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  • hardie karges 10:03 am on January 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , , eternity, , MAGA, , , present moment, , Shaivite,   

    Buddhism and the Limits of Control… 

    Self-control isn’t really about controlling anything. It’s about right actions. And this is an important distinction for Western audiences, who simply abhor any limit to their supposed freedoms, whether real or imagined, whether they be MAGA-hat-wearing Trumpists or Buddhists who refuse to give up the Christian core which promises them eternal life.

    So all of a sudden rebirth doesn’t sound so bad, notwithstanding the fact that for most traditional Buddhists that is a curse, not a gift. Nevertheless, we must plead ‘skillful means,’ in order to save the seeker from the grips of false doctrine, whether Muslim or Shaivite, and so admit them into the fold, then work out the details later.

    And in fact a world with no limits is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on unsuspecting adherents to Christianity, Capitalism, and Democracy, but that is our fate, and now we must deal with it. It was instrumental in getting men to the moon, and now we must figure out how to save the earth that they left behind. It created the fires of industry, and now we must figure out how to put the fires out.

    Still the eternalists never give up, assuring us that there are more of us out there somewhere in the Universe, with not one shred of evidence to support it. Like Trumpsters counting votes in absentia, the statisticians count humans by virtue of logic, not math. But the only thing infinite is Emptiness, and that is not the World. That is the possibility that there might be a world.

    Once there actually is a world of perception and cognition and stuff, then it is immediately limited by its very existence and its imminent death. So it is simply better to accept the profound limits of human existence, rather than talk about them, since that might make some people sad, that they may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and so forth, and so on.

    And so it is with control. That implies a limit on freedom, so people don’t want to hear about it. They want to hear that they are the center of the universe, and can do whatever they damn well please, torpedoes be damned at the same time. There’s only one problem: it’s a lie. Limits define us, by definition, and so are profound, and to be embraced, for that is the predestination that is so often secretly desired, almost as much as infinity, the two concepts of which are mutually exclusive, infinity and predestination.

    It’s almost like the Buddhists who believe in reincarnation at the same time that they believe in the present moment. You can’t do that, not without egregious assaults to fundamental logic and basic agreement of terms. And so avoidance of wrong actions is every bit as important as the execution of right actions. And if that is control, then so be it. Truth is more than a balanced equation. It is a balanced life…

     
  • hardie karges 11:27 am on January 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , , , , social   

    Buddhism is a Social Paradigm, too… 

    And it’s a vision of a better world, and that is much the reason I have sworn allegiance to it, for without that social component, the reasons are not nearly so compelling. Because if personal ‘salvation’ is the only desired result, then the methods are many, and the results are uncertain. Who’s to really say if the Buddhist methods of renunciation and meditation are truly better than the Christian methods of passion and forgiveness?

    One advocates a certain withdrawal from the affairs of the world, while the other advocates an ever-increasing involvement, to the point that I’m in yo’ mutha’ f*ckin’ face whether you like it or not, got it? So we disparage one as ‘life-denying’ while praising the other’s adherents as ‘full of life,’ without even the slightest acknowledgement that those ‘full-of-lifers’ are indeed usually the ones destroying the planet.

    The fact that that is not what they intend is superfluous. Intent is only the obsession of those same Christian courts that value remorse and contrition while selling those same guns that make all the forgiveness necessary. A simpler solution might simply be to get our gun jollies and joneses in video games and leave the acts of nature to Nature herself.

    And what’s right for a world of three billion people is not necessarily right for a world of eight billion, and that’s just the changes that have occurred in my lifetime. Should we simply wait with bated breath for each individual to make his peace with his Maker, so that the World can survive, or should responsible governments take it upon themselves to limit activities that threaten to aggravate pressures of over-population and global over-heating?

    Then the freedom-loving rabble will raise hackles at all the supposed shackles that they must endure, without even questioning whether these are freedoms FROM of freedoms TO, as though it’s all the same and freedoms of all sorts and types must by definition be unlimited. But this myth of no limits is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated. Buddhism can help with that.

    America teaches eternal life, endless resources, and unlimited freedoms, i.e. Christianity, Capitalism, and Democracy, all packaged and gift-wrapped in bright colorful ribbons and bows, as if nothing could be more natural or necessary, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Still the package played an important role in the development of human civilization.

