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  • hardie karges 8:30 am on August 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , dharma, , , , , logos, Persia,   

    Was Heraclitus the Original Buddhist? 

    Was Heraclitus the Original Buddhist? If not, he certainly missed a good opportunity, because it was he who once said: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river, and he’s not the same man.” And a clearer and more succinct articulation of the Buddhist principles of anatta and anicca have never been spoken, the former best defined as ‘non-self’ or ‘no self,’ particularly in the sense of a permanent eternal soul like that of the contemporaneous Brahmanic religion, or Hinduism, as we now know it. But of course Heraclitus was not a Buddhist, per se, but a philosopher of change, and maybe best known for his other famous quote: “The only thing permanent is change.”

    And so he tackles two major Buddhist themes—self and change—with no knowledge of the Buddha himself, apparently, though the possibilities are there. I’ve written often about the genetic and cultural connections between the Greek and Indian philosophers, so I won’t do that now, but it’s interesting that not only do they share significant genetic ancestry, but are contemporaneous in the case of Heraclitus, who lived almost exactly the same time as the Buddha. Add to that the fact that he and the other Ionian philosophers were technically part of the Persian Empire, which spanned the entirety of the 2000mi/3000km between the Greek and Indian mainlands, so it’s tempting to speculate.

    Maybe they had Twitter pigeons? Ha! But the main difference is that the Buddha saw change as a cause of suffering, second only to craving, and Heraclitus did not. For him it was simply a fact of life, like fire, for him the basic ‘stuff’ of existence, as with the Vedic ‘acharyas’ and ‘pandits.’ ‘Basic stuff’ was the obsession of all pre-Socratic philosophers, many of them Ionian, the original word that meant ‘Greek’ in most Asian languages. His logos was also very dharma-like, and Buddhist dharma, in particular, is not fixed, but flexible enough to adapt to a variety of circumstances over time and over space.

    Whether the Buddha intended it that way or not is debatable, but if he considers change a source of suffering, then it is doubtful. That’s just the way it is, and thus proof of the reality, if not the suffering. The suffering is yours—or not. I remember crying when my family moved from the city to the countryside when I was eight years old. Now I seek out new countries all the time, 155 and counting. So, it is not a source of suffering for me, obviously. Thus, the Buddha may have made the mistake of over-generalizing. He was only human, after all. The transcendent Buddha came later. That’s Mahayana: Zen and all that jazz. Craving is still the main cause of suffering, that and attachment to self, as ego. That’s the other aspect of self to be avoided, however impermanent, always doomed to fail.

     
  • hardie karges 12:00 pm on April 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , dharma, , ,   

    Bi-polar No-lock Pandemic Sutra… 

    Once upon a time there were only two continents in the World, East and West. They were similar in many ways, but the way in which they were most different were their ways of thinking, especially abstract thinking. For instance, the West saw the world and life as something that should be full to overflowing, with everything, of course, apparently related to their belief in limitlessness, infinity, eternity, depending on the context, and most eloquently: Abundance, as the norm. The East, on the other hand, saw Emptiness as the norm, with profound acceptance of limitations, that were at one and the same time as beautiful as they were comforting, as reassuring as they were defining.

    (More …)
     
  • hardie karges 1:14 pm on March 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , dharma, , , Dyaus Pitra, , Mata, mise-en-scene, mutation, , Prithvi, , ,   

    Buddha in the Raw: Nature is the Dharma of Birth… 

    People come and go. Events come and go. But dharma is always there, hand in hand with Nature. In fact, in at least a couple or three SE Asian languages, the word for ‘Nature’ itself translates from the original Pali/Sanskrit as ‘Dharma of Birth,’ jati in its original meaning as ‘birth’ long before it came to supplant varna as the most common word for Indian caste, in a more polite form connected to job description, apparently, as if birth were all about some inherited profession, and not the deep ancestry, mostly defined in the popular imagination by color, varna, long before we could count mutations on the y-DNA sex chromosome, and ultimately define the haplogroup in stages, simply by its imperfections in transmission, just like all attempts at eternal life. Breathe deeply.

