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  • hardie karges 12:00 pm on December 2, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ahimsa, , , , , , , 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 1:03 pm on August 28, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ahimsa, , , , , , , , Three Marks of Existence   

    Buddhism 202: Happiness Sandwiches, with Something in the Middle… 

    If you’re looking for bliss, then you may be disappointed. Happiness for me is the reduction, and hopefully cessation, of suffering. Anything else is icing on the cake. Count your blessings. In other words, bliss is optional and perhaps not even desirable. After all, when your psychological pendulum swings too far in one direction, isn’t it bound to swing back to the other with equal force? It’s very likely. And isn’t bliss an extreme emotion to begin with, tongue flagging and tail wagging, like a dog with a fresh bone, until it’s suddenly all gone?

    And that’s the problem, isn’t it, that extremes usually never cease rebounding in search of their opposites, in ever-widening arcs, never satisfied and never at rest?  It certainly seems that way, the curse of consciousness, chasing its own tail in a race to the finish. When we’re hot, we want cold. When we’re cold we want warmth. At what point do we get to enjoy our happiness? There’s no time like the present of course, and anything else is probably BS.

    And this goes right to the heart of Buddhism, the middle path, but not necessarily The Middle Path, between luxury and lack, or Existence and Non-existence, but any middle path, between any two sets of opposites, for which the middle is almost always the best option, that notion of balance and equilibrium always desirable, even if the word ‘compromise’ doesn’t suit you, with the notion that maybe it’s a cop-out. It’s not.

    It suits me just fine, and I think it should probably be enshrined as an important addendum to the main body of Buddhism, which includes the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold path, and the Three Marks of Existence, especially non-self anatta. Then there’s ahimsa, non-violence, though not necessarily non-action. That sounds like the perfect balance between violence and passivity. So, this notion of balance, little brother to the Middle Path, works almost every time, and should get the attention and credit that it deserves. Try it. You’ll probably like it.

     
  • hardie karges 11:36 am on June 26, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ahimsa, , , non-aggression   

    Buddhism and Peak Emotion: Chill, dude… 

    If suffering is the reality that Buddhism acknowledges, then non-aggression is the response to that reality, and most difficult. But that is what we must do. And that is the essence of Buddhism, non-aggression by design and intent. The irony, of course, is that that doesn’t require one to DO much of anything at all. Of much greater importance is what you NOT do…

    Do NOT take the bait when somebody on Facebook forces you into denying something that you never really asserted—or at least never intended to assert—in the first place. Do NOT respond for the fifth time to some debatable thesis to which you’ve already responded—identically—four times previously (actual numbers may vary). Do NOT get angry about something that makes no difference to anyone in the first place.

    Given that anger, or maybe at least a certain form of it, may indeed be necessary when someone’s life or livelihood is in actual danger, ferchissakes don’t waste the precious emotion over the price of rice in China, or the price of gas in Flagstaff. Yes, emotion should be a precious commodity, to be doled out judiciously and with mindfulness aforethought, not something to be tossed around willy-nilly like so many wedding invitations from a bride or groom who really only want the registry gifts.

    But this is the hardest thing for a Western Buddhist to learn, that emotion is something to be avoided, and not encouraged. Defendants in western courts, after all, are expected to ‘show remorse’ and not just prove intent. So, it’s not a bad little trick to learn, TBH, because it might save you some time or some bucks, should you ever need to make amends for your wrongdoings.

    But it will score you few or no points in Buddhism, where actions (karma) speak louder than words—or tears. So, the Japanese PM gets little recognition for multiple apologies for Japanese behavior in WWII, while the German PM wins the prize for Best Actor for dropping on to his knees at Auschwitz and crying profusely. It’s the dangedest thang. But that’s what we’re taught in photography class: go for the peak emotion! And so that’s what we do. And history bears witness to it all…

     
  • hardie karges 9:38 am on July 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ahimsa, , Bedouin, , , , , ,   

    Buddhism and the Principle of Ahimsa—Non-Violence… 

    If violence is the answer, then we’re asking the wrong questions. That should be the simplest lesson of all to learn in life, for any human with the capabilities of reason—but it’s not. This is a lesson that we must learn continuously, over and over and over, not to resort to violence when confronted with a confrontational attitude, and not to ‘take the bait’ when offered, because it will surely lead to no good end. ‘Taking the bait,’ of course, is a response to a form of provocation which pretends to be harmless, but which is designed specifically to evoke a response, often negative.

    So violence is more than an act. It’s an attitude, and it often has nothing to do with physical violence, but still it’s violence—mental violence? Spiritual? Psychological? Yes, all that and more. Because once it infects your mental state, then the harm is already done. That’s the trauma. Any physical distress is almost superfluous unless it’s lasting. But physical pain is only real when you are in it, and so is difficult to describe. Death is the ultimate act of violence, of course, and the highest sin in any and all religions—Buddhism included. If you can’t resolve your differences with someone without killing them, then we are indeed a sorry species—at best.

    (More …)
     
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