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  • hardie karges 11:43 am on March 18, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CHRISTIANITY, , , , , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism 499: Suffering doesn’t have to be so sad…  

    Suffering does not mean sadness, maybe in Nepali language, but not in Buddhism. This is one of the lessons, and this is one of the discussions, about what the word ‘dukkha’ really means, and what that means for us. Many pandits try to redefine it variously as ‘stress,’ ‘disappointment,’ ‘dissatisfaction,’ ‘spot of bother,’ haha, or various and sundry other things, but in most modern SE Asian languages the word indeed is usually best translated as ‘suffering,’ however minor or apparently insignificant, which sometimes earns Buddhism the rap as pessimistic.  

    What IS significant is that you will one day die, or simply expire, from this life in this world, and whether anything goes on after that is a matter of sober conjecture. But that IS a limit to your free will and your open skies and your desire for the Christian myth of abundance. For if there is indeed an infinity and/or an eternity, then it is surely empty, and that can indeed be beautiful, just as can the various limits placed upon it. For what is a work of art if not a limit, or definition, of reality, and what is a song? They are nothing if not sublime limits placed upon an undefined eternity. 

    Thus, suffering need not be so cruel. For me it is little more than life in passive voice as much or more than active, if those grammatical terms still have meaning for you. They do for English language literary agents, I assure you, and passive voice is largely prohibited, while in Asian academic circles, it is almost required. Go figure. But I’m not advocating passivity, and that is what kept me from Buddhism for many years, the passivity that I perceived in Thailand. As always, the truth lies in the Middle Path, and the subtle balance between aggression and renunciation. There is always a way forward without resorting to extremes… 

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  • hardie karges 8:16 am on March 11, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CHRISTIANITY, , , eternal life, , , , Kramer, , , Passion of Christ, , , ,   

    The Passion and Dispassion of Buddhism…  

    Buddhism in Sri Lanka

    There is no worse slavery than the slavery to your passion(s). And that’s a tough pill to swallow, because we tend to think of our passions as our pleasures, as though it’s only natural to be obsessed and conflicted. It’s not. But that shows the path that western culture has taken, in which our passions, which once meant ‘suffering,’ now are the focal point of our lives, and full of positive connotations—even if it kills us. So, with the ‘passion of Christ’ fully articulated as his suffering, in defeat, with no victory implied or intended, then Buddhism and Christianity are not so far apart, at least not superficially, at least not originally.  

    For both see suffering as seminal. The differences only become apparent when we realize that Christianity and the West make of suffering (i.e. passion) something to be encouraged, and sought, not something to be avoided and mitigated, as in Buddhism. The examples are many: samsara, for instance. This is a word that in the time of Buddha meant, and still means (in modern Nepali), ‘the world.’ And the Buddhists made something distinctly negative of that term, it now symbolizing the drudgery and misery of incessant rebirths. But most westerners, and especially Christians, are famous for their (our) ‘love of life’ and the world, too, of course.

    So, is the Christian belief in (and desire for) some sort of ‘eternal life’ really any different from the Buddhist rebirth? Only in that one is desired and the other abhorred, it would seem. So, if it’s not surprising that Buddhism and Christianity spring from similar roots, given their shared Indo-European proto-language and homeland, it IS a bit surprising that they’ve diverged so far from that initial starting point, and in apparently opposite directions. What would cause that? Good question. There would seem to be nothing in the physical landscape to explain the divergence, though the cultures encountered, and conquered (Indo-Europeans didn’t lose too many wars, except among themselves), differ quite radically.

    Considering that they went both ways from the Yamnaya Horizon’s original Pontic steppes, West and East, to Europe and north India, respectively, they would have encountered light-skinned ‘old Europeans’ on the one hand, and dark-skinned Indus Valley people on the other. That’s the biggest difference between the two groups right there, and may be significant, with respect to the caste system and perhaps more. But my own pet theory is that West and East were mostly playing out a dialectic of ideas, that likely dates back to 4000-3000BCE around lively campfires on high steppes and with spirited discussions.

