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  • hardie karges 12:04 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , bicameralism, Buddhism, , , , , ,   

    Buddhism and the Bicameral Mind: License or Liberation? 

    True freedom is not license. True freedom is liberation. And if that at first glance sounds like some little word game that a poor man’s Alan Watts might play, on further notice, in fact it reveals a fundamental difference between ‘mind-sets,’ if not belief systems. For it is more than just the difference in a couple of letters that define the difference between the words ‘from’ and ‘to.’ It is indeed a world of difference, not just the difference between East and West, Buddhism and Christianity, but possibly—and ultimately—the difference between the right and left sides of the brain.

    According to the American Psychological Association: “The terms “left-brained” and “right-brained” have come to refer to personality types in popular culture, with an assumption that people who use the right side of their brains more are more creative, thoughtful and subjective, while those who tap the left side more are more logical, detail-oriented and analytical.”

    And then they go on to pooh-pooh that notion while at the same time admitting that “Language tends to be on the left, attention more on the right.” So how would you know, anyway, whether a person is one or the other? This is the big clue: Right-brained people are left-handed and vice versa. Boom. Hopefully those of us who are ambidextrous, Geminis, or at least switch-hitters can maybe find work as a Jack-of-all-trades, if not a Jill-of-one-special-one.

    But the point is that we’re talking about two different kinds of freedom when we talk about the freedom ‘from’ as opposed to the freedom ‘to’. The one is liberation, while the other is license. One is the traditional goal of all Eastern philosophy, while the other is the traditional goal of all Western philosophy. One allows you to gloriously do nothing, since you are now free of those prior obligations that demanded something of you.

    The other implies that you really should do something, regardless, not just that you have the right to, but in fact almost an obligation to act upon Nature, rather than just passively accept it. One is Buddhist, while the other is Christianity, which thought has largely dominated the modern world of technology and skyscrapers and restless hearts and minds.

    But now we know definitively, by genome analysis, that those early Indian Buddhists and those early Roman Christians were in fact not-so-distant cousins of the same original fathers, if not mothers. And both had their dealings with Greeks, bearing gifts or not. Does that mean that indeed these are possibly the differences of left-brain and right-brain, according to two different given sets of circumstances?

    If so, then we can access our right-brain Buddhist feminine capabilities to undo the damage that our left-brain Christian Capitalist macho tendencies have foisted upon us, understandable given a young world feeling its teenage oats for the first time, my version of racehorse theory. Nirvana is freedom. Freedom has responsibilities. So now we have come full circle…

     
    • TheFlowIntoWords 1:33 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting topic! I loved Julian Jaynes book “Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind”.

      From my limited understanding, I see Buddhism as opening our eyes to the freedom we have from the “need” to do anything. This gives us a grasp of free-will. No longer is it I “must”/“need” to do X.

      For me Christianity sort of stepped into that newly opened space. Jesus’s teachings on radical love are beautiful to me. They are helping me see the beauty I “want” to grow and nourish in myself, others, and the world. I no longer feel I need to or should be doing anything in particular. I feel I am finally free to see the deep beauty of everything. And free to follow what the beauty inspires within me because I want to.

      • hardie karges 1:47 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, I read Jaynes’ book way back when, and liked it, though this scrib is a different take, of course. Life and the world are beautiful, per Jesus, but they are suffering, per the Buddha. Who is right? They both are, I suppose, though we will all die, no eternal life, so I am Buddhist, not Christian. But I like the dialectic between the two, so utilize it often. Christianity was right for its time. Buddhism is right for these times IMHO. Christianity’s capitalist conquest mentality gives us global warming, so that is not sustainable. Eventually I think we will achieve a successful mix of the two, hopefully without another pandemic. Thanks for your comments…

        • TheFlowIntoWords 2:40 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink

          I also suspect we will achieve a successful mix of the two one day. Both have such deep wisdom to offer.