    And thank God for that Y-chromosome, so that we can reproduce sexually, rather than by other lesser means and mixtures. But the dharma is intrinsically involved, and that is the point, whether in molecular makeup or some concept far removed, in language, DNA’s lofty handmaiden, jealous of DNA, even long before its discovery, and desirous of co-opting that proclivity into the various nominal grunts and syllabic sonic glides that connect hard consonants verbally into molecular syllables capable of standing alone but always looking for partners to run with, creating words and sentences and paragraphs and histories, all under the auspices of simple reproduction, conceptually rather than biologically, and capable of moving through space without stepping incrementally into the medium of space, but rather capable of quantum leapfrogging through the intervening leagues in an instant or less, with or without the materialistic crutches of light and sound.

    We are imperfect creatures of the void and the stuff, any dualism merely implied but not intended, since the 1 and the 0 of stuff and void are ultimately reconcilable into a common source whether conceptual or mathematical, and who’s to know the difference anyway? Dualism and non-dualism are but snapshots in time, incapable of independent existence, and often confused for far greater achievements than they really aspire to. For insertion of the thing into the void is merely the mise-en-scene for a movie into which we were born and from which we will die, scarcely even pretending to know the reasons why or wherefore, simply that it is thus and will be recorded as such by any witness capable of the feat. There are more important things to do and accomplish in the short time allotted to any given system of biological life, and that is the task to which we are beholden as children of the Sun and Moon, in their earthly representations, Dyaus Pitra and Prithvi Mata, Sky Father and Earth Mother, reproducing throughout an uncertain infinity. It is thus. Let old mourning become new mornings, and rebirth can occur in spirit, not flesh…

     
  • hardie karges 11:18 am on August 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , dharma, , ,   

    Buddhism and Nature: the Law of Birth… 

    Nature is ธรรมชาติ, ‘dhammachaht,’ dharma jati, the dharma of birth, not the law of rebirth, in at least a few Asian languages, and likely a few more. And that is probably as good a definition of it as I could come up with, notwithstanding the fact that such a ‘birth’ does indeed become for many a ’round’ of which there are many, and which can neither be proven or disproven, ultimately, but for which there is no intrinsic logic, nor empirical evidence…

    But when we Westerners think of Nature, what do we think of, if not something wild and free, and so a tight fit into our narrative of liberty, and the delightful disobedience which that implies, for we love nothing so much as breaking the rules, ALL the rules, if not all the time, then at least as often as we can get away with it…

    But does Nature do that? Not hardly, I don’t think, and the typical Asian view, by invoking ‘dharma,’ is certainly likening it to a law, and therefore something which we disobey only at great risk to ourselves. But that doesn’t mean that Nature is something written in stone, or on crinkled crackling paper, and the ink stains that have dried upon some lines…

    No, nature is something changing, even if the laws invoked may indeed be unchanging—or not. Thus the first rule of DNA—sh*t happens, i.e. mutations occur, and that becomes the raw material for evolution. Now the central dogma of the science of genetics is that these mutations are random, which may or may not be true, but there is much anecdotal evidence that there may indeed be more to it than that, but for which firm and verifiable evidence is heretofore lacking…

    And that doesn’t even consider the fact of so-called ‘genetic drift,’ which no one can or will deny, but only damn by the faint praise of its ‘driftiness,’ thus removing it from any consideration as something maybe far more serious in terms of cause and/or effect…

    All of which is to say that the role of consciousness in evolution cannot be ruled out, even if some commentaries may have jumped the gun in ascribing to it more than its genuine worth, i.e. “consciousness affects evolution; evolution affects consciousness…”

    But this does nothing to minimize the miracle of birth, regardless, which is certainly not random, even if the product of the most random and brutal orgy, which is fortunately not usually the case, even if the Latin-inspired ‘romance’ may indeed often be lacking on cold dark nights in tight cramped corners….

