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  • hardie karges 11:28 am on May 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhist, , , ,   

    Money and other Buddhist Sins of Commission… 

    Attachment to money is the worst form of craving, because, as a medium of exchange, it is something totally false, mere paper, typically folded and mutilated, if not spindled, simply because no one knows what that means.

    And if I launch into a sermon on the use of punch cards, you still might not know much more unless you voted in the US twenty years ago, and still remember it. But what we really love are the numbers, anything more than zero considered a plus, by definition, and anything less subject to penalties, typically the sins of omission more than the sins of commission, because you really don’t have to do anything to suffer, or cause others to suffer, given the time dimension, and the fact that results and effects are often delayed far from the source of the original action, or karma, if you prefer.

    Conversely, the less you do, than the fewer sins you commit, but if you do too little, then you may indeed starve, and if you fail to help another in need, then you may indeed be a direct cause of their suffering, even if you weren’t a direct cause of their pain.

    So life has always been a search for sustenance, from the semi-tropical Garden of Eden, where fruit hung ripe from the trees, to the far northern steppes, where the big game ran wild and the satisfaction ran deep as the snowbank you could use to keep that slab of meat cool for a while.

    So how did the big game get transformed into roulette wheels and lotteries and one-armed bandits, slot machines with no feelings nor dogs in the hunt? That is the history of the world, my friends, the transfer of feeling from fields to factories, by hook or crook, since it wasn’t always voluntary, least of all in the place of its origins, as the British Enclosure Acts claimed common grounds for capitalists, and sent crofters to the Commonwealth countries or factories, often with no other choice, as is typical in a class system based on caste, even where much of the deep ancestry is similar or even the same.

    But cities are the same regardless of their location or countries of origin, and money is their common denominator, 0’s and 1’s in the ledger book of life. And dharma is the same, also, the truth of human circumstances and interactions and their repercussions across time and space. The medium used for commercial transactions is not the medium of human interaction, though the Middle Path may sound similar. It is not.

    Money is superfluous, and best kept hidden. To flaunt it is to worship it, and a cardinal sin of commission, an insult to polite society. There is a reason that Buddhist monks in Thailand are forbidden to touch it. We’re playing for keeps here, not possession, but forever, always changing…

     
    • Alexis Adder 3:44 pm on May 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      They turned money into a cult and forced everyone into needing it all thr time.

      • hardie karges 3:50 pm on May 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, it’s quite the conundrum: can’t live with it, and can’t live without it. I think the main thing is not to be obsessed with it, so neither broke nor gambler, so as to think of it as little as possible…

    • Dave Kingsbury 4:19 pm on May 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I like to count mine every day. It doesn’t take long … 🙂

      • hardie karges 4:22 pm on May 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        I know the feeling…

  • hardie karges 11:33 am on May 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ahmaud Arbery, , , , , Homer, Iliad, ,   

    Karma, Buddhism, Newton, Homer, and Ahmaud… 

    Law of Karma (action) = Newton’s Third Law of Motion: Every action is followed by an equal but opposite reaction, which is pretty easy to understand, and even if it can’t foresee the further ramifications of quantum theory, it still applies in most cases.

    But the religionists couldn’t leave well enough alone, so rather than being content to foresee what Newton would take credit for some 2500 years in the future, they had to go and ‘religio-fy’ it with fear and loathing and generation-jumping superpowers such that a theory of mind that foresaw a theory of physics ends up not even with some valid psychology, but instead a religion of vengeance.

    For many people in this round-ish world of almost 8B truly believe that if they do something wrong, as defined by tradition, then they will be hunted down and threatened with retribution like Ahmaud Arbery in Redneck County, Georgia, and forced to either submit to summary non-justice on suburban streets or fight for their lives like a fox in the hunt.

    But Karma doesn’t usually take such an active role, truth be told, and generally comes only into play as retrofit logic, i.e. if your life has difficulties, then it must be from something you did several generations back, passive voice past subjunctive, and then you just keep filling holes trying to back-fill the logic, rather than take a more active role in trying to subdue your oppressors and thereby prevent further abuses to improve your life.