        • hardie karges 2:41 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink

          Yes, I agree…

    • Dylan Raines 11:01 pm on October 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Wonderful thoughts. I see true freedom as being something which produces the qualities of compassion, generosity, contentment, peace, etc. The freedom simply to do anything without consequence is a freedom that usually has some fear attached with it. I think the more we allow people to be free, letting go of attempting to control others, the more we capable of encouraging one another to move into a place of true freedom.

      • hardie karges 8:38 am on October 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Sounds good to me. Thanks for your comments…

  • hardie karges 12:12 pm on October 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Aramaic, , Brahmi, Buddhism, Devanagari, Dorian, Kharosthi, , , rishis, Spartan, sramanas   

    Buddhism, Racism, and the Middle Path of History… 

    The purpose of knowledge is to ease suffering, not to lord it over others. When knowledge becomes a tool, then we have a problem that we need to deal with. And we do—have a problem that we need to deal with. You can call it racism, or nationalism, or simply false pride, but there it is, the fact that some people think that they are better than others, and intend to enforce that distinction, while providing sometimes elaborate proofs for its justification.

    More often than not, though, the self-described cognoscenti think they can simply look at someone and deep secrets are somehow revealed, as a flight hostess once explained to me that they are taught to simply look at someone and know what language they speak. Must be nice. But it’s not. It’s cheating, cheating life, and cheating oneself.

    I wondered for a long time, still do, why the Brahmin class of India refused to use written language, long long long, 1000 years, after their counterparts elsewhere were scribbling, scribing, and describing events in the Semitic alphabets that would become the world standard everywhere, except China, Korea, and related countries.

    Meanwhile those Aryans-become-Brahmins only reluctantly acquiesced to allow their divine sacred Sanskrit to be submitted to the little graphs and symbols that constitute written language. They gave many rishis and sramanas their lay-off notices, too, since their services would no longer be required to painstakingly memorize the sacred Vedas, arguably one of the finest pieces of literature ever composed—composed, mind you, but not written.

    That only occurred with the invention of the Devanagari alphabet in the first half of the first millennium CE, and in full use by the 7th century. Until then they had to make do with the rustic Brahmi alphabet, which only came into existence in the last half of the first millennium BCE. By then the Buddhist monkhood was well established, and not subject to the vicissitudes of language.

    King Ashoka at around year 250 BCE used not only Brahmi and Kharosthi, modeled on Aramaic, but Greek and Aramaic itself to inscribe his famous inscriptions—in rock. Still the question remains: why the 1000-year wait? The clue finally came with the example of their long-lost cousins and like-minded Dorians of ancient Greece.

    In the process of becoming the legendary hard-ass Spartans of history, they enslaved many a Minoan along the way, and—drum roll here, please—deliberately denied them education, much like the even-more-distant Mississippi rednecks did to their slaves (author’s note: I’m from Mississippi, but hopefully not redneck). Bingo! It all makes sense now.

    The Brahmin-dominated caste system of Indian depends on holding their ‘lessers’ down (notably darker-skinned and of other origins, well-documented by y-DNA), by denying them the education which preserves Brahmin power. Buddhism rejected all that, though they were still long subject to its ramifications. Despite the current political turmoil, still life is better than it once was, and the message is clear. You can learn from the Buddha or you can learn from a virus. The message is largely the same: Do no harm…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 12:09 pm on October 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting history here! Knowledge is power, they say, which must be why the priest-caste lay claim to exclusive possession of it. Any good teacher knows, however, that guiding learners to seeing something for (and within) themselves is the correct way.

    • hardie karges 1:13 pm on October 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, well put. Thanks for your comments…

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

    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 11:34 am on September 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , Gandhi, homo sapiens, , Mahatma, , Protestant,   

    Buddhism is Found in the Beauty of Silence… 

    Sometimes silence can accomplish more than violence, and that’s something that Mahatma Gandhi knew, but which most modern protesters seem to have forgotten, when they parade that smug self-assertion that assumes that more chaos is better than less, while innocent victims die unattended and children see their lives suspended.