    But Buddhism is more concerned with the suffering implicit, and it is certainly a fact that death is implied in the ‘law of birth’ and that is the proof of the prevalence of suffering, if only by a 51-49% advantage in the scores and statistics. For the world may be defined by its limits and its suffering, but there is much beauty, also, in Nature and Art, and the consciousness of it…

     
  • hardie karges 11:48 am on July 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , dharma, , Koran, ,   

    Rapping on Rebirth and Reincarnation, in the Failed State of a Rental Car Nation… 

    The best rebirth is the one that occurs every day. That’s the one that comes right after the Koranic ‘little death’ that occurs each night, and right before the large plate of bangers, beans, and mash with which we submit to break our fast…

    And that little baptism indeed feels better than mere goodliness, a splash in the face, and a new start to the race, and no shame short of crying that we have to go and spoil it all by a mad dash to some sh*t-stained place of work, four corners and a stool from which to count more beans and pretend that this is what drives our evolution…

    Language loses all logic in transmission and translation, so what we strive for becomes strife, and the passion we suffer becomes the passion we love, and we fool ourselves into thinking that it’s all from above, when in reality we struggle to make sense of the simplest things—life, love and the happiness of pursuit, in the face of disease, pestilence, and a plenitude of nemeses…

    So let’s call it the ‘little rebirth’ so as not to confuse it with the big ‘R’ of karmic retribution, and reincarnation, jumping generations and landing on layered platforms, slathered thick with that special sauce of multiple feedback loops, such that we can never escape the prison of consciousness, creating enough past lives to fill volumes of pre-history, such that bad karma apparently extends before the birth of the human race, by conservative estimate…

    But can we be blamed for something that predates the birth of consciousness and so intent, by extension? I hope not, since intent is the basis of all guilty verdicts, and if there is no veridiction to the sentences that we are dealt, then it’s probably better to simply say nothing at all…

    The Buddha’s 100,000 lives, more or less, would extend back at least three million years, more or less, probably more if indeed good lives those of his certainly would be, so probably better to simply write it off as metaphor, and get on with our own lives…

    For we waste time in counting, and more precious time in the combat of exposition, stipulating silly syllogisms for the sake of argument, when the only recourse to recognition is through those labyrinthine passageways of the heart…

    Logic falls flat. Reason lies bleeding. Slide rules are antiquated and calculators require batteries, not always included. There is no path forward when the pathway is circular, and no convenient exit when the doors are all closed. Dharma requires no dogma. Dialog requires no debate…

     
  • hardie karges 12:13 pm on July 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , dharma, , , vegetarian,   

    Nature Asserts Herself with a Vengeance, and a Virus… 

    Nature is not ours to conquer. Nature is there for us to respect, honor, and obey. And if this seems like common sense, derived from common knowledge, believe me that it is one of the hardest commandments to obey, maybe because it was never written down, or maybe because it is somehow counter-intuitive, that what looks like ‘Nature’s bounty’ to us is somehow limited and precious and subject to restrictions on access.

    And isn’t that the way we males perceive our access to the feminine side of life? Because that’s what Nature is, even at its wildest, it is the feminine principle to life, as opposed to the will and violence that haunt the halls of patriarchal civilization. Because even at its most violent, the mighty lion subduing the gentle lamb, I don’t think that there is any enjoyment implied or expressed, simply the fact of life that big fish eat small fish, no offense intended.

    Only we humans have the willpower to construct cities, or the conscious intent to choose vegetarianism, when it is not our historical path that has led us to that conclusion, but pure consciousness. Now I could be wrong, but I don’t think that it is likely that any other species will soon emulate that decision, though they may very well be vegetarian by nature, and who knows the path that Nature has bequeathed upon that other species, whose story we little know, and that has brought them to that conclusion?

    But now we have come full circle, from nature and back again and the only thing that has changed is that we are one step closer to a complete revolution around a celestial body that is in itself in revolution around a celestial body, in some giant circle dance in some giant sky that only makes sense from a distance. So we build cities and take what we want from Nature, gentle bountiful Nature, as if it were a stray lamb on the edge of the flock, and there must surely be more where that came from.