    Does anyone really wish that we were stuck in year 1492 with no knowledge of the spectacles that were to come in the ensuing centuries? But how now do we rein in our wildest impulses for the good of the many for the good of the future? Thus the Western mind is better to create civilization, and the eastern mind is better to control it. If the current pandemic taught us nothing it taught us that.

    And the lesson can carry into other areas of social concern, beyond pandemics first, and global warming second, into the trickier and thornier issues of war and violence, and the existential abstractions of personal peace, love and understanding. First we extinguish the fires inside, and then we extinguish the fires outside…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 4:32 pm on January 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      Your final paragraph is a great summation of the problems we face which a Buddhist mindset would help solve. Happy New Year and may it be a beneficial one!

      • hardie karges 6:12 pm on January 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Dave, and a Happy New Year to you, too!

  • hardie karges 10:05 am on December 31, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Buddhism, , , , Joe Biden, ,   

    New Year 2021: Thank You, Covid-19 (but we really need a Gandhi)… 

    Years come and go. The dharma stays the same…

    Assuming that Joe Biden will eventually win this monster of a 2020 US election, we can only thank one thing: the novel Coronavirus, aka Covid-19. That much is clear. Without it, and DJ Trump’s miserable performance in combatting it, he likely would have won, assuming that everything else remained the same, which is not necessarily the case (but it would have been even closer, if that’s possible)…

    Specifically I’m referring to the massive protests and riots that have accompanied the Black Lives Matter movement, which I fully support, despite the massive looting and violence, which I fully detest, to the point of disgust. I reiterate: that might not have happened, were it not for Covid-19 (lockdown stress disorder?), butterfly effects of Covid-19 yet to be documented… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 10:12 am on December 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhanauts, Buddhism, Deus Pater, Dyaus Pitr, ,   

    Buddhism and Science: the Middle Path of Enlightenment… 

    The Middle Path is not so hard, but not so easy, either. That’s why it’s called the Middle Path. And if that sounds like a cop-out, an avoidance of decision, well I assure you that it can be much more than that and a metaphysical position in its own right, however sublime and shifting, but not shifty.

    If that sounds a lot like agnosticism, then there’s a reason for that. The best Buddhism is agnostic, IMHO, if not agnosticism itself. The problem of much, if not most religion, is simply that in its desire for certainty, it attaches itself to a position that may become untenable at some point in the future (notice how we say ‘the future’ as if only one were possible).

    But Buddhism does that, too, with varying results, and to the point that much of the Buddha’s original inspiration almost gets lost in the process. That’s because the holy trinity of rebirth, karma, and past lives is such a powerful paradigm, however unsatisfying it may be to a modern science-loving child of the Enlightenment.

    Notice how the term ‘enlightenment’ is used in both Science and Buddhism? But I didn’t say science-believing, now, did I? And that’s the difference, in answer to those who claim that believing in science is just as mistaken as a belief in anything else, because just look at how often science is later found faulty, as a new theory and hypothesis takes precedence.

    Exactly, that is the point. The best science is agnostic, also, and that is not just my opinion; that is definition. Science is a method, not a belief system, and Buddhism can function that way, also. Thus there is something for everybody in Buddhism, gods, hungry ghosts, and multiple levels of Hell for those who need it to stay straight in this life, rebirth in a lesser status for those who need the double dose.

    Still the best face of Buddhism is the recognition that there is suffering in this life and this world, and there is a way to mitigate it. If there is a better life in a better world, then bring it. After all, why would you want eternal life in a substandard existence, except out of fear of the unknown, as the monotheists’ Dyaus Pitr-God the Father-Deus Pater promises? I wouldn’t.

    But that doesn’t mean that I feel resigned to a miserable set of rebirths, either, regardless of my behavior in this one life and one world that I know. I don’t. That’s just another form of fear. The challenge of this life in this world is to explore the unknown and accommodate ourselves to it, without rank nor rancor.