    Because if a young girl is raped, then she is certainly not the cause, in this life or previous, but the victim, though I have heard a Buddhist monk accuse her exactly of that. But this is a perversion of Buddhism, a dive into superstitions and perverted logic, all for the sake of laziness and fear, to deal with a situation almost too difficult to bear. But bear it we must, if our lives are to have meaning, and the world is to serve our purposes rather than we serve its.

    As always I choose the middle path. My potential Asian Buddhist PhD professor insists that I use passive voice almost exclusively while my potential American literary agent insists that I never do that. But is it not the same language and is it not the same life in the same world? It is, and the call to action—or not—resides within the halls of this hollowed if not hallowed brain, defined equally by emptiness and thing-ness.

    Because Homer proved this point also 2500 years ago with his Iliad in which the protagonists and the antagonists resided only a short 300km/200mi apart, but divided by the Aegean Sea and 1000 years, since they both left the Aryan steppes in search of greener pastures and more fertile valleys, but by different routes, such that this minor sea defines the major gulf that separates Indo from Euro in each of our bicameral minds.

    So House fights Senate and Dems fight Repugs, but really we are all fighting ourselves inside, if not outside, as our random tendencies fight for supremacy, and good struggles against evil. But this is no time for fighting, as worlds lie dying and hospitals are full to overflowing. Now would be a good time to practice some kindness and compassion, and that is the true meaning of Buddhism…

     
  • hardie karges 11:21 am on May 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Buddhism, Nature, and the Middle Path between Religions… 

    Nature is not something to be conquered. It is something to be revered. This is the basis for most feminine religions, without sword and without a book, just the smooth rounded edges of nature’s leaves and branches, hardened by brute experience with that same Nature’s lightning and thunder.

    Eventually that religion typically may evolve into a form of devotion, ‘bhakti’ for Hinduism, or one of the later sects for Buddhism, because few of us are really made for the rigors of metaphysics, when it’s easier just to bow the head and utter some formulas, or simply swear allegiance to mother Maria.

    And many Buddhists would gladly turn Descartes on his head and proclaim ‘non cogito ergo sum’, ‘I don’t think, therefore I am’, as many a devoted Theravadin truly believes, but which I take exception to. I’m just not that kind of Buddhist, I guess, for better or worse, confused or whatever, and I don’t for one minute think that Buddhism is better than all the others, simply that Buddhism is what is right for these times.

    That’s because I don’t see Buddhism as something established by some transcendental Buddha to which the earthly blokes are mere manifestations, any more than I see Jesus as a Christian version of the same thing, the Platonic ideal of love and forgiveness, Buddha that of compassion and forbearance. Because they were both just blokes, however enlightened, but with differences that have defined East and West at least since Homer’s recall, and likely before.

    So I see Christianity as the active aggressive alternative, dominated mostly by men of Aryan provenance, and despite their brutality, to see what could be accomplished in the state of Nature was a Noble (hint hint) quest, free enterprise, laissez-faire and all that rap, late nights with bright lights a reasonable relax.

    The Jains were, and are, just the opposite, of course, in which the less you do the better, to the point that death by self-starvation (ever heard of inanition?) seems only logical in the quest to do no harm. Just do nothing at all. The Buddhists have tried to walk the middle path to relative success, but still there are those who lapse into the do-it-all or do-nothing extremes.

    Bottom line: the Christian Capitalists have definitively gone too far, to the extent that we are killing ourselves knowing and willingly, grinning like Cheshire cats while going over the cliff, just like the Jains in spirit, if not letter, blindly proceeding with disaster. I revert to the demands of Nature. There is always a path to (re)conciliation, and that is THE path, I would say…

     
  • hardie karges 3:59 pm on May 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Pandemic,   

    Pandemics, Politics, Global Warming, DNA and DJT… 

    I don’t often write about politics nor pandemics, not because I don’t care, or that I have no interest, but because I have other greater interests, and politics have no easy solutions—and many commentators. But there are meta-theses to this pandemic that are not being discusses by anyone, and so that’s why I feel compelled to comment. The first issue is easy, the treachery of the US government in dealing with this natural disaster, not to be confused with incompetence, which is the normal modus operandi of the Trump administration. But to send people to their probable deaths in uncertain circumstances, when such deaths could be easily prevented, is not just murder. It is genocide, of the genus poverty, thus the annihilation of one class by another higher one. This could be easily prevented by the economic support of those people, from the taxes that they have paid, the same as is done for the corporate entities which are sacred to the US capitalist system, and which all Western European countries are doing for their people.

