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  • hardie karges 1:58 pm on November 5, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , dharma, , , ,   

    Dharma and the Middle Path as a Law of Nature… 

    There’s always a middle Path, whether or not it’s THE middle Path. This may be a bit of a deviation from the standard central dogma, which likes to break the Middle Path down into the Eightfold Path of Right View, Thought, Speech, Action, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness, and Meditation, BUT: who needs dogma, anyway? I don’t. So, I like to think of the Middle Path as a universal principle applicable to a multiplicity of situations, and carrying a message embedded that is worth more than just a little attention.

    Because we are not only just junkies for excess, whether it be luxury or lack, existence or non-existence, or form and emptiness, all aspects of the Buddhist definition, but there seems to be excess embedded into our very value system. For example, when we eat cooked food (yum yum) it’s generally considered best at anything but room temperature, right? We go to great lengths to make our best dishes either steaming hot or icy cold, don’t we? Anything tepid is considered middling, and that’s generally not a good judgment upon a cook’s ability.

    But, why is that? Is there anything intrinsic to taste to be found in that manifestation of attractions to extremes? There’s a possible argument to be made that either extreme is conducive to the preservation of the food, whether at extremely high temperatures or extremely low ones, but that argument quickly falls apart when considering anything besides culinary items. Why do we like bright colors? Why do we like high places? Why do we like deep caves? Perhaps, more to the point: Why do we like getting drunk? Why do we like getting high?

    The most obvious manifestation of these extremes is their danger, but then, on second thought, is it maybe their unnaturalness (is that a word?)? Bingo. Most of us really don’t want to die, now, do we? But we don’t mind pushing the envelope, so to speak, and we certainly don’t mind the thrill aspect. Why? Because it’s not natural, that’s why. And maybe that’s a hidden message of the Buddha: be natural. One definition of dharma, in fact, is just that: the law of Nature. So, does that mean that the Buddha was a Boomer? Cool, that’s okay by me…

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  • hardie karges 6:47 am on October 9, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , dharma, , , , kileshas, , , ,   

    The Poisons of Buddhism: Hate and Anger and the Path to Danger… 

    Anger destroys everything and everyone in its path, and usually a few bystanders, also. Thus, it is rightly one of the three poisons of Buddhism, as a synonym of hatred, dvesha, and co-equal to lust, raga, and delusion, moha. These poisons are also known variously as the Unwholesome Roots (good name for a Rock-and-Roll band, haha), and the Three Fires. In other words: don’t be like that. Do good things, and good things will come to you. That’s karma, in this life and this world, no need for all the generation-jumping and multiple feedback loops. Obey your Mom and Dad, and love your neighbor as yourself, also, BTW.

    But anger and hatred hold a special place in my Hall of Fame of disgusting behavior, simply because it’s so unnecessary and so easy to avoid. You don’t have to do anything! But there are a few things that you should definitely NOT do: lose your temper, raise your voice, or say and do things that you know you will later regret. But for some reason it feels so good in the heat of the moment to tell someone and his mother where to go and where to stuff it when they get there, that you just can’t help yourself, and the recriminations and guilt will only come later, like maybe five minutes later.

    Because guilt is the weapon of Karma’s choice, the punishment that should be equal to any crime, but it works only if the guilty party has been taught ethics and morality, and lives in a society where such high purposes have value. Some people are so corrupt that they are impervious to the recrimination of guilty feelings, and so the only punishment for wrongdoing is more wrongdoing, as society degenerates into madness and solutions are hard to find. Sound familiar? Such are sanctions in the city. Maybe it’s time to return to Nature. That’s the original dharma, ธรรมชาติ…

     
  • hardie karges 8:45 am on May 1, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , dharma, , , justice, , Mosaic, moses, , , Roman, sanatana   

    Buddhism and the Mosaic of Laws It Competes With… 

    Repay every aggression with kindness, sooner rather than later. Because in this way, not only can society progress and history advance, but wounds can heal, and toxic attitudes can change. This is one of the prime conceptual bases of religion, of course, all the best ones, that you don’t have to respond “eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth,” lex talionis, Roman if not Christian. Because that predates Jesus Christ and his subsequent Christians, going way back to the early Jews, Moses, and the Mosaic law that sits there like concrete, composed of gravel and mud, shards and pieces, cobbled together in an elaborate composite of moral, civil, and ceremonial considerations not unlike the various bodies of law(s) and customs that have subsequently been handed down from the example of it.

    There’s only one problem: that ain’t religion, not most of it. That’s law and politics and culture and custom, almost everything BUT religion, except the parts of it that can be considered ‘moral law.’ And those are almost indistinguishable from the Buddhist precepts: Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, etc., and even then, the attitude most truly religious that they can muster is for the Christians to have no other god before God (Allah), and for the Buddhist to not claim any form of enlightenment that they really can’t deliver–boom. It was up to Jesus to bring true religion to the Jews, just like it was up to the Buddha to bring true religion to sanatana dharma (Hinduism).