    In this theory that dialectic is still being played out today, albeit in more ways than could ever have been imagined in the years BCE. The important thing is to not become a slave to your passions, though, even when you enjoy them, or when they cause you suffering. I’m reminded of Kramer’s statement to the ‘Soup Nazi’ in the old Seinfeld TV show: “You suffer for your art.” Touche’. Freedom FROM is the important thing in life after all, even more than freedom TO. Does it really matter whether you get the espresso or tamarind flavored ice cream today? Enjoy… 

     
  • hardie karges 7:15 am on March 3, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CHRISTIANITY, , , , , , , , ,   

    Buddhist Karma and the Middle Path to Salvation   

    You want good karma? Help a beggar to eat. That’s good karma. Because karma literally means ‘acts’ or ‘actions’, though it is often used almost synonymously with the English word ‘fate,’ as though it were all about some sort of predestination. But no, that’s a derivative meaning which may or may not always apply. The most important thing is right actions, or samma kammanta, as specified in the Eightfold Path that concludes the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism. 

    And that’s the important thing, to perform good acts, the other steps along the path, not unlike the Ten Commandments of Christianity, including right speech, right livelihood, and, of course, the basics: do not kill, do not steal, and for god’s sake don’t mess with your neighbor’s partner! Is nothing sacred? And if the Christians like to phrase that as ‘thou shalt not covet,’ then the Sanskrit is not so much different. They’re related languages and people, after all, and the Buddha puts ‘craving’ up there as the main cause of suffering. 

    But where East and West might truly differ, though, is in the speed and willingness to act. Because if we in the West see our active ‘go go go’ lifestyles as a normal and predictable outcome of our sojourn upon this planet, I can assure you that not everyone sees life and the world that way, least of all the rishis for which India is so famous, not to mention the pandits, gurus, swamis, and acharyas. And so, there’s a hidden message for them here also: Do something! After all, you can’t sit in a cave all your life, can you? Can you? 

     
  • hardie karges 10:48 am on January 15, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brahmin caste, , CHRISTIANITY, , , , , Hittite, , , Mittani, , , ,   

    Buddhism 101: Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions 

    Think good thoughts, speak good words, perform good acts. It’s contagious. It’s catching. It can make the difference between life and death. And that’s the bedrock of Buddhism, regardless of what the ‘rebirther’ Buddhists or the meditator Buddhists think, they tending to Vajrayana and Mahayanist persuasions, respectively, whether they know it or not, haha. Because the Buddha didn’t call his initial sermon the Four Noble Truths for nothing, and that’s Number One: Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions…

    And if that sounds a lot like a song by Franz Ferdinand, then so be it. And if that sounds a lot like the Ten Commandments, then so be it. It’s simple. It’s basic. It’s universal, as it should be. Now I won’t go into the fact that Four Noble Truths can also be translated Four Aryan Truths, but there may be a clue to its universality there. Hittites of Mideast fame were also Indo-Europeans and may have accomplished much more than merely be a thorn in the side of the Semites. The nearby Mittani culture also had close connections with Sanskrit speakers…

    But that’s neither here nor there, and only serves to agitate modern India’s Brahmin caste. What’s important is not nationalism, but rationalism, the kind that thinks before it speaks and looks before it leaps. That was implicit in the earliest Buddhism, also, with its insistence upon the acknowledgement of causes and conditions for all the phenomena of the world, not superstition or divine intervention. And that’s Dependent Origination in a nutshell, a theory that not only defines us, but combines us. We’re all in this together, literally. Be kind.

     
  • hardie karges 10:58 am on January 7, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CHRISTIANITY, , , , , , , ,   

    Buddhist Emptiness and the Path to Infinity… 

    Christians cling to abundance the way that Mahayana Buddhists cling to Emptiness. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. So, the appearance of exact conceptual opposition may be more apparent than real. Or maybe I’m obsessed with the reconciliation of these two opposites. The short story on Buddhist shunyata, i.e. ‘Emptiness’ (maybe not the best translation), is that it’s a logical conclusion to the previous early Buddhist insistence on anatta, i.e. ‘non-self’, in which not only is a permanent non-changing self not real, but in fact nothing is now real, not in the sense of something permanent.

    The problem is that the next logical conclusion to the previous logical conclusion is the very illogical conclusion that nothing is real in any sense, which is likely far from what the Buddha intended, thus leading to Zen, non-dualism, and other ersatz religions perfect for artists, intellectuals, and other spiritual seekers for whom simple silent meditation will never be enough. And I mean no insult to them, for whom I hold much sympathy and synchronicity, only that such lofty metaphysics are best for debates and dialectics, not for universal belief systems that might change the course of civilization.