    (More …)
     
  • hardie karges 11:59 am on May 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , female, male, ,   

    Religion and Philosophy, Male and Female, Christianity and Buddhism… 

    Most people don’t want the truth. They want false hopes and fantasy, pie in the sky, with whipped cream and a cherry on top. And this is the basis for much, if not most, religion, the deferred gratification, since the rewards on this flat earth were so few and far between, and best found in something hard and sharp like the point of a knife or gun than in something round and soft like you-know-what.

    And that passed for cultural evolution at the time, that big men could lord it all over the rest of us, especially women, with their long pointy things and their never-ending greed for things they shouldn’t have, like gold and guns, while the rest of us made do with gardens and guilds, the society of friends and the abundance of greens, ripe for the taking in manicured rows, fruits to come later with buttons and bows.

    The goddesses ruled for such a short time, only long enough to populate this earth, before the seeds rebelled against the mother and the pistols attacked the pistils, stamens with limited stamina jealous of the good-natured receptionist who is open to all comers, irrespective of race or religion, and no need of too-flowery introductions, just a future of forgiveness with the calling card of compassion.

    But that’s not good enough for weekend warriors and wicked messengers, looking to spread their hatred with their seed and steed, incubating hatred with each thrust of a sword and each word of a book, forcing the forlorn to bow to such rude entreaties, when a simple request might easily suffice.

    But most men instinctively know that they are not needed, though they’d never admit it, just one or two for breeding purposes should be plenty, and the rest are best kept as mute slaves or blind poets, philosophers and freedmen by application and approval only. Religion goes bad in the hands of warriors, like milk goes bad when allowed too long outside.

    There have been countless wars of religion, therefore, and no wars of philosophy ever, not even one, but who’s counting? Because the world is round now, not flat or square, like stupas, not steeples, Buddhist not Vedic, or God forbid Christian.

    That religion is male, the sword and the book, but philosophy is female, the reconciliation of opposites, with words stroked not stoked. Philosophy is based on freedom, within limits, of biology and psychology. Religion is based on fear.

     
    • Yetzer Hara 1:15 pm on May 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I’ll say that Judaism and Islam are Torah Observant, Hebraic religions. Christianity however is an effeminate religion that emasculates the Godhead and is Hellenic in nature and origin. In fact the Roman Church elevates the Virgin above the Godhead making the Goddess superior.

      • hardie karges 1:20 pm on May 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Christianity is also Hebraic, same God, same history, even if Roman Catholicism may indeed have its feminine side with the Virgin Mary. Protestantism definitely goes back to the original masculine orientation…

        • Yetzer Hara 1:26 pm on May 3, 2020 Permalink

          Rome after conquering a nation incorporated the religion of that nation into the Imperial Roman cult. The invention of Paul of Tarsus, the bastardization of the Torah with the Septuagint, formed Christianity, a Greek/Hellenic religion, not a Hebraic religion. There is no confusion between the two modes of thought!

  • hardie karges 12:50 pm on April 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Religion Up for Grabs: Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism… 

    The wise person knows his limits. The foolish person assumes there are none. And this is fundamental, the limits at least as much as the freedoms, to which we are so attached as Westerners, raised on revolution, and carrying flags to prove it, standing our ground, even when that ground is shifting constantly.

    We are attracted to belief systems that reinforce our prejudices, rather than the ones that would teach us something new and different and broaden our horizons beyond that line that separates us from the rest of humanity who we spend our lives dismissing as worthless.

    We are taught to exert ourselves, as if our prejudice must be correct, rather than to embrace something other, which may or may not be, all for the privilege of feeling those same old emotions which always evoke such a rapture of righteousness, when captured within a context of confusion, truth and honesty measured by emotional resonance rather than the logical placement order of propositions.

    But the best religions teach us what we need to know, and practice, not what we know and do already, often to an absurd extent, to the point that it does only harm, no good. Thus future Christians were taught love as remedy for their previous existence as steppes warriors, in the hope that they (we) would cease the racist violence in the hope of a better future.