    This is the problem, not the solution, that we all need to take the bait, and excite the crowds, when just the opposite is truest: when silence prevails, the world is a better place, and we are all more equal. And this is not limited to manipulation of the Anglo-Saxon guilt complex, which Gandhi did so expertly, though that might be where it works best, there and in the surrounding Indo-European community, which has long been indoctrinated with Christianity and the doctrine of forgiveness.

    But it should work elsewhere, too, though perhaps with lesser results, especially where materialist doctrines have gained supremacy, arguably the difference between socialism and communism, that rejection of all ethics and most morality, in total deference to the party and the race.

    But Tibetan monks don’t practice self-immolation to hear the crowds cheering at Wimbledon or the Kentucky Derby. They do it because they want to send a message and because they can, where other avenues of ex-pression are limited, and where memories are long, even if time is short. Buddhists are disciplined if nothing else, witness the current pandemic results.

    And so it can be for all of us. Protestants were once protesters. Passion was once suffering. Our species arose from something that preceded it, and only caught fire with the invention of language. And that is where we stand today, at the crossroads of history, between the forces of good and evil which correspond roughly to the hemispheres of our brains.

    Thus a dialectic and discourse is built right in to our system of consciousness, and language is powerless to prevent it, since language is largely what created it. In the beginning was the Word, and in the end the meek will supposedly inherit the earth, and everything else is for us to figure out, and let the history books sort it out.

    Scientists call us homo sapiens, wise person, but that is probably far too generous, because we are in no position to judge ourselves, not from the long view of history, but only from the short view of a human lifetime. The most we can truly claim for ourselves is language, so homo linguarum, and for better or worse, that is our fate, to yak it up, even when silence is sometimes far better.

    And that is one thing I have learned in Buddhism, if nothing else, in one word: silence. That is the sound of meditation. That is the sound of Emptiness. Language is the best and worst human invention. Use it wisely…

     
  • hardie karges 1:03 pm on September 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , , , , , Virtual Reality   

    Buddhism and the Balancing Act of Excellence… 

    Violence solves nothing. It only creates more violence. We all know it, yet still we do it, reveling in our passions and bathing all awash in our emotions unapologetic, for this is what we are taught from day one, in the wild wild west, to be passionate about what we do, and anything less is ‘middling…’

    Yet middling is part and parcel of Buddhism and its Middle Path, the avoidance of excess and its extremes, in favor of the boredom of ‘middle-ness.’ From this viewpoint happiness is as often as not the avoidance of sadness, and bliss might very well be suspect for its dalliance with extreme emotion…

    Does this attitude build great cities? Does this attitude conquer continents, and send rockets to the moon? No it probably doesn’t, and we are probably better off because of it. Because neither does it commit genocides, enslave peoples, or cause global warming, and it can produce great art…

    Has your life really improved with the invention of Roombas to Hoover your floors? Do you really need four hundred channels of mediocre programming on the idiot box to satisfy your palate? And before you point out to me that I seem to be championing mediocrity as the Middle Way between lack and excess, I wish to point out that excellence is not a threat to anyone’s existence in the same way that luxury and self-starvation are, which is the original inspiration to the Buddha’s awakening…

    The Middle Path itself is nothing if not excellent. Do you think that it is easy finding that meandering sweet spot between extremes? It’s not. It’s an exquisite, but not excruciating, balancing act. And balance is crucial to the equation. Is it even possible for an equation to not be balanced? Of course not…

    Yet our lives in the 21st century are far from being balanced. We worship the gods of technological salvation, but we are never saved. We are only further addicted to our own existential cravings. Now I love science, and technology, i.e. applied science, but I don’t really need a self-driving car. I need a city that doesn’t’ require automobiles…

    Internet is sublime, and Virtual Reality is transcendent, but what else do we need? Interstellar exploration is wonderful, but you don’t need rockets for that, just better telescopes. Our cities are sh*t-stained pits and our lives wallow in the mire, accordingly. Nature, and dharma, can, and should be, a refuge, on a good day. Cities and technology? Meh, not so much…

     
  • hardie karges 1:36 pm on August 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, eukaryote, genetic drift, , mystic, , prokaryote, shamans   