    And to do that we’ll need to somehow reconcile the apparent opposites of West and East, Christianity and Buddhism. Emptiness might help here. For Christians are as obsessed with Infinity and Eternity (read ‘no limits’) as they are with abundance, an obvious similarity. You want infinity? Want eternity? Want a world without limits? No problem, it’s all around you. There’s only one problem: it’s empty. If you want stuff, then restrictions apply. Now if we can only sell Christians on the concept of conceptual abundance, not physical stuff, then we might have something. Stay tuned…

     
  • hardie karges 12:00 pm on December 2, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , CHRISTIANITY, , , , non-violence, , ,   

    Buddhism 499: Pacifism is not passivism… 

    This is one of the hardest lessons of Buddhism, balancing the dual extremes of not only luxury and lack, the Middle Path of Theravada Buddhism, but action and inaction, and ultimately existence and non-existence, the Middle Path of Mahayana. Given the truth that the source of much of our discontent is not to be found in the ‘outside’ world, but right in our own minds, the obvious temptation is to ignore that ‘outer’ world and simply adopt a passive approach towards it.

    But I don’t think that’s what the Buddha meant to imply. Sure, the non-violence of ahimsa is to be applied to every possible situation up to, but not including, our own self-destruction, but that does not mean that the larger world surrounding us, and which is the source of us, is to be ignored. It means not to get lost in that world exclusively, or, God forbid, attached to it, complete with cravings and unhealthy desires. And if this sounds like an abstract consideration, with scarce application to the ‘real’ world, then I can assure you that it is not.

    In fact, I avoided Buddhism for years in Thailand, judging that it was the cause of what I perceived to be the passivity of the culture, and concluding that that would not be a suitable choice for me, since I saw myself as too slow to act already, and that any further encouragement in that direction would not be suitable to my personal development. But sometimes conditions dictate causes, and other times I’m simply wrong.

    Because, compared to the dog-eat-dog USA, almost any place could be considered passive, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially in the age of Global Warming and never-ending warfare. The important conditions in this day and age are perfectly suited to Buddhism, even if a more aggressive Christianity was maybe more suited to a younger less-populated Earth—maybe. In any case, that was then. This is now. This is not a good time for fighting, and it may not even be a good time for celebrating, but it is definitely a good time for getting ourselves in sync with a better and more sustainable world. We’re playing for keeps here…

     
    • jonolan 7:49 am on December 3, 2022 Permalink | Reply

      Consider that, in the long run, a more aggressive, combative philosophy might be better for Man as a whole and the planet in general. You say that this isn’t the time for fighting. I posit that it just might be since it’s an moderately efficient way to lower the population while, at the same time, mingling gene pools.

      • hardie karges 1:40 pm on December 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply

        We can agree to disagree. I’m a pacifist. There are better ways to mix gene pools

        • jonolan 4:13 am on December 12, 2022 Permalink

          Certainly, to both agreeing to disagree and to the idea that there are better ways than variations of war to mix gene pools. But, not to thin them, which I find a potential real benefit at this point. 😉

          Well, I’m a big fan of smaller populations, but that involves birth control, not thinning, for me at least.

  • hardie karges 9:29 am on November 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CHRISTIANITY, ,   

    Good Karma: the Gift that Keeps on Giving… 

    Good karma occurs every day that you make a donation and someone benefits from it besides yourself. If you benefit from a gift, then there is another word for that: business, transaction, you name it. But the word ‘karma’ itself means ‘action,’ and so we Westerners have our own version of this admonition: ‘Actions speak louder than words,’ and so they do. But the word generally has a negative connotation, i.e. ‘bad karma,’ or something like cruel fate. So, what we want, then, is good karma, which necessitates good actions, and which has a connotation similar to ‘good luck.’

    For me, I’ve detected at least two different extant forms of karma as practiced in Buddhism, probably best exemplified by the Tibetan and Theravada forms, but which I tend to think of as ‘heavy’ and ‘lite,’ in order to avoid strict definitions and casual dismissals. Because I respect all forms of Buddhism, even if I personally prefer a mix of the original Theravada and the most recent secular, so something like the original ascetic discipline combined with the latest scientific knowledge, anything but silly superstition.

