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  • hardie karges 11:48 am on February 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , chaos theory, equanimity, , , Jataka, , thought experiment   

    Thought Experiment: Reverse Karma and the Limitations of Intent… 

    Sometimes our worst enemy can teach us more than our best friend. This is one of the secondary principles of Buddhism, derived directly from the foundations, if not stated explicitly therein. So it is a kind of reverse karma, in which things happen as a result of causes, but not in any precise order. Karma is not a simple law of cause and effect, after all, if it is a law at all. It is a law of indirect effect, or extended effect, beyond the immediacy of action and reaction, which is simple classical physics, or simple free enterprise: you give me some money, and I’ll give you a product.

    Karma, if it exists, must be something more than that. For example: you give me some money, and I’ll guarantee that you get something back far and away more than you ever expected, and at a time to be determined later (I accept all currencies, by the way). And so it is with my idea of Reverse Karma, something similar to that often expressed by Tibetan Buddhists in general, and the Dalai Lama, in particular. And this is not surprising, because Tibetan Buddhists seem to be the most attracted and attached to the concept of karma.

    But there’s one important difference in the karma that I accept and the karma that so captures the Tibetans: this life. My karma exists only in this life, which is the only one I know, and which is the only one knowable, IMHO. The Tibetans, and many others, perhaps most inspired by the Jataka tales of the Buddha’s many lives, believe in the constant recycling of lives and consciousness, thinly disguised souls looking for succor.

    I limit my endeavors to this this life and this world, which is only consistent, after all, if you are a ‘present moment’ Buddhist, now, isn’t it? You know ET’s ‘Power of Now’ and all that rap, right? Not a bad way to go. And so it is with Reverse Karma, at least as I envision it. The Tibetans may have other ideas (but let’s leave Lobsang Rampa out of it, okay?)

    So if karma is all about your actions, then Reverse Karma, in my thought experiment, is all about your reactions, i.e. being the recipient of actions, not the actor, or doer, yourself. And this is a lot trickier, if you stop to think about it. Because you may well be very certain about what you want to do in this life, but how can you be certain about what to receive from others, when you have no idea what that will be, or when that will be? You can’t. As an individual you can’t, nor as a group can we.

    Most of us know that we need to do something about Global Warming, but few of us know the best way to go about it. Yet some will survive, and others likely won’t, regardless of the fact that we share a planet. So if we only knew which group or groups would most likely survive, then we could ally ourselves with them. That is one way Reverse Karma could work. Another way is the well-known ‘Butterfly Effect’ of Chaos Theory, in which a random action simply sets off a chain reaction of almost totally unrelated events.

    The point is: Reverse Karma is the ultimate test of equanimity, a balanced and composed mind, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Sound familiar? Therefore we must be open to all actions as being ultimately the best of circumstances, regardless of implied intent and ascribed emotions. One more word about rebirth: it has been said that we should be open to it, and that is true. But we should also be open to non-rebirth and that is the problem, because the ‘re-birthers’ are bending over backwards to double down on it. But that is for another day and maybe even another life. We are all going to die, after all, that is true, but not today…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 3:05 pm on February 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      I wonder if karma for a ‘present moment’ Buddhist could be the accumulated richness and connectivity of life as it plays out? Ripeness is all, to quote the Bard! Just a thought from an amateur in such matters …

    • hardie karges 3:10 pm on February 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      Hey, I like it! There’s always a place at the table for the Bard…

  • hardie karges 12:23 pm on November 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2020, , , 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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