    Buddhist Oneness in a World of Multiplicity… 

    “WE ARE ALL ONE PEOPLE!” the poets shout, and the racists doubt, for this is foundational to their philosophy, a philosophy of differences, and not in a good way, as if some come from above, trickled down or in torrents for the beneficent blessings on to the huddled masses, while others clandestine creep up only with all due caution from below, dodging headlights and sirens screaming all the way, only to find paths blocked and passages hindered, due to the absence of prior authorizations and neglect of the necessary negotiations, all designed to limit access and forego success. But yes, we are all one people, with common origins. And that is a fact of Science, not an act of Philosophy…

    But it is often promoted that way, as if this were the manifold musings of mystics or the inspired screamings of shamans, when in fact it is inscribed in the most basic texts of the biological sciences, from prokaryotes to eukaryotes, and from there on to the most complex of biological organisms, including us, homo sapiens, wise men waxing philosophical, even though for a billion years we were nothing but the most basic of single-celled organisms, looking to reproduce, asexually, willing to forego all the romance, and most of the drama, just for the privilege of offspring bacteria to have their day in the sun, and various dark moist places, with little thought to an afterlife or the possibilities of reincarnation, just torches handed over in rapid succession, the lifespan of a bacterium, without rank nor rencor, just the certainty that life will go on, with or without consciousness to witness it or self-consciousness to record its random narratives, once upon a time…

    We are the pinnacle of reproductive success, natural selection, the certainty of afterthought, when accurate predictions are limited to Aristotelian syllogisms and binomial equations, and nothing as random as genetic mutation could ever be predicted without divine intervention or the sublime self-musings of subconscious necessity. Thus we proceed, in fits and starts, the evolution of consciousness and culture looking for something so sublime as natural selection and genetic drift to guide us forward from the depths of willful ignorance along a path, any path, toward a paradise of human fruition. But that path will likely be a Middle Path, Buddhist by Nature if not by name, and as conservative and it is liberal, as protective as it is free, conserving traditions while embracing freedom. Life is short. Go forth and add. Don’t do anything bad. Give more than you take. That is all…

     
  • hardie karges 11:07 am on August 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism and Love, True True love… 

    True love doesn’t grasp or cling. True love embraces all and claims nothing. But this is a huge subject, of course, and it’s always good to define your terms, if you expect to have any reasonable discussion, because the word lends itself to many different interpretations, not the least of which is the reproduction of the species, without which we wouldn’t be sitting here having this conversation…

    Birth, after all, is the origin of each and every individual, if not the species, even if the species is the one most at risk. But many people, especially we westerners, see love as something to be IN, i.e. IN LOVE, so something far above and beyond the simple act of reproduction, more like an entire dimension that swallows us up whole, only to hopefully be released on our word at the middle of our sentence with the ensuing prospects of good behavior. Good luck with that…

    Other languages even describe the same feeling as being lost, i.e. lost in love, so that hits the nail squarely on the head, now, doesn’t it? But that’s so Christian, the passion and the cross, even if the passion was originally suffering, and the cross is really a sword…

    But Buddhism has none of that, AFAIK, but plenty of friendship and brotherly love, and for sisters, too, forever enshrined in the concepts and words of ‘metta’ and ‘maitri’, in Pali and Sanskrit, respectively and respectfully, often translated as ‘lovingkindness’ for people of Euro extraction, even though that’s originally a translation of the Hebrew ‘(c)heced’, aka ‘covenant loyalty’, apparently, so same deal, once the Romans got romance, and put woman on a pedestal from which they could no longer work, only f*ck, then everyone else had to follow those patriarchs of fashion, even if ‘(c)heced’ originally and literally meant to bow oneself, namaste…

    But that’s all water under the bridge, because that was then and this is now, but Buddhism is still a way of life full of dispassion, literally, i.e. relief from suffering, or at least compassion, i.e. misery loves company. But Buddhist suffering, dukkha, does not have to be painful, not at all. It is simply an acknowledgement that you are going to die, and that you are not the center of the universe…

