 3000mi/5000km away (as the crow flies) in Greece right about the same. Coincidence? Ask that crow; only he knows for sure, and he might be fibbing. The fact that both likely had ancestors from the same ‘hood up north 2000 years before is likely irrelevant at this point, so I won’t mention it.

    Bottom line: everything changes but change itself, and if that scares you to death as a child about to move to a new town, or a young adult about to experience Love’s first great letdown, then rest assured: not only does this get easier, but you might even learn to like it, and seek it out, the other, if not another, geographical changes generally considered more socially acceptable than personnel changes, especially after a certain ‘use-by’ date, after which the changes become functionally impractical, and old dogs find it hard to learn new tricks.

    But learn they can, if the will is there, and who knows what ‘sankhara’ means anyway? (It does NOT mean ‘karma’ as modern ‘re-birthers’ like to suggest) I say ‘things’ as shorthand for ‘I don’t know,’ but the devil may indeed lie in the details, if ‘formations’ implies that it is my own fault if they change against my wishes, since I set myself up for that fall in advance. Because he never said that everything changes, but that all ‘formations’ are impermanent, and that is not necessarily the same thing, if ‘formations’ can exist or not exist without necessarily undergoing any intermediate state from one existence to another.

    But our lives necessarily proceed from one point to the next as if we had moved from one point to the next, not simply ceased to exist at one point and re-emerged at another. And so we measure our lives in time. And we mark our journeys in space. And we formulate emotions in reaction to it all. And we develop theories to explain it. So don’t become discouraged if the journey is long. All paths eventually lead home…

     
  • hardie karges 12:24 pm on June 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: #BlackLivesMatter, boycott, , curfew, injustice, lock-down, ,   

    Buddhism and Other People’s Crises: Lockdown and Curfew, Monasteries in the Making… #BlackLivesMatter 

    Maybe sometimes entire societies should go on extended retreat, shut down temporarily, and contemplate their existence. So societal lock-down doesn’t have to be so bad, whether for pandemic or riot-inspired curfew, not if you take advantage of the opportunities implicit therein.

    After all, monasteries are essentially locked down all the time, and the only people complaining are those who never really wanted to be there in the first place. The ones who are there by choice are not complaining about the poverty implicit in such a situation, either.

    In fact, any true monk takes a vow of poverty just for the privilege of being in lock-down. Implicit in the monastery deal is that there will be a community of supporters to take up the slack, of course, at least in Buddhism, and that is the sore spot for any Western culture, which tend to avoid class distinctions, even, or especially, when the class involved is a priestly one.

    I suppose this system works best, then, in SE Asia, where people are accustomed to such a system, and who find much value in it. I personally would probably prefer to grow my own food, if given the chance, even as a monk, and that is what many Buddhist monks in Japan do, if I’m not mistaken. I’m not sure about China or Taiwan, but I’ve never seen monks doing the morning alms walk in either, of that I am sure, ditto Korea, especially the north, haha.

    And for those who are in lock-down, but not by choice, maybe you should consider that as an attractive option, if only temporarily, for many non-monks also pay for the privilege of extended retreats. And while it is tempting to march in the streets right now in the name of rights and justice, that may not be the wisest option, and I’m not sure how much good it does, anyway, especially when some people of lesser ideals are obviously taking advantage of the uncertainties implicit, thus making the idealists complicit.

    In desperate political situations, aren’t the best remedies economic, i.e. boycott and/or divestment, or at least disinvestment? Isn’t that what changed the government in South Africa (if not the economy)? Isn’t that what drove the British out of India? People ask what is the Buddhist response to injustice…

    The Buddhist response to injustice is to provide a refuge to make you a better person, so that you will make good decisions. Nothing is gained by hate or anger or violence, and that includes language. Now is the time to create a new society, calmly and soberly and without prejudice. Reject the drama. Embrace the dharma.

     
    • kathleen chapman 7:44 pm on June 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      is there a buddhist organization I can ask for help finding refuge? ideas are great but I am about finding solutions. any ideas for solutions? There are a whole lot of us elder folks barely existing thru this lockdown. We have no resources since the pandemic was not part of our plans. thanks

      • hardie karges 7:35 am on June 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        I would imagine that there are Buddhist organizations in your neighborhood, but you’d have to google that for details. There are many Buddhist groups on Facebook, one of which I administer, but which is more oriented to quiet study than riotous debate. Others range from the devotional to the discursive. Many books on Buddhism are available from libraries, all of which now have online ‘overdrive’, where I’ve checked out at least a hundred in the last year or two. I sent you an invite to the FB group I administer. Feel free to check it out…

  • hardie karges 12:11 pm on May 31, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , dhyana, ,   

    Because, that’s why: Buddhism, Descartes, Castaneda and the urge to merge in meditation… 

    Words can cut like knives or heal like bandages, so be careful what you think, and even more careful of what you say.

    The fact that we think in languages is the starting point for many a fine thesis and many a sleepless night, because in one sense Descartes was right when he said ‘cogito ergo sum,’ i.e. I think therefore I am.

    And if that is usually taken as a badge of pride for the West, and a flag of caution for the East, in fact I think it is neither. It is simply a status update for the human condition.

    Because we can debate endlessly over whether human beings are indeed the homo sapiens, wise men, that we claim, but we can certainly agree that they do think, whether or not they are some arrogant s-o-b’s to label themselves as ‘wise’, at the expense of all others, which at that point in history was largely limited to the white ‘race.’

    And so it is with thinking, which we assume as our birthright, and limited to us, and only us. But all animals think. They just don’t all do it with language.

    And that is why we meditate, many of us, whether you categorize it into one of the two original Buddhist classifications or one of the four now in vogue, complete with the obligatory ‘mindfulness,’ as guided by your local ‘dharma teacher,’ namaste.

    When really all you need to do is sit down and STFU, and don’t move a muscle, or scratch an itch, or swat a fly for at least a good quarter hour for starters, and quadruple that for peer professionalism, without moving a muscle, I repeat.

    Because I don’t know what’s going on in your head inside, but I know it’s directly related to what’s going on with your body outside, and this is easily measured by perturbations in the visual field.

    If you’re twitching, I think we can assume that you have yet to achieve any of the four dhyana states, or was it five? I lost count.

    Because all that really matters is to stop the internal dialogue, if only for a moment, and that’s almost the only thing I took away from Carlos Castaneda and his avatar Don Juan and all his tales of Ya(n)qui power in the deserts of our own mind-fields, as they leapt off cliffs with intent and little else.

    And that is what the brain researchers who wanted to scan my brain in and out of meditation alluded to, also, and asked if I understood what they’re talking about. Huh? Doesn’t everyone?

    Now I don’t know if they read Castaneda, but of course I understood. I just don’t know why Buddhists don’t say it that way, or at least not in so many words.

    Because that is why meditation exists, for me, to return to basics, proto-consciousness, or paleo-consciousness, if you will, i.e. thought without language, just like the old days, just like the animals do, before all the new frontiers, and all the limits of language.

    Curiously many Buddhists think that is an injunction to not think, but I don’t think that is correct. Once we have language, then the choice is ours what to do with it. Because the Buddha never said not to think. He said to think rightly, and quite rightly…

     
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