    But there is not, not in any accessible form, that is. Because we are limited by light and gravity, and the restrictions placed by that fourth dimension of Time. Almost anything is possible in Space, but Time in a single dimension is less forgiving than Space in three, and Nature is the perfect example of that. In more than one SE Asian language it is something like the Thai ธรรมชาติ, thammachaht, i.e. dharma jati, the law of birth, straight from the Sanskrit, as filtered through the lens of Buddhism.

    And that’s what Nature is, too, the law of birth, and death, as it pertains to our lives and those that we are privileged to share with. If it took a pandemic virus for us to see that clearly, then so be it, better late than never. Because the new normal will have to be greener and cleaner, or it won’t work. Mother knows best…

     
  • hardie karges 11:28 am on May 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , dharma, , ,   

    Money and other Buddhist Sins of Commission… 

    Attachment to money is the worst form of craving, because, as a medium of exchange, it is something totally false, mere paper, typically folded and mutilated, if not spindled, simply because no one knows what that means.

    And if I launch into a sermon on the use of punch cards, you still might not know much more unless you voted in the US twenty years ago, and still remember it. But what we really love are the numbers, anything more than zero considered a plus, by definition, and anything less subject to penalties, typically the sins of omission more than the sins of commission, because you really don’t have to do anything to suffer, or cause others to suffer, given the time dimension, and the fact that results and effects are often delayed far from the source of the original action, or karma, if you prefer.

    Conversely, the less you do, than the fewer sins you commit, but if you do too little, then you may indeed starve, and if you fail to help another in need, then you may indeed be a direct cause of their suffering, even if you weren’t a direct cause of their pain.

    So life has always been a search for sustenance, from the semi-tropical Garden of Eden, where fruit hung ripe from the trees, to the far northern steppes, where the big game ran wild and the satisfaction ran deep as the snowbank you could use to keep that slab of meat cool for a while.

    So how did the big game get transformed into roulette wheels and lotteries and one-armed bandits, slot machines with no feelings nor dogs in the hunt? That is the history of the world, my friends, the transfer of feeling from fields to factories, by hook or crook, since it wasn’t always voluntary, least of all in the place of its origins, as the British Enclosure Acts claimed common grounds for capitalists, and sent crofters to the Commonwealth countries or factories, often with no other choice, as is typical in a class system based on caste, even where much of the deep ancestry is similar or even the same.

    But cities are the same regardless of their location or countries of origin, and money is their common denominator, 0’s and 1’s in the ledger book of life. And dharma is the same, also, the truth of human circumstances and interactions and their repercussions across time and space. The medium used for commercial transactions is not the medium of human interaction, though the Middle Path may sound similar. It is not.

    Money is superfluous, and best kept hidden. To flaunt it is to worship it, and a cardinal sin of commission, an insult to polite society. There is a reason that Buddhist monks in Thailand are forbidden to touch it. We’re playing for keeps here, not possession, but forever, always changing…

     
    • Alexis Adder 3:44 pm on May 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      They turned money into a cult and forced everyone into needing it all thr time.

      • hardie karges 3:50 pm on May 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, it’s quite the conundrum: can’t live with it, and can’t live without it. I think the main thing is not to be obsessed with it, so neither broke nor gambler, so as to think of it as little as possible…

    • Dave Kingsbury 4:19 pm on May 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I like to count mine every day. It doesn’t take long … 🙂

      • hardie karges 4:22 pm on May 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        I know the feeling…

  • hardie karges 11:46 am on February 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , dharma, , , , ,   