    The innovation that Buddhism makes, long before modern Western psychology, is the recognition of inner space. Astronauts explore Outer Space. Buddhanauts must explore Inner Space, the deep sea, thalay, dalai, a hidden world so close that you can almost touch it. And in there is where many of the secrets to our existence lie…

     
  • hardie karges 1:03 pm on December 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bet, Buddhism, , , , epistemology, gambling, , , trifecta,   

    Buddhism 201: There are no Winners and Losers… 

    In the best negotiations and most serious debates, everybody should walk away happy. This is the secret to all good dealings, of course, but all too often forgotten, in the rush to seal deals, and replace stocks, and return to life as normal, on the battlefields of commerce and contentment, where the fruits of life are often commodities, and the rewards are consumption, a vaguely full sensation, quickly desiring something more or better, as if there is no balance.

    But balance there must be if happiness is truly our goal, and that is the open secret of the Middle Path, something so simple, and something so sublime, that it is easily overlooked in the rush to judgment and the customary division of spoils among victors. But did the losers really lose, and if so, then what exactly did they lose? And did the winners really win, and if so, then what exactly did they win?

    The short answer is that no one really knows, and so any bettor worth his chips knows that to cover your assets, you hedge your bets, and hopefully cover the spread in the process. Because not only do we never know whether we truly win or lose, but by even less will we know by how much.

    And that balancing act is more than smart business; it is an epistemological reality, if not necessarily a metaphysical one, which it may indeed very well be. And this is the beauty of agnosticism, which is often reduced in value by vague insinuations that it is avoiding a decision by refusing to take sides. But that is one of the fundamental facts of life and the world: absolute knowledge is simply unknowable.

    This becomes a tautology, of course, in the sense that we are claiming to know that unknowability, but that does not diminish its value, no, or at least not by much. We simply cut the conversation short to avoid endless reductions and descensions into a void. Don’t you wish everybody did?

    So Buddhism as a philosophy is fundamentally an open doctrine, even if Buddhism as a religion is saddled with karma, rebirth, and past lives as customary baggage, just as Christianity comes pre-packaged with democracy and capitalism, the trifecta of hedged bets within the trinity of no limits. And that is as much a myth as reincarnation and past lives, though it doesn’t catch so much flack for it by the simple trick of perception bias: we can’t see the forest we live in for all the trees that stand in the way.

    So we assume by instinct that there is an underlying fundamental reality, even if we are hard pressed to say exactly what it is. Somehow some way it simply is, as Nature is, sublime in its silence, commanding in its occasional outbursts. After all, if the lion and the lamb are raised together in the same crib, then any future violence is unlikely. Thus the dharma is simply an admonition to be like that, like nature. You’ll know it when you see it. Mindful silence is better than mindless chatter almost any day.

     
  • hardie karges 11:22 am on December 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , mirrors, , reflected   

    Buddhism in Mirrors Reflected… 

    The past demands no explanation. The future requires no warning. Tame your heart, tame your mind, tame yourself, and tame the world…

     
  • hardie karges 1:04 pm on December 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, conservation, energy, matter,   

    Buddhism and the Laws of Conservation of Energy and Matter… 

    Live simply to simply live. Everything else is excess. But this is the hardest thing for most people to do, because we tend to see our lives as games of addition and subtraction, zero sum, such that our gains come at the expense of others, and there must be someone keeping score somewhere for there to be any playing field to begin with.

    This is a logical fallacy, of course, and the actions of multiplication and division are no better, they the flip sides of each other, just like addition and subtraction, in which to multiply 3 x 4, for instance, is to automatically divide the lot into twelve equal parts, regardless of what the original quantity consisted of, and regardless of any intent, real or supposed.

    But our lives on this planet, in this universe, for all practical purposes must be presumed to be zero sum operations, regardless of the amendments to the law of conservation of mass and energy which are at the heart of classical mechanics and physics. We simply have no other basis on which to proceed. The fallacy lies in the postulation of an all-powerful creator at the center of his creation, manipulating his puppets with heartstrings, no matter that such details are not in evidence.

    But the zero sum holds, unless and until we find something more or better. So we have to assume that all actions are followed by equal and opposite reactions, more classical physics. Thus we are wise not to rush to judgments and short-sighted utilizations of scarce matter and energy, regardless of the fact that, if the system is indeed a closed one, that matter and/or energy is still there, albeit perhaps changed now into a form that makes it much hard to retrieve and re-purpose for other uses.