    And future Muslims were taught to surrender, to God, in the hope that they would lose that chip on the shoulder and be less obsessed with futile victory, and maybe even cease the sexist subjugation, if only the women would hide behind veils.

    And Asians were taught Buddhist non-possession and non-grasping in the hopes that they would quit counting money and start counting time, better spent in contemplation than the great poker game of life. And how is that working out for us all? Has anybody really learned anything? We have to learn that which is hardest, not that which is easiest. I hope that I am wrong about the future of this world. I like being wrong sometimes. When you see a path with heart, you take it. The next revolution will be internal, a revolution of thought…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 4:03 pm on May 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t think you are wrong about the future of the world, Hardie, but there is surely some compensation in knowing why it’s not going well. I think much of the grasping is for a security blanket, something unhappy people seem to need from early on …

      • hardie karges 4:36 pm on May 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, that sounds about right. Thanks for your comments, Dave…

        • Dave Kingsbury 4:46 pm on May 1, 2020 Permalink

          Should have said, your post gives the reasons it’s not going well, I just added a psychological observation. 🙂

  • hardie karges 9:31 am on April 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , First Noble Truth,   

    Buddhism During a Crisis, Coronavirus Redux… 

    Nothing better illustrates the Buddhist First Truth of suffering than the Coronavirus, proclaimed as novel, but I’m not so sure. Because nothing is truly novel in the realm of suffering, especially when delivered by the sneaky intercessions of a virus. Somebody once said that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional, though it wasn’t Buddha who said that, however congruent with his teachings it may or may not be. No, the Buddha was pretty clear about the inevitability of suffering, and the Eight-Step program to its mitigation, and hopefully cure. Now if there’s a difference in meaning between pain and suffering, then it’s the difference between looking and seeing, listening and hearing, touching and feeling, in that one verb is transitive, affecting objects, while the other is intransitive, something felt, so more than simple observation of another.

    But my point is that Buddhism can help, in times like these, by simply acknowledging the normalcy of suffering, if nothing else. I suspect that many Westerners accustomed to amusement parks and weekend larks will have a much harder time of it than some Orientals accustomed to struggle. After all, you don’t see Asians serenading each other in captivity, now, do you? And if the Western commitment to ‘never change our way of life’ is charming, in a way, then in another way, it’s rather discouraging. This IS a good time for paradigm shifts, I’d say. Because mostly this is a psychological shock, more than medical, economic, or even ecological. Most Westerners are accustomed, even taught, to control Nature, reign her in, to do our bidding, and the idea that She is there as something to be awed and revered, is rather secondary. I mean sure, we go visit national parks and snap our pics, but as often as not we’re snapping pics of each other, and God knows, our selfies.

    Most of all, though, we’ve just never been taught to look inward, and those introverts among us tend to be categorized as ‘losers’ by the type-A bullies who think that aggression comes first, then questions come later, if ever. So I don’t see the Coronavirus as a death sentence, but just the opposite, in fact, an opportunity to make some necessary changes socially and ecologically, perhaps first and most important, but also personally, mostly within the theme of ‘less is more’, simple pleasures, and a shift away from consumption toward contemplation. For now, though, the bottom line is all about control, self-control, preferably. Because I don’t think it’s any accident that the countries hardest hit are those that are the most freedom-obsessive, and the countries doing best are those most controlled. But I prefer the self-control of the Buddhist countries over the government control of the ex-Communist countries of East Europe and elsewhere. So for us it’s a bittersweet victory, but for Nature it’s jubilant. Global Warming lost a battle this year…

     
  • hardie karges 12:18 pm on April 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , maitri, , Mithra, , ,   

