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  • hardie karges 1:09 pm on March 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Buddhism, , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Goodbye Corona, Hello Global Warming, Dark Age Optional… 

    Proof of Vaccination

    I got my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine against the Covid-19 virus today, so I guess that now is as good a time as any to put the finishing touches on this pandemic. Yes, I know that it’s not over and could go on at least another year or more, but for me, this is a defining point, and so I think I hear the fat lady singing. And I say that with a twinge of sadness, because for me it’s been a good year, not in material acquisitions, but in spiritual gain. Because the times of greatest stress and suffering often coincide with the greatest spiritual gains. This is as obvious in Jesus’s eschatological emergence as the Roman Empire entered its down days, as it was in the Buddha’s times, with the emergence of India’s and China’s rise as the two dominant centers of world population, a position that they maintain to this day.

    (More …)
     
    • Dave Kingsbury 4:17 pm on March 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      First, congratulations on receiving the double dose – each successful step something we can all celebrate. Second, can’t fault your analysis of the recent past nor your prognosis for the near future. Third, you outline new ways of thinking and responding which are also – satisfyingly – a return to older wisdoms. Vive l’humanite!

      • hardie karges 5:03 pm on March 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply

        Hear hear! Thanx for your comments, Dave…

  • hardie karges 11:32 am on March 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , Evil,   

    Buddhism and Evil, Parenthetically… 

    There is no evil in this world but that which exists in the hearts and minds of some misguided individuals. Evil is not an entity, existing independently and harvesting souls for current and future consumption. Evil is merely a function of circumstance, born of uncertain causes and subject to uncertain conditions. To remove evil from the world is to purify your own heart first, metaphorically speaking, and then proceed to spread the goodwill to others. If critical mass can be reached, pardon the cliché, then peace can prevail. It’s like reaching herd immunity in a pandemic. Not everyone has to get vaccinated, thank God, or we could never protect ourselves even the slightest little bit.

    This is the curse of democracy, of course, trying to get a large group of people to agree on anything, much less everything. Fortunately there is a hidden democracy, of the soul, so to speak, in which people want the best for themselves and the world, regardless of the cost and sacrifice. If enough of those people can meet and commune with each other, then the world can become a better place, and ultimately find sustainability. But it requires the most serious sort of open mind and the most diligent kind of experimental effort. Sometimes we learn our best lessons from our worst enemies, seasoned and flavored with experience. This is much the essence of Buddhism…

     
  • hardie karges 4:59 pm on February 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism and the Middle Path between Life and Logic… 

    The Middle Path is not straight and narrow, but rather long and winding. But this is one of the common misconceptions about Buddhism, that the Middle Path is some sort of magic pill, that you can pop at will, and presto change-o, you’re enlightened and enwisened beyond all time and all space and any ill-conceived dualistic perception of the two.

    But it’s not always that simple. Sure, it works well as a quickie compromise. Can’t decide between hot and cold? No problem: choose the lukewarm option, and that will usually suffice, as long as you aren’t too picky about your flavors. But note that this doesn’t always work. For instance, when the Mahayana Buddhists revised the Middle Path as a choice between existence and non-existence, the choices are thrown into starker focus.

    Is there a Middle Path between existence and non-existence? If we adopt the position that Buddhism itself is a Middle Path between the suicidal tendencies of Jainists and the wildest imaginations of Vedantists, then the question is self-fulfilling by simple acceptance of the basic premises of Buddhism.

    But it is certainly not likely that that is the original meaning, so further ruminations on the existence of self are a better bet, in which the original Theravada Buddhists (and the Buddha himself) posited an imaginary self, that exists in a conventional, but not a permanent, way, and which is a cause of much of our suffering, if not all of it, i.e. not necessarily ‘the’ cause, since Sanskrit has no grammatical articles, definite or indefinite.

    ‘Sunyata’, ‘emptiness’, expanded on this concept, such that everything has only an imaginary existence, very quantum-friendly. In all likelihood, though, the dichotomy between existence and non-existence is ‘merely’ an act of logic, tetra-lemma in style, in which anything that can be asserted can also be denied, or both accepted and denied, or neither accepted nor denied. That’s Indian logic, catuskoti. Go figure.

