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  • hardie karges 11:49 am on October 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, , , , , ,   

    Buddhism and Christianity Occupy Different Realms of the World and Mind.. 

    The best religions unite us. The worst religions divide us. Most do nothing at all—except give a momentary feeling of satisfaction, at a job well done, vindication for following a path, any path, and somehow defining one’s life in the process, even if the changes are subtle.

    We can snicker now at the circumstances surrounding the split between the universal Catholic church of Rome, as it splintered into a thousand Protestant denominations—names—as if, ‘What’s the big deal?’ But at the time it was a very big deal, even if the results and ramifications would not be known for a century or two, just like Athens and Rome before it, and those are the lessons, contained in the names, as each country tries to personify itself in the religion of its choice.

    But one of my favorite themes is that at its origins and Sunday best, a religion should try to change you into something better, so not necessarily what you want to be, but what you should be, as determined by the high priests of your subconscious. But I’m not sure that works. Has Christianity made Europe and America less violent and aggressive? Good question. Has Buddhism made Asia less possessive and grasping? I’m not sure.

    What I am pretty sure of, though, is that it makes us feel better, if only for a day, week, month, or year, and serves as a constant reminder of what we should be doing, even if we fall so unfailingly flat so often. But if our feelings of guilt once pushed us toward religions that chastised us for our failings, now we tend to gravitate toward those that make us feel good in spite of them, best not to even mention them, lest someone should feel a twinge of regret for not doing better.

    So at the same time that we now feel less guilty, our societies and families continue in a downward spiral, those who can’t be bothered to improve themselves, at the cost of a moment’s self-sacrifice. And that is a shame, because instant gratification is a cheap trick at best, and a descent into the abyss at worst. And as it is with Christianity, so it is with Buddhism, and other Eastern religions.

    Buddhism often gets written up as the export version of Hinduism, and if I can’t really agree with that, there is certainly some circumstantial evidence to support it. What is acknowledged less often is the contribution of the resident Jains, who, at the time of the Buddha, were the inspiration of much of the religious seeking, defining and refining that was going on in India at the time of the Buddha, around the mid-millennium before the time of Christ.

    And the same splintering occurred with Buddhism, Hinduism only spared the process, because it was never a doctrine in the first place, and maybe that’s why it was never suitable for export. Ask an Indian. Given sufficient time and circumstances, I think that all religions, despite best original intentions, will devolve into devotion, pure and simple.

    Is that what it takes to unite us? If so, then I suppose the only question is: to what are we devoted? Take your pick. When the world is too cold, warm it with your heart. When the world is too cruel, make it kinder. When you are weary, sleep…

     
  • hardie karges 11:33 am on May 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ahmaud Arbery, , Asia, , , 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 12:50 pm on April 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, , , ,   

    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 3:45 pm on June 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Asia, , , John Stuart Mill,   

    Beware of Buddhist side-effects: Peace, Love, and Understanding… 

    IMG_2290Like a new drug, when trying out a new religion, philosophy or belief system, it’s probably wise to ask about any potential side-effects. Of course sometimes those ‘side-effects’ turn out to be something not anticipated, or imagined, and maybe even far better than what was intended. The history of pharmacopeia is full of such examples, when the ‘side-effects’ of a drug led to new usages that yielded great benefits to the healing processes—and perversions—of human beings..

    This also happens in the case of new ideas. Who knew that John Stuart Mills’ evocation of the ‘invisible hand’ of the marketplace would yield not only an Industrial Revolution of textiles and iron, but a digital revolution of gigabytes and live streaming, the former populated by skyscrapers and fashion, the latter by instant worldwide communication and virtual realities intrinsically internal… (More …)

     
    • quantumpreceptor 3:22 am on June 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Well said my friend, well said. It is really easy to see and to judge whether something is beneficial or not. Plant the seed and watch it grow. If you grow weeds, start again. If you grow flowers and fruit you have really done something.

      QP

    • hardie karges 3:52 am on June 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Exactly, my friend, exactly. Thanks for your kind words…

    • Dave Kingsbury 3:37 pm on June 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      You make a very good case here. And provide a useful, well-balanced summary of the differences:

      “Bottom line: the current outcome of Christianity is chaos, consumption and aggression, even if its best days were all about love, growth, and creativity. On the other hand Buddhism is all about silence, adaptation and harmony, even if the bad old days included much too much renunciation, stasis and denial… ”

      All about outcomes indeed!

  • hardie karges 7:16 am on April 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Asia, , , , , , , , , , Rinzai, , , , ,   

    Buddhism is all about love—sweet dispassionate love… 

    img_1111It has long been predicted that Buddhism’s future is in the West, and for better or worse, that may very well be true. So the question then becomes: what kind of Buddhism would that be? For purposes of dialog and dialectic, I see the two chief protagonists to be the Thai Forest Tradition and Zen, both of which have numerous and faithful adherents in the West, and both of which can claim some purity of faith and doctrine…

    Tibetan Buddhism I imagine has as many or more adherents as either of the above, but is already mixed-and-mashed to the max, so the purity of doctrine is just not there, for better or worse, not to mention modern sex scandals, a dubious devotion to physical reincarnation, and a generation-jumping karma of retribution that just won’t quit. This was the final chapter to a previous crossroads, in Asia, and what worked there, and then, will not likely work here, and now… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:11 am on April 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, , , , , , lila, ,   

    Buddhist Communion in the Land of Big People… 

    IMG_1588The loneliness of travel should be crushing sometimes, but it’s not, not really, and I seem to attract it, by design, as if to do otherwise would mean I’m lazy, and corrupt, too weary in my old age to do the right thing, stay true to my principles, those principles of non-possession, non-attachment and non-consumption…