    The heavy karma version, best exemplified by Tibetan Buddhism, follows you around like some entity counting your transgressions, ready to give your performance a score which will determine whether you escape the wheels of samsara and rebirth to find a place in some better world, or whether you will ultimately be reborn to go another round in this hellscape. Now I won’t go into the ironies of the differing Eastern and Western approaches to Heaven and Hell. Suffice it to say that for me, this is beyond the bounds of science, so holds little sway in my life choices.   

    For me the important thing is to give, of your (non) self, your time, and of course: your money, because this is nothing if not a green imperfect world, far in concept from the perfect world of pure white light, as we imagine it. And if that seems like making a deal with the devil, then so be it. At least it’s a devil we know. But time is of the essence. To wait until the ‘time is right’ is often to miss the point entirely: time is an imperfect dimension, as are they all, and the human dimension especially so. We’re afflicted with disease, old age, poverty, and death, but these are conditions which can be mitigated. Give. It’s good karma.

     
  • hardie karges 12:06 pm on November 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CHRISTIANITY, consumption, , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism and Survival of the Species 

    Buddhism is more than just a religion or philosophy. It is a method for planetary survival, and that’s why we’re here right now. Because I care about planetary survival, and I hope that you do, too. And by ‘planet,’ I specifically mean the human race, since I have no doubt that the rock itself can continue to provide for itself, regardless of whether humans had ever shown up to sully the mix. But we are like DNA, and DNA is like language, and so we must cross our T’s and dot our I’s and make sense of random mutations.

    As soon as our survival was assured, we humans set about killing each other. And the coincidence of this with the invention of language may have not been so coincidental at all. Thus, once adopted, language has somehow become intrinsic to our existence, and so it is necessary to make our peace with it. Buddhism is famous for meditation, of course, and so that is one way of dealing with language, by losing it—powerful. Because for all the rap about insight, mindfulness, and ‘calm abiding,’ the one thing common to all meditation is silence. Guided meditation is something else.

    Christianity was fine when the human race was still young, and the need to breed was still arguably extant. But with eight billion people (and counting), the passion of Christ has long since been replaced by the passion of mice, breeding like rabbits and eating like wolves. This is not what the world needs right now. We’re a successful species, unless we continue to kill ourselves. I don’t think a species has ever gone extinct by mass suicide. But we could become the first, regardless of stated intents. Buddhism is one way to resolve this issue favorably, by choosing inner peace over mass consumption…

     
  • hardie karges 2:31 pm on October 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CHRISTIANITY, , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism and McMindfulness… 

    There is nothing mystical about meditation. It is a practical and helpful tool for self-improvement. It gets the woo-woo treatment big time, though, from the wannabe pandits and acharyas matching it up with ‘mindfulness’ and ‘lovingkindness’ for the big Buddhist-Christian one-two punch guaranteed to put McMindfulness in your sacred space and muesli in you breakfast nook. Did someone mention the New Age and/or Wellness communities?

    Because that’s what Buddhism is, of course, to the average American and/or Western European, one of a dozen or two systems (dare I say ‘disciplines?) on tap to inspire you to the next level of awareness, sati, which is precisely the same word so often translated as ‘mindfulness’ for its salutary effect on the brain’s language centers. And at the same time, it also guarantees a course to be taught somewhere in the cool part of town, thereby guaranteeing the acceptance and continuance of such a tradition regardless of its intrinsic connection to Buddhism—or not.

    Because, in the debate over just how much of Buddhism can be downloaded to the surrounding community without concern over cultural appropriation or misappropriation of intent and purpose, meditation is the one thing that definitely CAN be offloaded for the layman’s typical—even commercial—applications. Like yoga for Hindus, meditation is the one aspect of Buddhism which is truly universal, and which does NOT require a secret handshake. You simply follow certain techniques for certain effects.

    The names can be confusing and causes and effects can be conflated and even reversed, such that one technique is called by its desired effect, but the techniques are generally similar, just sit down, STFU, and concentrate—on not much, either some one thing internally or the whole broad spectrum externally. Some techniques uses mantras, as made famous by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation™ (pun intended), but many Theravada Buddhists simply repeat the name “Buddho, Buddho, Buddho.”

    As Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan character often said: “Stop the internal dialogue.” When that happens, then you have returned to proto-consciousness and thereby recover something which you had lost with language, sati and samadhi, awareness and concentration (one-pointedness). In the process, then, you will hopefully receive samatha, calmness, or vipassana, insight, but the technique is similar. What you do with it is up to you. Being nice to people is always a good place to start.

