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

    The Role of Thought in Buddhism… 

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

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

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

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

  • hardie karges 10:25 am on July 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Aristotle, Brahmanists, , , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism is a World of Feeling, Thoughts Optional 

    Be kind to humans and other sentient beings, even when they are obnoxious, egotistic, pompous, and overbearing. And this is a tough row to hoe in the age of social media, I know, but that makes it even more important, doesn’t it? I think so. Because the pressure in this social media age for anyone who wants to be an ‘influencer,’ is to crack wise first, and smooth hard feelings later, if ever. But that’s not the correct order of things, I don’t think, not these days or ever.

    Because we are all ‘influencers,’ to some extent or other, but if we’re all sticking our egos in everyone’s faces all the time, then who is left to bear witness? So, we all have a stake in this game, regardless of whether we’re professional or not, because those lines are becoming blurred—at best. This is nothing if not a world of feeling, and I think that’s how Buddhism best makes sense. Because there was no world of reason back then, much less science, even if the Buddha was aware of the power of reason and tried to incorporate it into his practice.

    But reason at its best requires inscrutable logic, and the Indian tetralemma, in Greek, or catuhskoti, in Sanskrit, was far from perfect, and violated the Law of the Excluded Middle of Aristotelian logic, more familiar to our Western thought. But the Indian choices of ‘This,’ ‘That,’ ‘All of the above’ or ‘None of the above’ might ironically have led to the Buddha’s famous Middle Path, which Greek logic only approached with a roundabout dialectical synthesis that came much later.

    There’s more to life than logic, though, of course, and a close examination shows a classical Indian world-view heavily based on feeling and introspection, the deeper the better for the really big questions. That’s the world that the Buddha was raised in, and that was his method by trade, as prophet to the ages. When in doubt, think it out. Though many modern non-dualists may deny that the Buddha ever really intended anything, much less own his thoughts, I think it’s safe to say that he certainly did.

    If the Buddha’s thoughts had had no thinker, then I doubt we’d have Four Noble Truths and twice that number of folds and twists to our middle path of salvation, as defined by the cessation of suffering, at least partially, if never quite total. In every case, too, it’s a world of feeling and perception that is described, defined by name and form, and articulated by consciousness. The Brahmins and Brahmanists saw a world of Cosmic self in union with Brahma. The Buddha begged to differ. That’s the world he lived in, and that’s the world that he bequeathed to us.

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