    Mixing Buddhism and Christianity to find a Middle Path that is free and equal… 

    To see the goodness in everyone sometimes requires special eyeglasses and extra effort, but that is the task to which we must put ourselves, because it is central to our thesis that life is worth living and no one is cast off, no matter how deep the suffering or how egregious the past, that one can be reformed, and forgiven, and can start all over with a clean slate, and no misgivings, and a future fresh and untrammeled, without the dirty footprints of yesterday defining a crooked mile, that goes nowhere, and is only fated to return. And in this sense Christianity may have a vast advantage over some sects of Buddhism that insist that we must relive our lives over and over with only small hope of actually making the quantum leap to a higher ‘type of person’, hopefully human (and male), lighter skin the better, in this last-ditch lottery of human salvation, when theoretically there is nothing really there to be saved anyway, in Buddhism, so why bother? Because people want magic and fantasy and the supernatural presence of divine intervention in their little lives, rather than slug it out in the coal mines and canary cages of the material world, with little hope of improvement, that’s why. Supposedly. Because we all know that many of the most knowledgeable people really believe none of that reincarnation nonsense, anyway, but know that it’ll put the fear of Mara and Mount Meru in the average village person, such that he’ll be much more obedient, and ultimately better off in this life of few rewards, and even fewer gains, in the quantum leap upward to a better ‘type of person’. Because this is central to the Hindu Brahmanic thesis, that there are different ‘types of persons’, most specifically those genetically shuffled Brahmins on top of a rapidly descending ladder to the bottom level, of those who must toil and trouble in the bubbling vats of sacred colors, ready to adorn the fashioned features of the fated few, while the vast unwashed steady the ladder that suppresses them. But for many the need for absolute certainty is preferable to the remote possibilities for hypothetical advancement, so acceptable in a belated sort of way. And that’s okay, if that’s what you want, but it doesn’t have to be that way, whether you’re Christian or Buddhist or Hindu or Jew, because you can mix and match philosophies however you want, regardless of what anyone says, as long as you’re honest about it, and true to your own heart and mind, however changing and impermanent. Because ‘skillful means’ can select its topics, and its targets, but not its truths, so I may preach limits to Americans and freedom to Asians, with no contradiction in the least, because there is a sweet spot in the middle that is not only logically inferred, but existentially real. Everyone has equal value. All sentient beings have equal worth. This is no accident of fate or karma, color or birth…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 5:32 pm on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Some healthy cross-fertilisation, with us as the bee … makes perfect sense to me! A little green awareness thrown into the mix …

      • hardie karges 5:35 pm on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Dave. If a free-associative piece somehow manages to attain perfect sense, then that is words choosing their own proper course instinctively, I suppose…

        • Dave Kingsbury 3:08 am on February 25, 2020 Permalink

          Absolutely agree, Hardie, rather like a stream finding its way – I’ve resolved to explore similar, er, territory in my own writing.

  • hardie karges 7:37 am on February 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , dharma, , Edward Conze, impeachment, , , SDNY,   

    DJ Trump and the Sarvāstivādin Theory of Momentariness… 

    img_1401

    Reflections in the back seat

    For those of you who are not in the process of pursuing a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies, let me explain that the Sarvāstivādins were a large Abhidharma-era group that split off from the mainstream Theravādins after Asoka’s third Buddhist Council at Pataliputra c. 250 BCE, over their insistence that ‘everything exists’, i.e. ‘sarvam asti‘ (or something like that, my Sanskrit sucks), while the Theravādins preferred a bit more ‘discrimination’…

    And part of that theory of everything was an atomistic conception of time: atoms, of both time and matter, and classifiable as either: (1) states of consciousness (citta); (2) mental ‘concomitants’ (cetasika); (3) corporeality (rūpa); plus (4) nirvāna. According to the Sarvāstivādin conception of time, these could exist equally well in the past, present or future. For their part the Theravādins only acknowledged the present, albeit in successive moments… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 4:11 am on November 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brahmanization, , dharma, , holy war, , , ,   

    Buddhist Holy War, Part II: Tune in, turn on, drop out… 

    img_1893(continued from previous)

    The Buddhist situation 2500 years ago may indeed have been not so different from our own, with a rapidly expanding population soon to go into a stall, and the Brahmanization of India underway, i.e. the caste system, threatening to lock people into a form of submission to which they’d never previously been subjected. And it’s no accident that so many religions sprouted within a half millennium or so of the beginning of the common era, with any self-respecting guru prophesying the End of Days…

    All of a sudden renunciation doesn’t look like such a bad option. And so it is today, because what can they do if you simply refuse to cooperate, simply renounce all ties to the current oligarchs, slave-owners and warmongers? They can’t force you to work. They can beat you; they can even kill you. But they can’t force you to work. They can threaten your loved ones, though… (More …)

     
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