    Now I won’t say that the Hindus-for-hire who tell you that you are the center of the universe are lying, but simply that they are misinformed, as any scientist can attest. For, in the Buddha’s eyes, we are simply a heap of aggregates, so let’s say adjectives, not nouns, and certainly not eternal ones passing from life to life, notwithstanding the paradox of rebirth…

    But at least for this life in this world, we all have each other, and that is not so bad, once you stop and think about it, and once you broaden your circle of friends to include those with whom you may find more degrees of separation than you can account for in the memories of those who conveniently surround you. Racism sucks. Does the Universe care what you do with your life? We are the Universe. We care…

     
    • tiramit 9:06 pm on August 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      “…we are simply a heap of aggregates …adjectives, not nouns,” I like it! It explains something about the Khandas that always puzzled me. Thanks

    • hardie karges 9:12 pm on August 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, it was a revelation to me at the time, also, though I’ve heard someone since describe them as verbs, but no, I still think that they are adjectives. This opens a whole new field of inquiry, though, into the linguistic nature of our self-perception. Thanks for your comments…

  • hardie karges 11:02 am on August 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , , , ,   

    Buddhism and the Art of the Path… 

    When the world outside imposes limits, then you explore inside, Inner Space, where there are few if any limits. This is the hardest thing for many of us to accept, especially us freedom-junkie Westerners, descendant of Europe and the Indo-European cowboy steppes, some of whom went east and got all meditative, the rest of us long having dallied with the West, and got bored with life on the installment plan, limited to incremental growth and low interest on investment, so we invented capitalism for life in the fast lane, and a convenient alternative to outright combat, while accomplishing largely the same thing, stratification of the races into winners and losers, so as to facilitate social immobility and survival of the fattest…

    So here we are now, some five thousand years later, addicted to our sensations and victims of our adrenaline, having largely conquered the world of Nature and with nowhere else to go but an Outer Space from which there is no return, or an Ocean Deep, where there is no sleep, and the cost of living is high…

    So we return to the predilections of our eastern Indo-Euro cousins, the same ones that we once accused of being the lazy soma-bibbing bumpkins of the clan, but now maybe not so slow or dim-witted after all, they having followed a different path, but of consciousness, not high-rise sky-scraping construction, but a less Nature-defiling path of Inner Space, which, when compared to the alternative of Outer Space, is somehow infinite, if not eternal, so unlimited in Space, if not Time, but on an inner path, not outer, and so protected by the sheaths and membranes of consciousness, not the temporary bulwarks of concrete and steel against bacteria and other forms of DNA that know how to survive against all odds…

    Because Nature will always find a way to survive, if not thrive, because that is what DNA does, once it has been coded, and sent to the factory for reproduction. Thus the path of Nature is a struggle between the twin forces of reproduction and consciousness, existence and non-existence, and the result can only be fruitful, if followed to the letter, and the number, because numbers are crucial to any plan for life, too much and it’s fire, too little and it’s ice, so that path in the middle not only looks nice, but actually is crucial to survival, with only the minimum amount of suffering necessary…

    And that is especially true in Inner Space, the path of least resistance and greatest fruition, whether simple meditative presence or a vast creative innovative Virtual Reality future. The past is certain and unreturnable. The future is a sea of possibilities. The present is a refuge, and a comfortable path between extremes. Suffering is a feeling. Limits are the reality. The only thing without limits is Emptiness…

     
  • hardie karges 10:44 am on August 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, delusion, dvesha, greed, , , moha, raga   

    Hatred is the Worst Virus, and One of the Three Buddhist ‘Poisons’… 

    Hatred is the worst virus, because it lets you live to spread it. It can be cured by consciousness, fortunately, and that is the good news, because the bad news only gets worse, and that is the fact that some people swear by it. That is, they exist to hate, inspired by its call to action, and by its certainty of conviction…

    This is one of the three Buddhist ‘poisons’ of hate, delusion, and greed, of course, and by far the worst, IMHO, because it involves other people by its very definition. The self-delusion of moha can be confined within the convenient boundaries of self, even if those boundaries are all temporary and artificial…