    But the original Middle Path is much easier to digest and much easier to incorporate into one’s normal life of decisions and planning. Thus the Middle Way is a metaphysical position of non-extremism, which goes far beyond the Buddha’s original considerations of luxury versus extreme asceticism. As already indicated, Buddhism itself could be considered a sort of Middle Path, which I think it is.

    And it is not always straight and narrow, but often winding and zig-zag, and can even be seen as the ‘sweet spot’ between extremes. Moreover, it can even be seen as the synthesis resulting between thesis and antithesis in any given dialectic. Thus the Middle Way is more than a path. It is balance.

     
  • hardie karges 11:48 am on February 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Buddhism, , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism and Self in an (Almost) post-Apocalyptic World… 

    Self-control requires no self, and not much control, either, really, just wise decisions. Which is convenient, since the last thing a Westerner—European or American—wants to hear about is control, something of a dirty word for the Aryan-descended high-steppes drifters.

    My compatriots tend to love their freedoms, even when they are deleterious to health, to an extent that others might, and do, find laughable, witness the current kerfuffles over life-saving masks in the middle of a pandemic. But limits are crucial to Buddhism, in sharp antithesis to the Christianity of eternal life and eternal resources. Oops! That’s another bad word–limit.

    Bottom line: It isn’t what you do that matters so much; it’s what you don’t do. And if that kept me away from Buddhism for many years, perceived as a passive response to active situations, now it attracts me to it. Because now it really is better to do nothing than run around like decapitated barn-fowl in search of answers to questions we never should have asked in the first place.

    So what do we do about global warming? Do nothing, i.e. instead of driving that car: do nothing. Instead of stoking that chimney of steel: do nothing. Instead of shooting that rocket to Mars: do nothing. Get it? So what if our lives revert to the same economic status of one hundred years ago, was that so bad? All we’ve gained since then is technology-based capitalism, not knowledge.

    One hundred years ago, Einstein’s general theory of relativity was proven and quantum mechanics was in progress. The only thing good that’s happened after all that is Internet, so we can keep that and get rid of all the self-driving cars and self-driven egos. Internet is almost the only worthwhile technology of the last century, that and health care, something still out of reach for many world citizens.

    Yet we are obsessed with economic growth as though that were the English term for God, and freedom as if that were our contribution to the Emptiness that underlies all stuff (which it may very well be). The problem is that quest for infinity when we have no true connection to it, except for our worship of it. So worship we can do, as long as we don’t fancy ourselves the master of it. We’re not.

    We are subject to freedom and must obey its dictates. Oops! There’s another dirty word, no, not dictate, but ‘obey.’ This is anathema to the West almost more than control or limits, but crucial to our place in the universe. It may very well be inhuman to dictate, but very human to obey, like the good children we should all strive to be. And it may be very inhuman to try to control others, but the essence of humanity to try to control ourselves.

    For then harsh words will not be spoken, and harsh actions will not be taken. Sound too simple? Yes, it is, and the most difficult thing for us to accomplish, we raised on the sound and fury of argument and debate. But accomplish it we must, if we are to survive another century. Purify your heart. Purify your mind. Prepare for the coming storm.

     
  • hardie karges 9:29 am on January 31, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , , , ,   

    Buddhism and the Industrial Revolution: Aftermath… 

    Don’t begrudge anyone their success. Their success is your success. We are all one people. We all know that, of course. But saying it and practicing it are two different things. And competition is fierce, especially when you’ve been raised that way from birth, as most of us Westerners, European-descended, have been raised.

    I don’t know why that is the case, probably some combination of capitalism, Christianity, and democracy, but the reality may be a little bit more nuanced than that. In fact it may even be such a recent event that the results of it are not even fully known yet, a phenomenon associated with the Industrial Revolution, the effects of which are still upon us. Don’t believe the textbook narrative that the Industrial Revolution occurred in the mid-1700’s in England. The Industrial Revolution is now—right now.