     
    • SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ 4:42 pm on November 5, 2022 Permalink | Reply

      Dear Hardie Karges,

      Your post entitled “Buddhism and McMindfulness…” is very enjoyable to read and definitely timely and topical. Thank you very much. I concur with you about the issues regarding McDonaldization and appropriation.

      I would like to inform you that one of my latest posts can be of considerable interest to you, for I have distilled a great deal of observations and conclusions along similar themes. It concerns being present in the moment with awareness and (engaged) mindfulness. This highly engaging and expansive post is entitled “🔄📈📉 Change Rules and Moment Matters: How to Stay in the Moment 🔖🕰️🔂“, published at

      https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2022/08/19/change-rules-and-moment-matters-how-to-stay-in-the-moment/

      The said post opens with this paragraph:

      A spiritual outlook with a minimalist perspective on life that is conducive to happiness is often predicated on living in the present moment through mindful awareness emancipated from the vagaries of the subconscious and the itinerants of the mind.

      This post discusses mindfulness, meditation, spirituality, religion, Nature and so on. I welcome your input since I am curious to know what you make of my said post as well as your perspectives on those matters discussed in my post. I look forward to savouring your feedback there!

      There are many quotations distributed throughout the post. The quotees include Buddha, Thích Nhất Hạnh, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Werner Hans Erhard, Jack Kornfield and Elizabeth Thornton.

      Thank you once again for your pertinent and cogently written post.

      Wishing you a mindful and suitably productive November doing or enjoying whatever that satisfies you the most, both intellectually and spiritually!

      Yours sincerely,
      SoundEagle

      • hardie karges 11:52 am on November 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for your comments. Sorry to get back to you so slowly, but I’ve been traveling (and my laptop is dying). I’ll try to take a closer look at this now. Thanks!

        • SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ 4:23 pm on November 13, 2022 Permalink

          Dear Hardie Karges,

          You are welcome. The 13th of November is World Kindness Day! Wishing you a productive November and a wonderful week doing or enjoying whatever that satisfies you the most, whether intellectually, artistically, physically, spiritually or emotionally!

          I look forward to your submitting a comment to my said post as a token of your visit.

          Yours sincerely,
          SoundEagle

  • hardie karges 9:13 am on September 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CHRISTIANITY, , , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism and the Nature of Self/Not-Self… 

    The notion of self is a linguistic convenience. But language is not reality. And this is one of the debates in Buddhism, of course, not so much the exact nature of ‘self,’ which is proscribed in Buddhism (with an ‘o,’ not ‘e’), but more the exact nature of ‘not-self,’ or ‘no-self,’ that distinction itself often at the crux of the debate, as if there were any real difference, as if it really mattered. Because what matters is that this is not the Hindu cosmic self nor the Christian eternal self, both of which are not what the Buddha envisioned for his group of followers and his emerging view of the world.

    But what exactly did he envision for the self? Not much, apparently. Best guesses are the (s)khandhas, or ‘heaps’ of causes and conditions that he enumerated to constitute the typical person sans persona that is typically referred to, though many modern Buddhists like to wax long and hard on the ego and ensuing egolessness that would obviously result from that starting point. But our concept of ‘ego’ is so tied to Freud’s concept of id, ego, and superego that it may be misleading. Because I’m sure that the Buddha had no such wild notions.

    The Freudian ego also makes the same mistake that the Buddha was trying to solve, positing self as a thing, or something, anyway, which is an independent actor on an ever-shifting stage, when the actions themselves were much more important, as modern psychology now acknowledges the behavior, rather than some elaborate tripartite self, so like verbs not nouns. The Buddha might even go a step farther and see the composite self as a collection of adjectives, thus tendencies to act, not even dignified by the actions themselves.

    I’m sure that he had our modern notion of selfishness in mind, though, so we have that much in common, what with his obsessions with craving and desire. And that’s where Buddhism has much to say about our modern consumeristic economies and lifestyles to the point that ‘stuff’ becomes the meaning of our lives. This is a trap, of course, and a never-ending cycle of unfulfillment. After all, how can things satisfy us if we ourselves are essentially non-things? Sometimes the world is too much with us. Even the Buddha and Wordsworth could agree on that. The Buddha called it samsara….

     
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