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  • hardie karges 8:20 am on January 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Abrahamic, , , , , , Vedic   

    Buddhism and the Fear Factor… 

    The Buddhist Eightfold Path does not include fear. There is no such thing as Right Fear. Still that is the default position for much, if not most religion, as enshrined in the phrase ‘God-fearing,’ as it has resonated through American culture, at least, if not all Western culture and its multitude of lingos and dialectics.

    And in that way, it satisfies the civilizing function with which religion has been entrusted by so many and for so long, that mono-myth that serves as a belief system for the security of society. In that way it can even unite diverse and various societies under a common banner of inclusion, so that the internecine struggles that divide us may cease once we realize that we have common purpose, which in this case includes fear.

    The problem, of course, is that common purpose usually only goes part of the way toward inclusion before it bumps up against another belief system doing the same thing but from another source, and often heading in another direction. This is best evidenced in the various manifestations of Abrahamic religions, the three major branches of which have been at each other’s throats almost since the first day, albeit with shifting alliances between them (most people forget that Jews were once solemnly protected against the wrath of Christianity within the citadels of Islam, pre-1948).

    To their credit, the corresponding Vedic-descended religions have never shown such animosity, and often are included under the broad umbrella of Hinduism. But fear is still often a factor, especially to the extent that karma is invoked for that purpose, which is often the case. In that situation, a person is supposedly scared into doing good in this life out of fear of what the next life might bring. And it seems that in fact, that is why the Buddha accepted it, since there was really no proof either one way or the other, so why not err on the side of good results? Makes sense.

    But this is a different time and a different place. What once made good sense against the black background of ignorance, now makes little sense in the light of science. Now we must act in the certainty of our proofs and with the benefit of our education and knowledge. Thus fear is not a suitable motivation, unless accompanied by proofs, most of which are lacking, in the case of religion. There is no proof of God the Father. There is no proof of Heaven or Hell. There is no proof of reincarnation, and there is no proof of past lives (memories are, uh, flexible).

    So religion is better left to ethics and morality and providing inspirations for happiness. Leave Science to the scientists. When they try to solve wars by Science, then call them on their BS. That is the job of priests and philosophers (and the occasional politician). Conciliation is always preferable to confrontation. And peace is almost always better than war. They are the ones to tell you why and how. That is the job of religion and philosophy, not ruling by fear. Once you are vaccinated by Buddhism, then it is up to herd immunity to take over…

     
  • hardie karges 10:03 am on January 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , eternity, , MAGA, , , present moment, , Shaivite,   

    Buddhism and the Limits of Control… 

    Self-control isn’t really about controlling anything. It’s about right actions. And this is an important distinction for Western audiences, who simply abhor any limit to their supposed freedoms, whether real or imagined, whether they be MAGA-hat-wearing Trumpists or Buddhists who refuse to give up the Christian core which promises them eternal life.

    So all of a sudden rebirth doesn’t sound so bad, notwithstanding the fact that for most traditional Buddhists that is a curse, not a gift. Nevertheless, we must plead ‘skillful means,’ in order to save the seeker from the grips of false doctrine, whether Muslim or Shaivite, and so admit them into the fold, then work out the details later.

    And in fact a world with no limits is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on unsuspecting adherents to Christianity, Capitalism, and Democracy, but that is our fate, and now we must deal with it. It was instrumental in getting men to the moon, and now we must figure out how to save the earth that they left behind. It created the fires of industry, and now we must figure out how to put the fires out.

    Still the eternalists never give up, assuring us that there are more of us out there somewhere in the Universe, with not one shred of evidence to support it. Like Trumpsters counting votes in absentia, the statisticians count humans by virtue of logic, not math. But the only thing infinite is Emptiness, and that is not the World. That is the possibility that there might be a world.

    Once there actually is a world of perception and cognition and stuff, then it is immediately limited by its very existence and its imminent death. So it is simply better to accept the profound limits of human existence, rather than talk about them, since that might make some people sad, that they may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and so forth, and so on.

    And so it is with control. That implies a limit on freedom, so people don’t want to hear about it. They want to hear that they are the center of the universe, and can do whatever they damn well please, torpedoes be damned at the same time. There’s only one problem: it’s a lie. Limits define us, by definition, and so are profound, and to be embraced, for that is the predestination that is so often secretly desired, almost as much as infinity, the two concepts of which are mutually exclusive, infinity and predestination.

