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  • hardie karges 1:42 pm on July 10, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: antithesis, , , , dialectic, , , , , , , 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 10:58 am on May 29, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Covid, , dialectic, , , , , human sacrifice, , murder,   

    Buddhism 499: the Worst Experiences Sometimes Teach the Best Lessons… 

    And while this may not be one of the Four Noble Truths or one of the folds of the Eightfold Path, it is one of the mystic truths of Buddhism, often cited by the Dalai Lama and very easy to digest in its simplicity. It is easy because it is intuitive, even if it somehow defies common sense. How could the Covid pandemic teach a valuable lesson, after all? Well, if it teaches us how to deal with Global Warming, then that would be valuable, wouldn’t it? And just that it may very well do.

    Think of it as the veritable kick upside the noggin that I could never explain with so much bloggin,’ haha. Didn’t Hitler teach us something? Didn’t slavery? No religion ever prohibited slavery, or even spoke disapprovingly of it, until very recently. It’s even doubtful that murder was considered a sin, until around the time that the Buddha, and then later Jesus, thought to specifically mention it. Why? Wasn’t that obvious? Probably not, sad to say. Because while we stand aghast now while contemplating human sacrifice, they didn’t. They lined up for the privilege.

    So, score one for cultural relativism, and let’s stand reproached for our modern arrogance. Is human sacrifice okay, then? Of course not. We know that now, that every life has value, and it’s only a question of when it begins, right? But isn’t there also a question of when it should end? This is part of the ongoing dialectic towards a higher—and more convenient—truth. What about Global Warming, then? How does that fit? We must live in harmony with Nature, somehow, some way. We don’t need to live with Dodge Charger V-8’s with four-on-the-floor and dual Holley four-barrel carbs, though. We already proved that. Now we need to relearn some of our other previous lessons.

     
  • hardie karges 6:59 am on December 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , dialectic, , , , , , , , , ,   

    The Ways and (Skillful) Means of Buddhism… 

    ‘Skillful means’ is not about telling people what they want to hear. It’s telling them what they need to hear, in a way that’s acceptable to them. And if this sounds obvious, it can be more complicated than it seems. It can even contradict one of the main precepts in the Eightfold Path, in fact, if it fails to acknowledge the importance of Right Speech. One of the Buddha’s later commentators, in fact, even bragged about how the Buddha could preach about cosmic Self to the Brahmanists, while preaching non-self to the already-committed Buddhists. Fast-forward to the future and a prominent senior Buddhist monk today claims that Buddha, in fact, was never committed to a doctrine of non-self, but was undecided about it (so that we can now accept rebirth with no issue of what it is that gets reborn). But this is not ‘skillful means.’ And this is not Right Speech.

    As the New Testament of the Christian Bible is often paraphrased: “Let your yes be yes; and let your no be no.” Bingo. That Buddhism is an open doctrine is fine, and to be commended. That it sometimes gets twisted almost beyond recognition is not always so good. But that’s exactly what happened when Mahayana went in two almost opposite directions from its shunyata (emptiness) starting point, one leading to the Vajrayana of Tibet, the other leading to the Zen of Japan. And for a long time, that’s where Buddhism stood, and stalled, and those are the two extremes that made the biggest impact in the New World—until now. Because now there is a new dialectic to that interplay of magic and trance, and it should be no surprise that the only realistic synthesis would be a return to the primal roots of early Buddhism. So, Theravada now finds its best messaging in its simplest Forest Temples, and the debates in the background resume.

    Only this time it is not the background of Brahmanism and Jainism, but dozens of so-called ‘New Age’ ideas and the general air of conspiracy. But for me Secular Buddhism is the rightful heir to the debate with religiosity, something which original Buddhism had not the luxury, because Science as we know it did not exist. But Reason and rationality did, embedded in the nature of cause and effect, the words for which define ‘reason’ in more than one Asian language. And that’s how Buddhism won the original debate, for me, at least, because it was the rational option. And it still can be, if it can find its peace with Science, because that is the air we breathe in this day and age, logic and testing. We only need a belief system to make sense of it all. If not, then ‘belief’ becomes a bad word, synonymous with ‘faith,’ and we are left to our own devices to find succor and solace. I find no contradiction between my Buddhism and the best science we know. If forced to choose, then I will refuse, and let the chips fall where they may.

     
  • hardie karges 4:11 am on November 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , dialectic, , ,   

    Buddhism at the Crossroads: First Do no Harm… 

    ‘First do no harm’ is part of the Hippocratic Oath. It should also be part of the Buddhist Oath, or fundamental precepts. ‘Primum non nocere’ as later formulated, this is more than just a cute little saying. This is fundamental to Buddhist principles. Because there really is no call to action. If anything, the reality is almost the exact opposite. The cute aphorisms are numerous: ‘A wise man once said nothing.’ ‘Don’t just do something! Sit there!’ You get the idea. Buddhism is first and foremost a religion of renunciation, and that is a fact of history. Nothing can change that. Meditation is the practice of Buddhism, no matter your sect or sex.