    The Muslims kept the ‘eye for an eye,’ famously, of course, and in that sense distinguish themselves form Christians. The Jews did likewise for most of history, only shifting to the more liberal Christian orientation recently, c. 1948. The rest is history. But that’s politics. We want religion. And the lex talionis doesn’t preclude that, of course, it only limits its reach, which is not so bad, all things considered. And the main thing to consider is that it is NOT a proclamation of revenge, in fact just the opposite. Because it limits retribution to the original damage, and, in effect, prohibits the punitive damages that could be considered as revenge, i.e. more than simple punishment, and far more than actual damages. But true religion always tries to heal the transgressor with love and kindness, not revenge or even justice. Religion transcends justice. It should be better than that.

    Note: the word ‘dharma’ has often been translated as ‘law’…

     
  • hardie karges 7:00 am on January 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , dharma, , , , ,   

    Buddhism and the True Meaning of Love 

    ‘Falling in Love’ is all about attachment. True love is all about non-attachment. True love looks for soft spots to protect. Aggression looks for soft spots to attack, and attachment isn’t much better, by weakening that spot, even if not physically attacking. By ‘true love,’ of course, I’m talking about Buddhist metta, typically translated as ‘lovingkindness,’ if you’re Jewish or Christian, but that still preserves some passion, and suffering, so maybe better translated more like the Buddha himself probably intended, so something like ‘brotherly love’ or ‘sisterly love,’ as the case may be. To be clear, I think that being in a relationship is fine, sometimes wonderful, but it shouldn’t necessarily be based on the hysterical (no pun) madness of being ‘in love.’

    Score one for arranged marriages? I wouldn’t go that far. Exercising one’s innate free will, to whatever extent it exists, and despite all the limitations placed upon it, is all about what it is to be human. ‘Give me liberty or give me death’? Haha, once again, I probably wouldn’t go that far. Because true freedom is freedom FROM, not freedom TO, freedom from any and all the defilements that plague us, but not freedom to do anything we want, regardless of whom it hurts. And this is an important distinction. Kileshas are the Buddhist name for those defilements that destroy our humanity and reduce us once again to the animal world from which we’ve evolved.

    It’s funny, though, because often these defilements themselves come paired just like the pair-bonding couples that cause many of the problems in their quest for reproduction rights, in addition to other attachments and liens on property. Because jealousy and revenge are twin kileshas, just like hate and anger, one feeding off the other like two heads of a serpent striking, and best avoided. The great Buddhist dilemma, or tetralemma, is how to deal with aggression. Do you turn the other cheek? But no Christian really did that, did they? To live from sensation to sensation is to live like an animal. To follow dharma is to live like a human.

     
  • hardie karges 4:22 am on November 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , dharma, , , , , , salvation, skandha,   

    Buddhist Enlightenment on the Installment Plan… 

    Buddhism in Bhutan

    Don’t worry about salvation. That implies a soul to be saved. Enlightenment is plenty. Sabbe dhamma anatta. That means that all dharmas are without self, the word ‘dharma’ usually translated as ‘phenomena’ when plural, an innovation of the Abhidharma era. So this is a bit different from the original singular dharma, often translated as the ‘law’ or simply the eternal teachings, presumably sublime if not subtle, whether those of the Buddha or those from the Vedic Brahmanism which preceded him. What we call ‘Hinduism’ is what they call ‘Sanatan(a) dharma.’ Dhamma is the Pali form of the Sanskrit dharma, the language in which the earliest Buddhist teachings appear.

    But somewhere along the way the concept of salvation appears, and certainly after the time of Christ, they famous for that concept, though that does not necessarily imply causality. Because it also seems to come from a different place, far from the Buddhist birthplace of Buddhism in India, though they, too, with an all-encompassing and soulful atman, which is no doubt the source of the Buddha’s inspiration, in opposition to that concept. I first noticed salvation with my study of Zen, which could give it an origin in China or Japan, China certainly with significant Christian influence early on with the Silk Road Nestorians, though Japan had its own Christian influences later. Japanese Zen even somehow twists the non-self skandha ‘heaps’ of conditions of which we are all composed into an ersatz perfection from which we are all carved, very Christian Scientist.

    Go figure. But somehow, it’s all still Buddhism, even if the Mahayana ‘tradition’ went two vastly different directions from the center, Zen with its Dadaist koans and meditative trances, while Tibetan Vajrayana Mantrayana Tantrayana allows magic, mantras, and even sex, but most of all devotion, and karma, to influence that sacred path to Enlightenment. And enlightenment is the key concept here, for even if it lends itself to some juju and some woo-woo, it’s still likely preferable to the dubious concept of Nirvana, with its close connections to death, no matter how parinirvana your nirvana. Seems Kurt Cobain hit it on the head, after all. The concept of Nirvana seems to contradict the concept of the Middle Path, without much further discussion, as does the concept of bliss, since one extreme almost always leads to the other, while the center is the sweet spot of deliverance. That sweet spot is my Buddhism, all extremes avoided.

     
  • 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…

     
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