    It’s almost like the Buddhists who believe in reincarnation at the same time that they believe in the present moment. You can’t do that, not without egregious assaults to fundamental logic and basic agreement of terms. And so avoidance of wrong actions is every bit as important as the execution of right actions. And if that is control, then so be it. Truth is more than a balanced equation. It is a balanced life…

     
  • hardie karges 1:25 pm on January 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , disease, , Mayas,   

    Anniversary of a Pandemic… 

    Ever wonder why ancient cities were abandoned and left to fall into ruin? Now you know. Between disease and warfare, the conglomeration of too many people in too small of a space has always been a recipe for disaster. Thus there are very few cities of great antiquity, certainly not in the same place in constant evolution. In the cases where there are ancient cities, the new one is usually far removed from the original site, revealing the disconnect in the process of its evolution, so more of a matter of convenience to re-purpose those environs. In more recent history, in central Europe, especially, new people came to take over old cities, as original populations were forced elsewhere, thus giving the cities a life of their own, apart from the peoples who inhabit them. And you can see this in much of the world, just more noticeable where it happens most frequently. So the old question of “What happened to the Mayas?,” for instance, doesn’t make much sense when you realize that they just left the cities, and not much more. The Mayas are pretty much where they always were, and doing quite well these days, thank you…

     
  • hardie karges 11:27 am on January 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , social   

    Buddhism is a Social Paradigm, too… 

    And it’s a vision of a better world, and that is much the reason I have sworn allegiance to it, for without that social component, the reasons are not nearly so compelling. Because if personal ‘salvation’ is the only desired result, then the methods are many, and the results are uncertain. Who’s to really say if the Buddhist methods of renunciation and meditation are truly better than the Christian methods of passion and forgiveness?

    One advocates a certain withdrawal from the affairs of the world, while the other advocates an ever-increasing involvement, to the point that I’m in yo’ mutha’ f*ckin’ face whether you like it or not, got it? So we disparage one as ‘life-denying’ while praising the other’s adherents as ‘full of life,’ without even the slightest acknowledgement that those ‘full-of-lifers’ are indeed usually the ones destroying the planet.

    The fact that that is not what they intend is superfluous. Intent is only the obsession of those same Christian courts that value remorse and contrition while selling those same guns that make all the forgiveness necessary. A simpler solution might simply be to get our gun jollies and joneses in video games and leave the acts of nature to Nature herself.

    And what’s right for a world of three billion people is not necessarily right for a world of eight billion, and that’s just the changes that have occurred in my lifetime. Should we simply wait with bated breath for each individual to make his peace with his Maker, so that the World can survive, or should responsible governments take it upon themselves to limit activities that threaten to aggravate pressures of over-population and global over-heating?

    Then the freedom-loving rabble will raise hackles at all the supposed shackles that they must endure, without even questioning whether these are freedoms FROM of freedoms TO, as though it’s all the same and freedoms of all sorts and types must by definition be unlimited. But this myth of no limits is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated. Buddhism can help with that.

    America teaches eternal life, endless resources, and unlimited freedoms, i.e. Christianity, Capitalism, and Democracy, all packaged and gift-wrapped in bright colorful ribbons and bows, as if nothing could be more natural or necessary, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Still the package played an important role in the development of human civilization.

    Does anyone really wish that we were stuck in year 1492 with no knowledge of the spectacles that were to come in the ensuing centuries? But how now do we rein in our wildest impulses for the good of the many for the good of the future? Thus the Western mind is better to create civilization, and the eastern mind is better to control it. If the current pandemic taught us nothing it taught us that.

    And the lesson can carry into other areas of social concern, beyond pandemics first, and global warming second, into the trickier and thornier issues of war and violence, and the existential abstractions of personal peace, love and understanding. First we extinguish the fires inside, and then we extinguish the fires outside…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 4:32 pm on January 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      Your final paragraph is a great summation of the problems we face which a Buddhist mindset would help solve. Happy New Year and may it be a beneficial one!

      • hardie karges 6:12 pm on January 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Dave, and a Happy New Year to you, too!

