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  • hardie karges 12:45 pm on November 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , dark matter, Ecclesiastes, Gurkha, , Nepalese, Pete Seeger, , , , The Byrds   

    Buddhism by the Book: Circular Arguments in Cyclical Existence… 

    “In springtime grow flowers. In summer grow fruit. In autumn count blessings. In winter take root,” I once said in a playful moment. In Christianity, of course, that sentiment is made famous in the quote, “To everything there is a season,” as originally expounded in the Biblical selection Ecclesiastes 3: 1-13, and brilliantly revised early in my lifetime in the work of Pete Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” and made famous by The Byrds, back when they were skinny.

    The meaning and essence of the thought expressed, of course, is the rhythm and circularity of the seasons. But I think it works equally well in Buddhism, or any other belief system, for that matter, in that by extrapolation, it perhaps can apply to the entire universe.

    We know little of the universe, though, so it is usually visualized in its macrocosmic view as planets in motion, even if the reality is equally a microcosm, if not more so, i.e. particles. But in its macro view, we see the revolution of moons around planets around stars around a poorly defined black hole center, and that is usually enough to convince us that there is at least some order to the universe, with or without an omnipotent creator, with or without an omniscient plan, aka ‘intelligent design.’

    This is again one of the pet projects of fundamentalist Christians, notwithstanding the likelihood that a God of true engineering capabilities could have come up with many mind-blowing designs, rather than the same one over and over with design adaptations that can easily be explained by natural selection if not epigenetics.

    But most Buddhists find their circularity in various iterations of the theme of rebirth and past lives, something which was never really the Buddha’s Big Idea, but which he’d have likely been foolish to reject, but not the latter-day obsession with it, in an almost inverse proportion to its scientific viability.

    But that is the difference between religion and philosophy, that religion craves certainty, even where no certainty exists, and not casual musings, or even a healthy dialectic. Scientists have no such illusions. And the best philosophers are scientists, and vice versa, with or without the background in math or Plato.

    So physicists today get an undefined Dark Matter occupying most of the universe, philosophers get Wittgenstein’s defenestration of language, and Buddhists after 2500 years get a soft pad on a cold floor with some bloke blabbing in the background, when I’d really rather meditate ‘like the Buddha did’—silently.

    In almost every ancient Buddhist text, if you translate ‘samsara’ as ‘the world’ instead of ‘cyclic existence,’ it stills makes as much, if not more, perfect sense. Coincidentally the language which today preserves more Sanskrit than any other language, Nepalese aka Gurkha, uses the word ‘sansara’ to mean ‘the world,’ no accident. In Hindi they use ‘dunia,’ from the Arabic. They probably got tired of cyclic existence. But let’s not argue. The only thing to argue for is the end of all argument. That is the only cyclic existence that I know…

     
  • hardie karges 6:04 am on July 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , center, dark matter, , , , , , sunya, sunyata,   

    Buddhism, shunyata and the cult of zero… 

    IMG_1559The Buddhist doctrine of shunyata is one of its most famous, and the one that put Mahayana Buddhism on the map, a full step beyond what was envisioned with the original teachings of the Buddha, yet well within that purview. It is usually translated as ’emptiness’ or ‘voidness’, though I prefer ‘zero-ness’, in recognition of the fact that the word ‘shunya’ or ‘sunya’ literally means just that, zero, and in the modern standard language of every Theravada Buddhist country today, still means just that, or a derivation thereof…

    And if that sounds a bit spacey and abstract, it’s probably best thought of as an extended version of the Buddha’s doctrine of anatta or ‘no-self’, or no soul or no ego, i.e. no intrinsic reality to the human personality, which, according to this theory, is merely a collection of (s)kandhas, literally ‘heaps’ of transient characteristics with no permanence… (More …)

     
    • quantumpreceptor 6:29 am on July 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Hey great post and expansion of the zero idea. Even for the fact that zero has been named means that it is something.
      Have you heard of sunyata as being explained as empty of? Empty of its own or independent existence?

      QP

      • hardie karges 7:15 am on July 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks. Yes, I think that your definition is the most commonly accepted one, and if I didn’t say that, then I meant to. Mostly I just wanted to give some context to the development of the doctrine. It seems that ‘shunya’ was discussed even in the Buddha’s time, becoming ‘shunyata’ later on. The invention of the zero was a really big deal, and it just may have much more to do with the development of Buddhism than is commonly acknowledged, a thesis I intend to investigate further. Thanks for your comment…

        • quantumpreceptor 12:23 pm on July 17, 2018 Permalink

          Yes, Hardie, that’s a really interesting idea to develop that further, I can’t wait.

          As for being a discussed​​, I would even say that it was a hot topic. In Tibetan, we have three words rangtong, shentong, and detong. The tong comes from tongpanyi which is Tibetan for shunyata. Rangtong is empty of self-nature​. Many see only rangtong as nihilistic nits nature. Shentong is described as emptiness with something on top. The idea here was that because it could be experienced that the experience was part of reality. This was debated as being materialistic.

          Detong is also very interesting. De comes from Dewa and means great bliss. So detong is seen as the great joy that arises from emptiness. This happens when mind recognizes its own radiant space.

          You may look at these three terms as competing ideas and to some extent be correct. However, you may also see them as a natural progression as one leading to the next as if they were steps along the way. I cannot wait to find out more about your zero theory.

          QP

    • Dave Kingsbury 4:52 pm on July 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Some great practical suggestions that could give town planners something to think about. If they aren’t an endangered species! Seriously, they worry about what to do with empty shops … community hubs? You bring this abstract subject to life by relating it to modern discoveries and issues eg. “It should be noted that this is not much different from the logical conclusions to be drawn from a thorough consideration of the implications of the reality depicted by quantum mechanics: things are not real, not really”

      • hardie karges 6:13 pm on July 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        I’ve always loved Mexican cities, with the central park and lots of community space. I always assumed it was a Spanish thing, but it may actually be pre-Columbian. And what with ‘high streets’ now under the assault of online shopping, it’s probably time to reassess the role of cities…

        • Dave Kingsbury 11:50 am on July 17, 2018 Permalink

          I’d love to think we had matured enough to take considered stock of the past and come up with a better future, though I fear we might be too locked in our mad consumer present …

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