    Buddhism and the Personal Peace Initiative… 

    Don’t take the bait. Let the other guy have the last word. Someone has to be the adult in the room in this world or there’ll be none, adults that is, since I think that we can assume that there is a room, by prior agreement, and our common consensus that the material world exists to at least an extent that we can talk about it, even if those illusions of solidity quickly vanish with increased scrutiny. Because the infinite divisibility of matter is as inscrutable as the infinite extension of the universe, and as unlikely as true love, in the sense of ultimate compatibility, beyond all causes and conditions, not to be confused with lovingkindness, simple friendship or universal brotherhood, however you want to define the Sanskrit or Pali terms ‘metta’ and ‘maitri’, notwithstanding all the mutations and peregrinations that the Iranian god Mithra made in transforming himself from a god of light into a Roman god of war, thus the very opposite of the Buddhist intent. And such is the world, fidgeting and finagling, hungering and thirsting for something more, if not always something other, the family familiar usually preferred to the altogether other, for reasons of convenience, if not comfort, and seldom better. For the world grows smaller to the same degree that it grows more violent, the need for living room in conflict with the need for living rooms, possession and aggression up against compassion and dispassion, so we gather up our rocks and put them in hard places, all ready for battle, rather than find peace within ourselves, and then extend it to others. There is a way out, and a way forward, but the answer is too simple for many men to accept: lay down your arms and rest your legs. Mind your tongues and mind your manners. For a war with guns is never really won, and a war of words is no better. Choose peace, and quiet, and reconciliation…

     
  • hardie karges 12:03 pm on April 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Christ, cross, crucifixion, , ,   

    The Passion of Buddha, without Cross or Crucifixion… 

    The word ‘passion’ originally meant ‘suffering’, as all Christians know from the ‘passion of Christ’ as he carried his crushing cross, through city streets, over hill and dale, only to be prodded with prejudice if he ever stumbled or faltered in the march to his death, so hardly a date of determination, but more like a date with destiny. So this is a far cry, literally, from the connotations of the word today, which reek of romance and resonate of reconciliation, between the lover and his beloved, if not necessarily the artist and his creation. And this is the connection between the modern and ancient meanings, for we all know of the artist ‘who suffers for his art’ if we know any artists at all, for in this sublime effort the love and the suffering truly become one with each other, regardless of the outcome, regardless of the tape’s tale, or the yardstick’s measure, or the ruler’s final judgment. And these subtle changes in definition, the limitations and exaltations which words place upon words, speak volumes for the masses gathered for Sunday proclamations, Luthers and Lotharios both left in the lurch at the church, and uninspired by last confessions. Because those subtle but persistent shifts in verbal definition send shock waves and random repercussions through the centuries of silence between outbreaks of truth and necessity, such that sometimes only chaos and confusion result from original best intentions, regardless of the incremental diminution of disbelief. But the real reconciliation between passionate love and suffering comes in the fruit of their union, i.e. compassion, suffering together, for the benefit of all, and the mitigation of excess, in hopes of a better day, a better way, a better outlook for our grief, and a better outlet for our creativity. And this is what concerns us as Buddhists. For words once spoken cannot be taken back. And hearts twice broken will never again be taken aback. We can only mitigate the effects, and bandage the wounds with kindness…

     
  • hardie karges 11:35 am on March 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Corona, , , , ,   

    Buddhism in Viral Times, Reflections from Coronas… 

    Live every moment as if it might be your last, in quiet peaceful reflection, like water. And if this virus has anything to teach us, which I believe it does, then this is certainly one of them, that panic is counter-productive, just as superficial excitement is ephemeral and fleeting, transient by nature. That concept gets a bum rap from social conventions, of course, in Buddha’s time, as well as our own, that anything temporary is by definition flawed and conducive to suffering. The implication, quite naturally, is that permanence is the desired state and condition of nature, and by extension—matter. Extensions fall flat, though, because that would be something like a false equivalency, when the truth lies in the very nature of our medium of discourse. Communication by language does not create castles in the countryside, but only in the sand. Everything is subject to its limits. Just as the painted picture creates fine lines and eye candy, and song produces sweet sounds and ear candy, language is limited to just that, great thoughts and mind candy, but not reality. We can create our reality to some extent, true, especially if that reality is kindness and compassion, but we can’t create the universal laws of physics, except in that they are a representation of nature, as universally perceived. And it is our task to find our place in that nature, but not to control it, for our own selfish benefits. Because this is false permanence, the permanence of possession and ownership, when that is beyond our capabilities, as transient tenants upon this semi-solid rock in motion around a flaming solar orb, ten thousand light-years from home, and another ten from our destination. In order to get the right answers to the questions of our lives, then we must ask the right questions. Religion should not be a matter of blind faith and fear. It should be a matter of knowledge, freedom and self-control…

     
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