  • hardie karges 10:05 am on December 31, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , Joe Biden, ,   

    New Year 2021: Thank You, Covid-19 (but we really need a Gandhi)… 

    Years come and go. The dharma stays the same…

    Assuming that Joe Biden will eventually win this monster of a 2020 US election, we can only thank one thing: the novel Coronavirus, aka Covid-19. That much is clear. Without it, and DJ Trump’s miserable performance in combatting it, he likely would have won, assuming that everything else remained the same, which is not necessarily the case (but it would have been even closer, if that’s possible)…

    Specifically I’m referring to the massive protests and riots that have accompanied the Black Lives Matter movement, which I fully support, despite the massive looting and violence, which I fully detest, to the point of disgust. I reiterate: that might not have happened, were it not for Covid-19 (lockdown stress disorder?), butterfly effects of Covid-19 yet to be documented… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 10:12 am on December 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhanauts, , Deus Pater, Dyaus Pitr, ,   

    Buddhism and Science: the Middle Path of Enlightenment… 

    The Middle Path is not so hard, but not so easy, either. That’s why it’s called the Middle Path. And if that sounds like a cop-out, an avoidance of decision, well I assure you that it can be much more than that and a metaphysical position in its own right, however sublime and shifting, but not shifty.

    If that sounds a lot like agnosticism, then there’s a reason for that. The best Buddhism is agnostic, IMHO, if not agnosticism itself. The problem of much, if not most religion, is simply that in its desire for certainty, it attaches itself to a position that may become untenable at some point in the future (notice how we say ‘the future’ as if only one were possible).

    But Buddhism does that, too, with varying results, and to the point that much of the Buddha’s original inspiration almost gets lost in the process. That’s because the holy trinity of rebirth, karma, and past lives is such a powerful paradigm, however unsatisfying it may be to a modern science-loving child of the Enlightenment.

    Notice how the term ‘enlightenment’ is used in both Science and Buddhism? But I didn’t say science-believing, now, did I? And that’s the difference, in answer to those who claim that believing in science is just as mistaken as a belief in anything else, because just look at how often science is later found faulty, as a new theory and hypothesis takes precedence.

    Exactly, that is the point. The best science is agnostic, also, and that is not just my opinion; that is definition. Science is a method, not a belief system, and Buddhism can function that way, also. Thus there is something for everybody in Buddhism, gods, hungry ghosts, and multiple levels of Hell for those who need it to stay straight in this life, rebirth in a lesser status for those who need the double dose.

    Still the best face of Buddhism is the recognition that there is suffering in this life and this world, and there is a way to mitigate it. If there is a better life in a better world, then bring it. After all, why would you want eternal life in a substandard existence, except out of fear of the unknown, as the monotheists’ Dyaus Pitr-God the Father-Deus Pater promises? I wouldn’t.

    But that doesn’t mean that I feel resigned to a miserable set of rebirths, either, regardless of my behavior in this one life and one world that I know. I don’t. That’s just another form of fear. The challenge of this life in this world is to explore the unknown and accommodate ourselves to it, without rank nor rancor.

    The innovation that Buddhism makes, long before modern Western psychology, is the recognition of inner space. Astronauts explore Outer Space. Buddhanauts must explore Inner Space, the deep sea, thalay, dalai, a hidden world so close that you can almost touch it. And in there is where many of the secrets to our existence lie…

     
  • hardie karges 11:11 am on December 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: childbirth, feminine, , sacred   

    Sacred Femininity and Magical Childbirth… 

    The feminine was sacred, when populations were smaller, and survival was doubtful. Thus reproduction was divine, and the act of childbirth truly magic. Some have even speculated that the connection between sex and childbirth was unknown until relatively recently, but I doubt that. The causal connections would seem to be too obvious. Likewise the mathematical connection between scarcity of life and the sanctity of life is also obvious, not to mention the role of the primitive mother, who could bear only once every three years, at most, so as not to be burdened with more than she can physically carry. The psychology implications were secondary, and the rise of patriarchy tentative. The biggest cities seem to have the loneliest people…

     
  • hardie karges 1:03 pm on December 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bet, , , , , epistemology, gambling, , , trifecta,   

    Buddhism 201: There are no Winners and Losers… 

    In the best negotiations and most serious debates, everybody should walk away happy. This is the secret to all good dealings, of course, but all too often forgotten, in the rush to seal deals, and replace stocks, and return to life as normal, on the battlefields of commerce and contentment, where the fruits of life are often commodities, and the rewards are consumption, a vaguely full sensation, quickly desiring something more or better, as if there is no balance.

    But balance there must be if happiness is truly our goal, and that is the open secret of the Middle Path, something so simple, and something so sublime, that it is easily overlooked in the rush to judgment and the customary division of spoils among victors. But did the losers really lose, and if so, then what exactly did they lose? And did the winners really win, and if so, then what exactly did they win?