    For instance: do we really want to burn a piece of wood, resting assured that the molecules still exist somehow somewhere, when the act of burning deprives us of a house and home in the process? Probably not. Thus the forms that matter and energy take are of supreme importance to our old-fashioned lives on this old-fashioned planet, regardless of the quantum effects which may or may not accrue, given the time and resources necessary to process that new information.

    For now we are limited to the systems which define us, five or six senses, a language or our choice, and a system of rational thought that results from these origins. Whatever we use, and effectively change forever, may not be retrievable for future use. Thus it is better to use resources sparingly, lest they be lost to us effectively forever.

    The Christian-Capitalist-Democratic myths of eternal life, resources, and freedoms are simply not backed by empirical observation. Yes, the game is zero-sum, as far as we currently know, in terms of matter and energy, but not ideas. Ideas are empty, and so without limit. Still there are no winners, and there are no losers. This is not a game. We are playing for keeps here.

     
  • hardie karges 1:00 pm on December 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Buddhism, Marija Gimbutas, matriarchy, Old Europe, ,   

    Buddhism in a World at War with Itself… 

    Fight the war within your heart, and so leave the world at peace. That largely summarizes the Buddhist philosophy in a nutshell, with regard to the world at large, at least. And that was always a source of some consternation for me, at first, I coming from a Western country with a strong sense of action, freedom, and individualism. So to simply turn the eyes downward, or turn one’s head aside, hardly seems to be the correct way to deal with problems.

    But it works, at least to a certain extent, by forgoing the bluff and bluster, and most of all the violence, and simply walking away calmly. In fact, that’s the first thing I learned in my Kung Fu class, for all the fancy moves and sleights of hand: just walk away; and 90% of the time it will work. The problem arises when there is no place to walk to, whether for lack of space or circumstances.

    But this is a problem that the ‘minority’ groups of the world have encountered since Day One. As long as they have some place to escape to, then problems do not have to ‘come to a head,’ so to speak, and everybody is happy, more or less, and the world’s largest ‘races’ occupy the choicest valleys and prime sea coasts, and the most valuable trade routes between them.

    And this is largely tolerable until the world’s population starts to surpass a billion or two, and then quadruples in population over the next hundred years. Welcome to 2020, and lots of hindsight. Now there is no place left to hide, and that didn’t always work so well, anyway. As hard as it is for us moderns to believe, there was a time not so long ago when young men were anxious to go to war, for reasons that I’m not so sure about.

    Now I suppose it may be an unhealthy craving to be too attached to one’s own life, but not for the purpose of violence, I wouldn’t think. But this is the age of patriarchy, and such are the ways and means of its workings. Only one man is needed to fertilize the wombs of a hundred women, as any self-aggrandizing Alpha male knows, and the rest are free to rumble. Ouch.

    Oh, how I long for the pre-Aryan Old Europe of Marija Gimbutas, the Old Asia, Old America, and the Old Africa of matriarchy, when women’s value was paramount, in direct proportion to the need to multiply the species, long before unemployed men began the long division of slicing and dicing body parts for mass internment, ashes to ashes and all that rap. But there is another clause in the dharma of Buddhism that pertains to this discussion and that is the need to remove the causes and conditions of suffering.

    And assuming that these causes and conditions are originally internal, then they must be applied to all persons equally, across the board. If women refused to submit to the Alpha males for purposes of reproduction, would the problem simply go away? It might be worth a try. Everything is perfect in its imperfection. It is just what it is, Trump notwithstanding, nor left standing. Opinions fall flat in the face of reality…

     
  • hardie karges 12:37 pm on November 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , , , , monkey-mind, Neanderthal, , ,   

    Buddhist Mindfulness and the Myth of Multi-Tasking… 

    Multi-tasking is a myth, aka ‘monkey mind’. Mindfulness is not a myth. Think one thought at the time. ‘Mindfulness’ is a difficult word to translate, and may or may not be the best translation of the Pali/Sanskrit word ‘sati,’ but that is the historical path of Buddhism, so that is the word with which we are left, and that is the task before us.

    I think that the Christians have even borrowed the term now, and so it has taken on a life of its own. But what does it really mean? The term ‘sati’ originally meant something like simple ‘awareness’ or ‘consciousness,’ small ‘c’, almost certainly, (as it still means in modern standard Thai).