    And the greed of raga can be mitigated by degrees until it poses little threat to bystanders and fellow travelers. But the hatred of dvesha, even in its mild form of aversion, has devastating social consequences, and is rarely left to stew in its own juices without bubbling over to infect and infest the surrounding perimeters…

    Because this is the heart and soul of racism, that seething contempt for what is other, instead of embracing it, and notwithstanding that what is Other was once all one, and only destined for Otherness by the immutable laws of evolution. So hatred is also self-hatred and that is a pit of despair and hopelessness from which few can ever escape…

    We see that every day in the politics of exclusion and exclusivity, in which hatred becomes the defining fact of our existence, due to misplaced attributions of national superiority, based on no evidence of the sort. Genetic science now proves our common origins beyond a shadow of a doubt, and the details of that diaspora only await final delineations and descriptions to be complete…

    Race is an illusion, and the idea that we are all simply a product and foregone conclusion of a predetermined birth is a myth. Free will is not absolute, but it exists at least to a great enough extent that we are all responsible for our actions. So we should be certain that all our actions are good ones…

    And if we do that, then the odds are high that the favor will be returned, if not directly, then indirectly, often by the most circuitous route imaginable. For if the former action merely results in a transaction, then the latter is karma, pure and simple. Life is full of little cruelties and kindnesses. I recommend the latter…

     
    • Mark Tulin 12:40 pm on August 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      so true, and it feels it’s spreading just as much as the coronavirus

      • hardie karges 1:14 pm on August 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, new meaning to the term ‘going viral’, not so funny right now. Thanx for you comment…

  • hardie karges 11:18 am on August 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , birth, Buddhism, , , ,   

    Buddhism and Nature: the Law of Birth… 

    Nature is ธรรมชาติ, ‘dhammachaht,’ dharma jati, the dharma of birth, not the law of rebirth, in at least a few Asian languages, and likely a few more. And that is probably as good a definition of it as I could come up with, notwithstanding the fact that such a ‘birth’ does indeed become for many a ’round’ of which there are many, and which can neither be proven or disproven, ultimately, but for which there is no intrinsic logic, nor empirical evidence…

    But when we Westerners think of Nature, what do we think of, if not something wild and free, and so a tight fit into our narrative of liberty, and the delightful disobedience which that implies, for we love nothing so much as breaking the rules, ALL the rules, if not all the time, then at least as often as we can get away with it…

    But does Nature do that? Not hardly, I don’t think, and the typical Asian view, by invoking ‘dharma,’ is certainly likening it to a law, and therefore something which we disobey only at great risk to ourselves. But that doesn’t mean that Nature is something written in stone, or on crinkled crackling paper, and the ink stains that have dried upon some lines…

    No, nature is something changing, even if the laws invoked may indeed be unchanging—or not. Thus the first rule of DNA—sh*t happens, i.e. mutations occur, and that becomes the raw material for evolution. Now the central dogma of the science of genetics is that these mutations are random, which may or may not be true, but there is much anecdotal evidence that there may indeed be more to it than that, but for which firm and verifiable evidence is heretofore lacking…

    And that doesn’t even consider the fact of so-called ‘genetic drift,’ which no one can or will deny, but only damn by the faint praise of its ‘driftiness,’ thus removing it from any consideration as something maybe far more serious in terms of cause and/or effect…

    All of which is to say that the role of consciousness in evolution cannot be ruled out, even if some commentaries may have jumped the gun in ascribing to it more than its genuine worth, i.e. “consciousness affects evolution; evolution affects consciousness…”

    But this does nothing to minimize the miracle of birth, regardless, which is certainly not random, even if the product of the most random and brutal orgy, which is fortunately not usually the case, even if the Latin-inspired ‘romance’ may indeed often be lacking on cold dark nights in tight cramped corners….

    But Buddhism is more concerned with the suffering implicit, and it is certainly a fact that death is implied in the ‘law of birth’ and that is the proof of the prevalence of suffering, if only by a 51-49% advantage in the scores and statistics. For the world may be defined by its limits and its suffering, but there is much beauty, also, in Nature and Art, and the consciousness of it…

     
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