    The short answer is that no one really knows, and so any bettor worth his chips knows that to cover your assets, you hedge your bets, and hopefully cover the spread in the process. Because not only do we never know whether we truly win or lose, but by even less will we know by how much.

    And that balancing act is more than smart business; it is an epistemological reality, if not necessarily a metaphysical one, which it may indeed very well be. And this is the beauty of agnosticism, which is often reduced in value by vague insinuations that it is avoiding a decision by refusing to take sides. But that is one of the fundamental facts of life and the world: absolute knowledge is simply unknowable.

    This becomes a tautology, of course, in the sense that we are claiming to know that unknowability, but that does not diminish its value, no, or at least not by much. We simply cut the conversation short to avoid endless reductions and descensions into a void. Don’t you wish everybody did?

    So Buddhism as a philosophy is fundamentally an open doctrine, even if Buddhism as a religion is saddled with karma, rebirth, and past lives as customary baggage, just as Christianity comes pre-packaged with democracy and capitalism, the trifecta of hedged bets within the trinity of no limits. And that is as much a myth as reincarnation and past lives, though it doesn’t catch so much flack for it by the simple trick of perception bias: we can’t see the forest we live in for all the trees that stand in the way.

    So we assume by instinct that there is an underlying fundamental reality, even if we are hard pressed to say exactly what it is. Somehow some way it simply is, as Nature is, sublime in its silence, commanding in its occasional outbursts. After all, if the lion and the lamb are raised together in the same crib, then any future violence is unlikely. Thus the dharma is simply an admonition to be like that, like nature. You’ll know it when you see it. Mindful silence is better than mindless chatter almost any day.

     
  • hardie karges 11:22 am on December 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , mirrors, , reflected   

    Buddhism in Mirrors Reflected… 

    The past demands no explanation. The future requires no warning. Tame your heart, tame your mind, tame yourself, and tame the world…

     
  • hardie karges 1:04 pm on December 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , conservation, energy, matter,   

    Buddhism and the Laws of Conservation of Energy and Matter… 

    Live simply to simply live. Everything else is excess. But this is the hardest thing for most people to do, because we tend to see our lives as games of addition and subtraction, zero sum, such that our gains come at the expense of others, and there must be someone keeping score somewhere for there to be any playing field to begin with.

    This is a logical fallacy, of course, and the actions of multiplication and division are no better, they the flip sides of each other, just like addition and subtraction, in which to multiply 3 x 4, for instance, is to automatically divide the lot into twelve equal parts, regardless of what the original quantity consisted of, and regardless of any intent, real or supposed.

    But our lives on this planet, in this universe, for all practical purposes must be presumed to be zero sum operations, regardless of the amendments to the law of conservation of mass and energy which are at the heart of classical mechanics and physics. We simply have no other basis on which to proceed. The fallacy lies in the postulation of an all-powerful creator at the center of his creation, manipulating his puppets with heartstrings, no matter that such details are not in evidence.

    But the zero sum holds, unless and until we find something more or better. So we have to assume that all actions are followed by equal and opposite reactions, more classical physics. Thus we are wise not to rush to judgments and short-sighted utilizations of scarce matter and energy, regardless of the fact that, if the system is indeed a closed one, that matter and/or energy is still there, albeit perhaps changed now into a form that makes it much hard to retrieve and re-purpose for other uses.

    For instance: do we really want to burn a piece of wood, resting assured that the molecules still exist somehow somewhere, when the act of burning deprives us of a house and home in the process? Probably not. Thus the forms that matter and energy take are of supreme importance to our old-fashioned lives on this old-fashioned planet, regardless of the quantum effects which may or may not accrue, given the time and resources necessary to process that new information.

    For now we are limited to the systems which define us, five or six senses, a language or our choice, and a system of rational thought that results from these origins. Whatever we use, and effectively change forever, may not be retrievable for future use. Thus it is better to use resources sparingly, lest they be lost to us effectively forever.

    The Christian-Capitalist-Democratic myths of eternal life, resources, and freedoms are simply not backed by empirical observation. Yes, the game is zero-sum, as far as we currently know, in terms of matter and energy, but not ideas. Ideas are empty, and so without limit. Still there are no winners, and there are no losers. This is not a game. We are playing for keeps here.

     
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