    Other things do change, though, and Buddhism is an ongoing dialog and dialectic, which I think is good, for the most part, though, if it doesn’t Christianize Buddhism totally, haha. It goes both ways. There is Christian mindfulness now, also, just as there is Buddhist ‘lovingkindness.’ The world is getting small as populations grow and grow, and soon there will be no place to hide. Buddhism is made for an over-expansive world. It shows how to find peace within, even when there is little peace without. We are a young species and prone to failures. Time will only tell if we will eventually survive and thrive, now by doing less, rather than doing more. The hard stuff was easy. The easy stuff will be hard.

     
  • hardie karges 12:24 pm on April 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: dialectic, ,   

    Buddhism on the Half Shell, Pick and Choose 

    Buddhism in the North Country is different from the South

    Make the world a better place for humans and other sentient beings. That is the battle charge of the Bodhisattva, the ‘awakened being’ who sacrifices the present moment of his own bliss for the future happiness of the many in waiting. And this is the difference, of course, between the Buddhism of the Elders, Theravada, and the larger vehicle, Mahayana, which supposedly looks beyond the narrow conflicted self and delays enlightenment so that we all can enter the realm of Buddhahood together.

    (More …)
     
  • hardie karges 10:04 am on May 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , dialectic, ,   

    Love, Buddhism, dialectic, and the dictates of Science… 

    The message to a noisy world is simple: silence. The message to a hateful world is also simple: love. So the remedy for any extreme situation would seem to be its opposite, at least in the short term. This can be a zig-zag situation, though, of course, flip-flopping back and forth between extremes with no middle ground. Certainly some Westerners with a racial background of extreme violence take the love love love remedy too far to the other extreme. This is the genius of Buddhism, that it constantly seeks that middle ground ‘sweet spot’ of mutual accommodation, which should ideally be the outcome of any ongoing dialectic, and constantly self-correcting. But while some scholars and priests might claim this as a higher truth, I’d say that it is simply a superior method, and therefore akin to science. There are laws that require separation of church and state, not church and science…

     
    • quantumpreceptor 12:24 pm on May 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting Hardy. I think science really should have a branch devoted to the study of meditation and or eastern teachings. It’s a proactive solution to an old problem.

      QP

      • hardie karges 2:39 pm on May 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        And vice-versa, also, IMO, as that gap is now too wide for mere yawning; it needs to be bridged…

        • quantumpreceptor 2:42 pm on May 12, 2019 Permalink

          It would be a great way to control the conversation in a logical and nondogmatic way. Leaving the snake oil salesman out to lunch and the seekers of wisdom a new path to credibility.

        • hardie karges 3:01 pm on May 12, 2019 Permalink

          exactly

  • hardie karges 7:48 am on January 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , dialectic, EckfardtbTolle, , , , , , , , , , , Tibetan, ,   

    Buddhist Back-Story: Dialectics and Linguistics… 

    img_1935Theravada Buddhism has it easy, when it comes to dhamma (dharma) talks, just pull out the old mind-kilesa-breath-nose-navel-‘Buddho Buddho Buddho’ playbook, rinse and repeat, hard to screw up unless you want to get into the murky afterbirth of past lives and kamma (karma), doing Yogic headstands and plotting Ptolemaic cosmic epicycles, trying to explain how anatta (non-self) somehow gets reborn, when there really is nothing there to begin with. But still they do. It’s embarrassing, especially when some of the same ones…

    …get all goo-goo-eyed at the mention of ‘this present moment’, which I agree with, if not to the extent that some would take it. So how can you have both, not only within the same school of Buddhism, but within the same person, e.g. the Dalai (not Theravada) Lama? I can find you quotes of him advocating ‘nowness’ while Eckhart Tolle was still sleeping on sofas, and at the same time opining that if someone’s life hasn’t quite worked out right, then it’s because of something they did in a past life—ouch! What gives? (More …)

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 4:00 pm on January 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Like any long-lived belief system, I suppose, as complex as people and societies are themselves. The Science connection seems an interesting extension …

      • hardie karges 10:54 pm on January 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, It’s amazing to me that the original Buddhist debate, basically liberal vs. conservative, is still alive today, after countless twists and turns, and analogous to something similar in politics, which is all well and good, I think, as long as everyone can be polite and civilized about it…

        • Dave Kingsbury 2:34 am on January 30, 2018 Permalink

          Indeed. The questions arising from reincarnation are the ones I struggle with. My best shot is to view it as metaphor and therefore helpful for perspective and even humour.

  • hardie karges 8:25 am on June 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: capitalist, , , dialectic, , , global village, , , , small planet, , totalitarian   

    #Dialectic Burrito Deluxe: #Marx or #Hegel, Tortilla or Bagel… 

    Marx and Hegel are almost (almost!) equally famous for their dialogues and dialectics, with themselves and others, materialism and idealism respectively, thesis antithesis synthesis, history somehow some way marching forward zig-zag drunkenly, reconciling opposites into higher syntheses supposedly, like a ball rolling downhill, picking up speed, bouncing from side to side, before finally choosing a middle course out of entropy as much as any conscious decision-making progress…

    And so we do just that, apparently, nomadic hunter-gatherers until we had the ways and means to settle down with plants and animals, sedentary farmer-herders until we had the ways and means to build elaborate cities with specialized skills, accomplished artisans-craftsmen until we had the ways and means to sell beyond our local ‘hood, market-based buyers-sellers until we had the ways and means to go long distances, peripatetic merchant-travelers until we had the ways and means to mass-produce anywhere any time… (More …)

     
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