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  • 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…

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  • 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….

     
  • hardie karges 11:02 am on September 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , CHRISTIANITY, , , , , sarmatha, , ,   

    Buddhism 499: Self-control and the Benefits of Meditation 

    Self-control should not be an affront to your Western freedoms. It should be the foundation of your Eastern practices. But this is a tough pill for many Westerners to swallow, because it invokes the dreaded ‘C’ word, control, mattering not to many that self-control is a totally different activity than controlling others, which for me is a hideous affair, usually. Self-control, on the other hand, is the cause and effect of some of my life’s finest moments, not the least of which are simple meditative moments, the practical foundation of Buddhism.

    And all Asian monks know this, and can attest to it fully, while Westerners resist and desist, and their meditative practices often show it, twitching and flinching while struggling to finish a half-hour of meditation, while I’ve seen even Asian laypeople sit motionless for hours. But was it sarmatha or was it vipassana or was it mindfulness meditation or was it that new style that somebody was doing on TV? And there’s TM, the one that the Beatles made famous, with their Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and which has gone on to be bliss of choice for Hindu-style practice, complete with secret password.

    But all Buddhist practices derive from some version of anapanasati, awareness of breath, and to there they all return—eventually. And to be aware is very much within the practice of control. Because you don’t really have to do much of anything to meditate properly. But there are some things that you should definitely NOT do, and distractions are at the top of that list. Life itself can be extrapolated from this practice, also, giving meditation a central place and practice in your life. It’s simply a good approach to life, calm and collected, and likely to produce a ripple effect that radiates outward. Don’t you wish everybody would participate?

    So, if you’re looking for something like ayahuasca, then Buddhism is the wrong place to look. Because there is nothing here, really, to get excited about, and just the opposite, in fact. There is much here to get calm about—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but without all the weeping wailing and gnashing of teeth. We Westerners are emotion junkies, though that doesn’t mean that we are ‘evil,’ as certain pro-Putin pushers suggest outright. What the West loves was perfect for a world growing up and reproducing itself. What Buddhism offers is perfect for a world finding itself. The future is at stake.

     
  • hardie karges 8:33 am on July 31, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CHRISTIANITY, , , , , Magi, magic, , ,   

    Buddhism 498: Emptiness is the Path to Infinity 

    If you’re doing it right, then one day a sense of calmness will come over you, as the zeroes take over, and the fractions become less, a mind divided unable to reproduce itself properly, and the ensuing life even less. Because language knows no natural limit, and so will run on until stopped, vowels and consonants forming verbs and nouns like chickens and eggs, and no one knows which came first, since no one was taking notes in a class too crowded for convenience and too full for breath…

    But people wonder why meditate, since there’s so little time and so little space, that to waste any extra must certainly be counter-intuitive, but, in reality, the exact opposite is the case. Because meditation creates more time and more space in the process of killing it, such that if you really want to experience infinity, then the only way to do that is with emptiness.

    Because infinity cannot exist full of stuff, and that is fundamental to the concept, and who would want it anyway, except a kid at Christmas before the sun’s even up, learning the false lesson of abundance under the magic of the Magi, who got lost on the way to Bethlehem, but couldn’t see any reason to let a good story go to waste? So, a kid in a manger becomes the unlikely savior of humanity, when all we really wanted was a full belly and an empty mind, empty of hate and anger, with Big Ideas optional.

    But we can do that on command with a little silence and a lot of discipline, let the confusion die down and out, and be reborn in spirit every hour of every day with a little self-control and a lot of kindness, creating a world of forgiveness and reconciliation, instead of aggression and competition, for access to scarce resources, to create even more, when the obvious answer is to first consume even less. And that is the difference between Buddhism and Christianity, to consume less or produce more, when the truth lies somewhere in between.

     
  • hardie karges 11:44 am on July 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CHRISTIANITY, , , , , , id, , , , , ,   

    Buddhism 101: Anger is a Warning Sign of Impending Danger… 

    Anger is like a lying dog, that, when provoked, rises up in consciousness, and strikes the nearest hand that most recently fed it. Because it’s blind, and usually vicious, hatefulness optional, and it infects everything it touches, anger does. But it’s not always so easy to recognize, because it comes in many forms, most often in concert with hatred, true, but equally conversant with deception and denigration and the other delusions of sense perception, always a prime source of suffering, no matter the particular place and time in question…

    And then there is the other ‘poison’ of Buddhism, besides hatred and delusion, which is greed, or sensual desire, with which anger is also often associated. But sometimes the symptom is worse than the disease, and this could often be one of those cases, in which the anger is worse than the moha, raga, or dvesha itself. These are also variously known as the Three Unwholesome Roots and the Three Kileshas, which are also available in a convenient Five-Pack for serious abusers, but who’s counting?

