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  • hardie karges 10:57 am on August 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CHRISTIANITY, Dhammapada, , , , ,   

    Present Moment vs Past Lives, Buddhism vs Christianity… 

    “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Fake Buddha Quotes

    “Do not dwell on the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment,” is a saying that is often attributed to the Buddha, but in fact is not, and even qualifies as a ‘Fake Buddha Quote,’ though it is not so far off the mark, really. As explained in that FBQ website, the quote itself comes from a 1934 Japanese Buddhist booklet, but ultimately seems to derive from the Dhammapada verse 348 which literally says something like (depending on the translation from Pali):

    Let go of the past, let go of the future.
    Let go of the present. Having gone beyond becoming,
    with mind completely freed,
    you will never again come to birth and aging.

    So that’s ‘Same same but different,’ as we say in Thai pidgin English. The FBQ website’s articulation is well worth reading, but my main take on it is that the present is also rejected, which best makes the point of the Buddhist foundation in renunciation, not ‘present moment,’ which is probably best described as Eckhart Tolle’s philosophy, possibly via that same Japanese thread. Which is all fine and good, as far as it goes. The problem is that it doesn’t really go very far. And neither does the Buddhist renunciation principle, which is very Jain-like in essence.

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  • hardie karges 11:24 am on July 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , CHRISTIANITY, , , , , 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: , cargo cult, CHRISTIANITY, , , ,   

    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 11:18 am on June 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , chesed, CHRISTIANITY, 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 12:17 pm on January 24, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhis, CHRISTIANITY, communist, democratic, , optimistic, pessimistic,   

    Buddhism and the Sutra of the Half-Empty Cup… 

    We are hooked on abundance. We are addicted to excess. But the purest form of beauty can be found in ‘shunyata,’ vast and eternal–and empty. And this is the curse of Western civilization, that we have been fed this lie of infinity and eternity, of matter, and no limits to it as far as the eye can see, ‘sky is the limit’ and all that rap.

    But this is a deadly miscalculation, and I use the word ‘miscalculation’ instead of ‘lie’ to avoid the sin and fallacy of misplaced intention, when it really makes no difference in the final equation whether it was intended or not, that being only a moral issue between a man and his Maker, or in this case his vessel.

    Because the vessel, any vessel, best represents Emptiness, the Source, that propensity and potentiality, while the contents are the stuff of the world. Thus we have the old Aristotelian dichotomy between form and content, revisited in the Buddhist dichotomy between emptiness and matter.

    But the only infinity, or eternity, is in that Emptiness, and the matter that constitutes the objects of everyday life are by definition of limited duration in time and space, ephemeral. But don’t tell that to a junkie. A junkie knows that just one more dose is all he needs to last a lifetime, and that lifetime is eternity, of course, infinitely extendable, and with no fences in sight.

    So we Westerners love the old conundrum of the half-empty cup, this satisfying our need for closure on issues of good or bad, Communist or Democratic, and most importantly, of course—optimistic or pessimistic. Because we love the optimistic person above all others, the one who is ‘full of life,’ notwithstanding that he, too, will die, unless we get that vaccine, that life dose, perfected in the nick of time, and available at Walgreen’s, under contract with Johnson and Johnson, to provide eternal life at a reasonable price.

    And the current thinking is that that just might happen one day, if only we are patient. Thus Christianity makes a promise that it knows that it can’t keep, because life, by definition, is intimately associated with death. What would eternal life even be like, fer Chrissakes, all puns intended? The small print doesn’t specify life in what form, of course, whether old or young, in sickness or in health, just that in death we will part, and be rendered asunder into component parts.

    Buddhism is more honest, of course, to the extent that it is itself freed from its wildest fantasies and fears. But I can assure you that you don’t really want that life without limits. You just think that you do, because it is so fantastical. Who wouldn’t try it, at least once, just for the sake of the experience? Ask any junkie.

    But those limits, if we choose to accept them, are not only profound, but they are beautiful, sublime, and endearing, works of art blessed by the art of work. But best of all, it’s warm in here, warm and cozy and with no shortage of company. Please come join us. A cup half full is just fine. If it runneth over, then you’ve got a leak somewhere. Provide napkins just in case. Call a plumber if the problem persists…

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

    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: , CHRISTIANITY, , 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: , , CHRISTIANITY, , , 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 1:03 pm on December 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bet, , , CHRISTIANITY, , epistemology, gambling, , , trifecta,   

    Buddhism 201: There are no Winners and Losers… 

    In the best negotiations and most serious debates, everybody should walk away happy. This is the secret to all good dealings, of course, but all too often forgotten, in the rush to seal deals, and replace stocks, and return to life as normal, on the battlefields of commerce and contentment, where the fruits of life are often commodities, and the rewards are consumption, a vaguely full sensation, quickly desiring something more or better, as if there is no balance.

    But balance there must be if happiness is truly our goal, and that is the open secret of the Middle Path, something so simple, and something so sublime, that it is easily overlooked in the rush to judgment and the customary division of spoils among victors. But did the losers really lose, and if so, then what exactly did they lose? And did the winners really win, and if so, then what exactly did they win?

    The short answer is that no one really knows, and so any bettor worth his chips knows that to cover your assets, you hedge your bets, and hopefully cover the spread in the process. Because not only do we never know whether we truly win or lose, but by even less will we know by how much.

    And that balancing act is more than smart business; it is an epistemological reality, if not necessarily a metaphysical one, which it may indeed very well be. And this is the beauty of agnosticism, which is often reduced in value by vague insinuations that it is avoiding a decision by refusing to take sides. But that is one of the fundamental facts of life and the world: absolute knowledge is simply unknowable.

    This becomes a tautology, of course, in the sense that we are claiming to know that unknowability, but that does not diminish its value, no, or at least not by much. We simply cut the conversation short to avoid endless reductions and descensions into a void. Don’t you wish everybody did?

    So Buddhism as a philosophy is fundamentally an open doctrine, even if Buddhism as a religion is saddled with karma, rebirth, and past lives as customary baggage, just as Christianity comes pre-packaged with democracy and capitalism, the trifecta of hedged bets within the trinity of no limits. And that is as much a myth as reincarnation and past lives, though it doesn’t catch so much flack for it by the simple trick of perception bias: we can’t see the forest we live in for all the trees that stand in the way.

    So we assume by instinct that there is an underlying fundamental reality, even if we are hard pressed to say exactly what it is. Somehow some way it simply is, as Nature is, sublime in its silence, commanding in its occasional outbursts. After all, if the lion and the lamb are raised together in the same crib, then any future violence is unlikely. Thus the dharma is simply an admonition to be like that, like nature. You’ll know it when you see it. Mindful silence is better than mindless chatter almost any day.

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

    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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