    Because even though there are no shortage of roadside attractions out there, pubs and clubs and the bestos of restos, that’s not where you’re likely to find me, out hooting and hollering until the sun comes up, as if that were the natural order of the universe, and not its opposite… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 6:08 pm on December 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Asia, , , ,   

    Religion Imitates Art: Christian Self-Love and Buddhist Non-Self… 

    img_0953“Man is the measure of all things”…and there began our downfall, this from the Greek Sophist Protagoras and his very sophisticated argument that we human beings are the only thing that matters in this world, our silly views and opinions superior to all others, of course, by virtue of our virtue, and in spite of our spite, the pathological needs of humanity, a sort of radical solipsistic relativism…

    This argument only works with a strong belief and need for self, arguably the origin of consciousness, i.e. self-consciousness, and any further extrapolations indicative of the direction our culture has taken since then, hence our pathological need for democracy, free enterprise, a TV in every room and a car in every garage, every aspect an extension of, and ultimate belief in ourselves, each one of us totally different, supposedly, with or without the bar-code, identified by fingerprints and the DNA from random salivations and assorted misgivings… (More …)

     
    • davekingsbury 3:05 pm on December 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      It doesn’t take a genius to realize that there is a higher consciousness than self-consciousness, or that there are higher needs than selfish ones…absolutely, the opposite is a horror story!

    • Alexia Adder 12:37 am on January 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      It’s true scientifically speaking that all life on this planet is interdependent. Western philosophy tends to emphasize independence and the self in human society, but in reality this is an illusion. We’re part of the animal kingdom. We’re not above it. We’re subject to it.

      • hardie karges 7:53 am on January 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Yes. I’ve been studying genomics. It’s only logical that if we all have a common human ancestor, then we also have prior animal ones, a path back in time…

  • hardie karges 9:29 am on July 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, , Chinatown, , , , , ,   

    #Facebook #Chinatown: Where ‘Likes’ are the New Currency 

     

    Like Me, Baby...

    Like Me, Baby…

    Strolling through Facebook now is like strolling through Chinatown or along a carnival midway, complete with barkers and colored balloons, signs and advertisements now occupying every available inch of empty space, imperceptibly creeping like Capitalism into our lives and our computers and smart phones like viruses (virii?), the good kind, friendly bacteria that you can live with. In Chinatown there IS no empty space. Social media has degenerated into one big tease: “You won’t believe this!” or “You’ve got to see what happened next!” or “Don’t forget to share.” Likes are the new currency.

    (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:41 am on June 3, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, LEARNING,   

    RACE FOR RELIGION 

    Pidgin English replaces Pidgin Sanskrit and the history of Southeast Asia moves forward into the new millennium. The Indian influence seems as though it were always benign and probably one of the best justifications of India’s reputation as a guru-culture, i.e. a culture of teachers and teachings. It appears that that is exactly what they did in Southeast Asia about two thousand years ago, both as traditional Brahmanists and as the reformers, Buddhists, bringing not only religion, but alphabet and much new vocabulary. But as is always the case, ‘teacher, teach thyself.’ Hinduism in its original form is forever stained by its embrace of the caste system, a polite form of racism. There is always the danger of this in any culture with more than one race, of course, and the religious acceptance of it seems no more than an afterthought to justify what was already the case. While Buddhism never addressed the issue specifically, its lack of a caste system must have made it more attractive, all else being equal. Islam certainly capitalized on the inherent tension in the caste system and complemented it with its simple, but strict, teaching accessible to all, and an army promising plenty of spoils for the victors. To the present day Buddhist temples are centers of learning, if basic, in Southeast Asia and were for a long time almost the only centers. Islamic schools serve much the same function in its sphere of influence. It’s an open question as to why the history of the area is entirely dependent on Chinese annals for chronology and corroboration, given the advanced state of Indian learning and literacy.

     
  • hardie karges 8:57 pm on February 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asia, , Mexixo, NAFTA   

    Afta Nafta the Lafta 

    Well, maybe.  But say what you want about FTA’s, Mexico’s changed a lot since the old days, and has closed much of the gap separating it from the first-world living standards of the US.  In the old days, at least right after the first major currency devaluation around 1980, you could get a room for a few bucks, private with running water, no pissing in the sink or anything like that.  Then it became hard to know whether inflation was causing devaluation or devaluation was causing inflation.  Mexicans are gougers at retail, probably a vestige of the monopolistic past.  If a merchant in Mexico wants more income, the method is simple: raise prices.  Being a part of an economic entity now with the US seems to stabilize all that.  If Mexican businesses aren’t competitive, then US companies will drive them out.  Latin American airlines have been decimated since US airlines moved in, though the same US airlines struggle to compete in the Asia market, where companies are nothing if not competitive.  The world is ruled by those who know how to hold money without spending it.  They’re the masters.  The slaves are those who spend every penny they get.  This distinction is without race or class and, in fact, promotes class mobility.  That’s all it takes to be in business, really.  My friends are of both types.  Though saving money is a traditional American virtue, it is somewhat eclipsed these days.  Chinese are good at it; Thais are not.  Ethnic Chinese rule Thailand, and always have.  What would Thailand be without Chinese businessmen?  Laos.  Ditto for Malaysia, Burma, Indonesia, Philippines, and others.  Southeast Asia without Chinese businessmen would still be a village-oriented society, which would be nice, but probably untenable.                

     
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