    Still, it all counts as demerit in a lifestyle that prides itself on making merit, and doing good, and so worth making a sea change in order to avoid the choppy waves, right? But that gets into issues of global warming and rising sea levels, when simply wearing a life jacket and learning how to swim might accomplish much the same thing in a much shorter amount of time. Why get a brain operation if a pill can cure the headache? That’s what I want to know.

    Hatred, delusion, and greedy attachments can take a lifetime to cease, overcome, or even diminish, much less cure, though, so in the meantime please do us all a favor and control your anger, okay? It becomes you. And there are many American Buddhist ‘teachers’ who might disagree with that, but they may not be so smart, after all, since they often look to Freud and Jung, rather than Buddha, for inspiration, as if the notion of superego were somehow scientific and Freud’s ego were what the Buddha was really talking about in denouncing the Brahmanistic cosmic atta/atman. It wasn’t. So, let go of all anger, the sooner the better. It sucks.

     
  • hardie karges 1:42 pm on July 10, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: antithesis, , , CHRISTIANITY, , , , , , , , synthesis, , thesis,   

    Buddhism in the Bardo: the Language of Dialectic and the Silence of Meditation… 

    Language cannot solve the problems that language creates. Only silence can do that. This is one of those inherent little foundations of Buddhism, also, like non-aggression and the limits to fulfillment, that often get lost in the shuffle of rebirth, karma, and the endless choices of past lives. But that is the essence of philosophy, and religion, to find some reason to live, without expending too much time and energy in the process, and so often that involves divine intervention—or magic…

    And that’s where Buddhism tried to be different, at least in the beginning, though the pressure to spice things up is almost irresistible, and so Buddhism was not so much different. Like Christianity a few hundred years later, it started with basic precepts, or commandments, and proceeded from that humble starting point. And to be honest, the starting points of Buddhism and Christianity were not so much different in their original conceptions.

    Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat: the basic precepts were very similar in the Abrahamic religions of the Mideast and the Dharmic religions of India. They weren’t that far apart, really, geographically or conceptually, so that may be more than a coincidence. Considering the Aryan migration eastward, also, now proven genetically, the ‘meeting of East and West’ may not have been much more than a meeting at the most convenient location, rather than some journey that required Marco Polos, Fa Hians, and Ibn Battutahs to accomplish, though they did that, too…  

    But Buddhism went through much more of a dialectical process of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, over the course of its 2500 years, something implied if not intended, in its mantra of the Middle Path between extremes, so that the three major schools of Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana can be seen in precisely that light, something like discipline and devotion having babies, and calling it Dharma. But at the core of them all was always meditation, and that was silent. Christianity still hasn’t learned that trick. Maybe one day they will.

     
  • hardie karges 7:05 am on April 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CHRISTIANITY, , , , , , , ,   

    Buddhist Metta in the Age of Social Media… 

    Metta is simple and one of the cornerstones of Buddhism: friendship, simple friendship. Or call it ‘loving-kindness’ if that reconciles you with the Hebrew chesed of your Judeo-Christian tradition. Just note that it is not the passion that is usually associated with Christian ‘loving-kindness,’ not even the passionate embrace of a mother and her child. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it’s not necessary. What’s necessary is that the child not experience fear and anger and other defilements and afflictions.

    But we Westerners, particularly Americans, are raised on a diet of emotional cocktails, roller-coasters and built-in toasters, speeding up and then putting on brakes, heating up and then cooling our feet, such that life is nothing but one vast mood swing, which we must then ‘shrink’ by repeated visits to the therapist of our choice. To be a ‘bad-ass’ is a compliment in the US of A, and it shows in our interactions with the world. We fight our enemies to the death on battlefields, while never questioning the enemy within.

    This is one reason why it’s so difficult for Americans to be good Buddhists. Because we look for enlightenment in dialogue and debate, rather than the silence that brilliantly illustrates Emptiness, if not strictly define it. Because we look for our meditation in the words of some endless rap from some best-selling app from the online app-store of one of the world’s richest men, rather than that same silence which the Buddha himself used, as do thousands of monks to this day.

    And whether those monks win or lose the debates that some “spiritual bad-asses” (actual quote) find so rewarding and illuminating is not important. What’s important is quieting the mind (i.e. consciousness) by the necessary hours of silent and still sitting that make life itself the only reward necessary for a rewarding existence. All the cars and bars and Hollywood stars on assorted sh*t-stained sidewalks are but illustrations in a magazine that most people can’t sit still long enough to actually read.

    Compared to these challenges, metta is a literal piece of cake, to be shared with friends on any given day, and maybe even twice on Sunday, or Christmas, or Easter. The world is our sangha, our community, and strangers are as much a part of that as family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. In fact, that can be its greatest reward, communion with strangers as if they were lifelong friends. You can’t know that pleasure until you test those waters. The first rule of friendship is to be friendly, simple. Smile. Happy Easter. Happy Buddhist New Year.

     
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