    And the results are as devastating as they are inspiring. Sure we’ve got multiple methods of travel to multiple places in the universe, but we’ve also got Global Warming, Dickensian poverty, the Enclosure Acts which dispossessed peasants of their ancestral rights to land, and now a devastating narcotics problem, largely born of the necessity of dealing with the dispossession and loss of our connection to Nature.

    Thus we stand at the crossroads, of history and consciousness. History will certainly go in a direction heretofore yet unimagined, and consciousness will certainly go with it hand-in-hand, no certain clue as to which is cause and which is effect. And if that much is certain, little else is. We are such a young species that anything can happen, and likely will.

    And this has happened over and over in the course of history and evolution, but I seriously doubt that any one species has ever been so responsible—or not—for its own destiny. Usually these things, i.e. evolution, happen in what seems to be a random impersonal manner, in which the best that can usually be said is something like, “Evolution favors smaller adaptable units,” we being the units, of course, usually devoid of consciousness.

    The invention, or evolution, if you prefer, of language, 50k years ago, seems to have changed all that. I can’t imagine what other invention would have had such an effect. So here we are, featherless bipeds possessed of language, and fully conscious of what the worst can be. But can we control our own worst impulses?

    Can we make decisions that will give sustainability to our species? These questions remain to be answered. But it will not occur with backbiting and unnecessary wars. Buddhism is all about teaching men to be more like women: more caring and less violent, and that is what I’m here to promote. Walk softly through this life and this world Make no enemies. Leave no trash.

     
  • hardie karges 8:20 am on January 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Abrahamic, Buddhism, , , , , Vedic   

    Buddhism and the Fear Factor… 

    The Buddhist Eightfold Path does not include fear. There is no such thing as Right Fear. Still that is the default position for much, if not most religion, as enshrined in the phrase ‘God-fearing,’ as it has resonated through American culture, at least, if not all Western culture and its multitude of lingos and dialectics.

    And in that way, it satisfies the civilizing function with which religion has been entrusted by so many and for so long, that mono-myth that serves as a belief system for the security of society. In that way it can even unite diverse and various societies under a common banner of inclusion, so that the internecine struggles that divide us may cease once we realize that we have common purpose, which in this case includes fear.

    The problem, of course, is that common purpose usually only goes part of the way toward inclusion before it bumps up against another belief system doing the same thing but from another source, and often heading in another direction. This is best evidenced in the various manifestations of Abrahamic religions, the three major branches of which have been at each other’s throats almost since the first day, albeit with shifting alliances between them (most people forget that Jews were once solemnly protected against the wrath of Christianity within the citadels of Islam, pre-1948).

    To their credit, the corresponding Vedic-descended religions have never shown such animosity, and often are included under the broad umbrella of Hinduism. But fear is still often a factor, especially to the extent that karma is invoked for that purpose, which is often the case. In that situation, a person is supposedly scared into doing good in this life out of fear of what the next life might bring. And it seems that in fact, that is why the Buddha accepted it, since there was really no proof either one way or the other, so why not err on the side of good results? Makes sense.

    But this is a different time and a different place. What once made good sense against the black background of ignorance, now makes little sense in the light of science. Now we must act in the certainty of our proofs and with the benefit of our education and knowledge. Thus fear is not a suitable motivation, unless accompanied by proofs, most of which are lacking, in the case of religion. There is no proof of God the Father. There is no proof of Heaven or Hell. There is no proof of reincarnation, and there is no proof of past lives (memories are, uh, flexible).

    So religion is better left to ethics and morality and providing inspirations for happiness. Leave Science to the scientists. When they try to solve wars by Science, then call them on their BS. That is the job of priests and philosophers (and the occasional politician). Conciliation is always preferable to confrontation. And peace is almost always better than war. They are the ones to tell you why and how. That is the job of religion and philosophy, not ruling by fear. Once you are vaccinated by Buddhism, then it is up to herd immunity to take over…

     
  • 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…

     
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