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  • hardie karges 11:24 am on July 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Buddhism, , , , , , inanition, , , , , , secular Buddhism, , ,   

    The Rocky Middle Path of Buddhism in America… 

    “Give me liberty or give me death” is America’s battle cry for independence, of course, as so brilliantly elucidated by Patrick Henry, and seconded by many others, notably the license plate slogan ‘Live Free or Die,’ among many others of similar emotion. And by ‘America’ I mean the USA, not the lower 40, though they are largely complicit, as is Europe the mother country, in the case of North America, which lacks the large indigenous base of many of the other more southern countries. Even Mexico is around 65% indigenous the last time I checked.

    And freedom is all well and good, as long as we know the details of the liberties and freedoms referred to, but which can be detrimental, and even deadly, if left for imaginations to run wild and machinations to double down in derailing the original intent of a simple life without a lord and master to serve at every beck and call. So now we consider mask-lessness as an inalienable right, even during a pandemic, ditto vaccines, and any restriction on movement during the same world emergency to be a violation. So the Western insistence on freedom to the maximum extent comes very close to an implicit death wish.

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  • hardie karges 10:32 am on June 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, cargo cult, , , , ,   

    Buddhism is Monotheistic, God Optional… 

    Monotheism means ‘One God,’ right, as if that’s the solution to all our problems? No, well, maybe, but that’s only one of the problems, then. Because certainly just adding another god every time you have another challenge says more about you than the God or the challenge. This reminds me most of the Cargo Cults in Melanesia within the past century or so, in which the indigenous people made sense of their encounter with wealthy westerners—and their religion—by positing a belief in the delivery of merchandise with the aid of certain rituals, i.e. Christianity-Capitalism without all the pesky Commandments.

    But as the cult aged, and the cargo became uncertain, given the prevarications of its masters, the Americans, then the locals had to resort to heightened measures to hopefully achieve the same results. The efforts were many and diverse: longer runways for the planes to land; higher towers to signal them in, American soldiers’ uniforms to get the ritual right, and/or parades and military drills to imitate the patterns of the successful entreaties, etc. You get the idea. The whole effort was designed to imitate the success that they had witnessed on the part of Japanese and American soldiers and the supplies they attracted.

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  • hardie karges 9:54 am on June 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bill Gates, Buddhism, , , , , , ,   

    Karma is not a B*tch; She is Mother Nature… 

    I made the coffee too strong, and got too excited, so I spilled it accidentally, and now everything’s fine–Life 492…

    That is a simple enough little ditty, now, isn’t it? On one level it’s just a description of another manic Monday living in the USA, down in jungle land, for what it’s worth. And on another level it’s a brief glimpse into the horrors of the caffeine addiction to which I’ve relapsed after successfully divorcing myself from that horrible fate—or so I thought. And on an even different level it’s a description of life itself, as the joking attribution suggests.

    But on a higher level it also says something about Karma, not the Karma of retribution that speaks to the need of some religions for punishment, if not by some God, then by some force, or doctrine. For isn’t monotheism really the replacement of deities by doctrine, so more than the reduction in godheads, really more of an increase in letterheads? And it’s not a Karma of simple cause and effect, which is really more like a business transaction than a connection with a higher force.

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  • hardie karges 10:23 am on June 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: beauty, Buddhism, , , goodness, , , , , , truth   

    Buddhism in the Facebook Era: Truth Falls Flat in the Face of Entertainment 

    I’ve often said that the ultimate quest in a human’s life—my life—is for truth, beauty and goodness, with the implication being that this is the proper field of inquiry for religion and philosophy. But is that what really happens? Beauty isn’t so hard nor controversial, since we tend to all have similar views on what inspires feelings of beauty, if not art, within us, and not dissimilar to the quick and easy Internet definition on MS Bing: “a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.”

    That sounds about right, now, doesn’t it? And even more so when slightly modified to allow that this combination of qualities might also “please the intellect or moral sense.” Cool. Sounds good to me. I think that we can all agree on that. And the concept of goodness dovetails nicely into that concept of beauty, such that it almost serves the chief purpose of clarifying exactly what we mean when we talk about goodness or simply ‘the good.’ And that’s exactly what the ancient Greek philosophers talked about, they who basically invented the term ‘philosophy,’ and for whom the definition of ‘goodness’ was something like: “you’ll know it when you see it.”

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  • hardie karges 11:18 am on June 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , , Indus Valley, Kama Sutra, , Malcolm Gladwell, , , , , , , Vedantic,   

    Buddhist Sutra on Passion and Dispassion… 

    The one who can control himself, can control the world—his world…

    Now I make no secret of the fact that I don’t think that Buddhism is necessarily any better than any other religion, philosophy, or way of life. But it is the right one for the right time. And it is no accident that it took me more than half my life (and counting) to finally make the switch from an eclectic form of ersatz Christianity to an equally eclectic form of Buddhism, however much more authentic, I reckon. After all I never got my MA in Christian Studies, though I guess all my liberal arts courses and BA in philosophy is probably as much as that, if not more.

    But neither Buddhism nor Christianity exists in a vacuum, so what we get is a mix of the original intent in its original environment, full of causes and conditions, situations and circumstances, inspirations and misgivings, as combined with the mandates of the mandarins, the rulings of the rulers, the laws of the legislators and the cravings of the consumer. Caveat emptor. But the salient point is that both are but the metaphysical underpinnings and psychological overtones of something much larger, equally symbolic and patently manifest.

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  • hardie karges 12:34 pm on May 16, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , , frequencies, Kristofferson, , , Stephen Hawking,   

    Hawking Paradox Sutra, the Buddhism of Big Questions… 

    Stephen Hawking is certainly one of the most interesting figures of the last century, and his previous best-seller A Brief History of Time was certainly a page-turner, if not exactly a nail-biter, so I was excited to have a chance to read his latest, and presumably last (since he is now deceased) offering, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, like, you know: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do we go now? Who invented ice cream? Why are women so beautiful? Hey, you gotta’ have priorities.

    Backstory: Freedom and the lack thereof is one of my big themes philosophically, and so it is for many of us, generally in the West, and especially in America, to the point that you can’t escape it, even when you are reading Eastern philosophy, especially that of the Indian/Hindu variety, in which pandits and acharyas will go on and on (I would like to say ‘drone’) about you and your boundlessness and your limitlessness, and wouldn’t it be great if you were unstoppable.

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  • hardie karges 12:26 pm on April 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brahmanism, Buddhism, Carvakas, cosmological constant, , Gosala, , , , Nepali, Predeterminism, , ,   

    Karma, Rebirth, and the Middle Path of Buddhism 

    Karma is not a bank account. Karma is a way to live with right actions. That’s what the word means, in fact, simply ‘actions.’ But somewhere along the way the word got mixed up in the fashions of the day, in 6th to 8th century India, Before the Common Era, and the materialistic demands of the Carvakas in contrast to the predeterminism of Gosala, tutor to both the Buddha and Mahavira, 23rd Tirthankara of the Jains. They were of the extreme ascetic bent, of course, in which Emptiness literally means empty bellies, by willful design, to the point of inanition and even death, for lack of other inspiration.

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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.

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    • 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.

     
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