    But even more certain would be to simply posit it as the inverse of its negation, and so ‘mindfulness’ is simply the opposite of ‘mindlessness’ and put the onus of exposition upon its protagonists, since the word ‘sati’ worked just fine for millennia, and its simple translations are more than sufficient.

    But the quest for religion is the quest for transcendence, if not magic, and if that means creating holy words with extraordinary definitions, then ‘mindfulness’ is one of those, in the modern post-New-Age reinvention of our spiritual necessities.

    And if that seems tired and trite, then rest assured that the most traditional Buddhists are in on the game, too, they also anxious to liberate terminology from the ordinary humdrum of daily existence, add some hype, aka ‘wu-wu.’

    And one of the easiest ways to do that is simply to redefine terms and double them up. So Sanskrit ‘mudita’ becomes not just ‘joy’ but ‘sympathetic joy.’ And ‘metta’ becomes not just ‘kindness’ but ‘loving-kindness.’ And the Asians do this, too, Thais long combining ‘metta’ and ‘karuna’ (compassion) into one comprehensive ‘mettakaruna.’ Likewise ‘sati’ and ‘panya’ (knowledge) can become ‘satipanya’ for extra emphasis and expansion.

    So beyond all the back-stories and linguistic back-formations, what does the word ‘mindfulness’ now really mean in the Buddhist epistemological sense? As stated originally, probably the best interpretation is focused thinking, i.e. one thought at the time, since there truly is not the ability to hold two thoughts equally and simultaneously, but simply to switch between them constantly, so a trick in itself, but perhaps not conducive to a peaceful mind.

    But I think that a better notion is to think in terms of non-linguistic thought altogether, what I call ‘proto-consciousness’ or ‘paleo-consciousness,’ in the sense that this was once normal, no doubt, before the advent of language some 50,000 years ago, almost simultaneous with the demise of our competitors homo Denisova and Floresiensus, and finally Neanderthalensis.

    That is no coincidence, and no cause to celebrate. But that was then, and this is now. God knows that we are nothing if not a young species, and all should be forgiven. Bottom line: Cooperation is better than competition, community better than individualism. And mindfulness is more than a simple agreement of terms.

     
  • hardie karges 12:23 pm on November 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2020, Buddhism, butterfly effect, chaos theory, , , , ,   

    Buddhism at the Crossroads of Politics and Religion… 

    Your worst enemy can be your best friend, maybe save your life in the end, if you avoid harsh words, and show him some kindness. And this is especially true in a time of political disruption, when all norms of decency have been cast to the winds of fate, in favor of the expediency of racial familiarity.

    For this is the great advantage of religion, if not the sole purpose, i.e. to provide the comfort of familiarity beyond mere racial and tribal identities. After all, most religions have similar, if not identical, goals. The problem, of course, is spreading that umbrella of familiarity wide enough to include everyone, so as to avoid merely extending tribal associations into the realm of religion.

    For religion has no intrinsic connection to any nation or race, but that which the paths of culture provide. Culture can change, though, and sometimes immediately. There is nothing that necessitates that a European be Christian or an Asian be Buddhist, except that that is the path that the various cultures adopted in adaptation to the stimuli that occurred, whether natural or intentional.

    In fact, the genetic dispositions of the founders of Eastern and Western philosophy are quite similar, probably more similar than the right and left sides of any individual brain. But many, if not most, circumstances are largely random, as best described by the ‘Butterfly Effect’ of Chaos Theory, in which the mere fact that a butterfly might flutter by changes the course of history.

    So we are left to make sense of what seem to be random occurrences as best we can. But they are not all random, and that is the point of science, to find the order in the universe. That is NOT the point of religion, though, which is to find our place in that universe. At one time, in the not-so-distant past, the two endeavors were one and the same thing, not surprising in a human culture that has barely outgrown its diapers.

    That does not imply any false duality, though, merely a hierarchy of necessity in a world grown more complex with the passage of time and the increasing specialization of the species homo sapiens. And if I once thought that we as a species might not survive, given our many sins, of commission and omission, then today I am gratified to find that Nature will likely have an important role in that final determination.

    After all, natural selection is always right. But it is rarely predictive. Hindsight is 2020. Until then, we are best served by a gentleness in our approach to all matters of politics and religion. Buddhism is a good paradigm for that, arguably the best. Purify your heart. Fortify your mind. Lead the world by example…

     
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