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  • hardie karges 8:33 am on July 31, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , emptiness, , , Magi, magic, , ,   

    Buddhism 498: Emptiness is the Path to Infinity 

    If you’re doing it right, then one day a sense of calmness will come over you, as the zeroes take over, and the fractions become less, a mind divided unable to reproduce itself properly, and the ensuing life even less. Because language knows no natural limit, and so will run on until stopped, vowels and consonants forming verbs and nouns like chickens and eggs, and no one knows which came first, since no one was taking notes in a class too crowded for convenience and too full for breath…

    But people wonder why meditate, since there’s so little time and so little space, that to waste any extra must certainly be counter-intuitive, but, in reality, the exact opposite is the case. Because meditation creates more time and more space in the process of killing it, such that if you really want to experience infinity, then the only way to do that is with emptiness.

    Because infinity cannot exist full of stuff, and that is fundamental to the concept, and who would want it anyway, except a kid at Christmas before the sun’s even up, learning the false lesson of abundance under the magic of the Magi, who got lost on the way to Bethlehem, but couldn’t see any reason to let a good story go to waste? So, a kid in a manger becomes the unlikely savior of humanity, when all we really wanted was a full belly and an empty mind, empty of hate and anger, with Big Ideas optional.

    But we can do that on command with a little silence and a lot of discipline, let the confusion die down and out, and be reborn in spirit every hour of every day with a little self-control and a lot of kindness, creating a world of forgiveness and reconciliation, instead of aggression and competition, for access to scarce resources, to create even more, when the obvious answer is to first consume even less. And that is the difference between Buddhism and Christianity, to consume less or produce more, when the truth lies somewhere in between.

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  • hardie karges 4:50 am on March 27, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Buddhism: Life in the Slow Lane… 

    It’s okay to enjoy life, even love it, and still be a good Buddhist, as long as you don’t pretend to possess or attach, crave or covet. Because, even if Buddhism is a religion of renunciation, at its origins, and at the core of its being, it is still pragmatic and rational in its acknowledgement that the average life, for the average householder, must be properly maintained and nourished if any of us are to even have anything to renounce. Renunciation, after all, is not poverty. It is a conscious rejection of the supercilious aspects of human existence that lend it its falseness, and which tend to reduce us to its servants, not its masters.

    Because the master of human existence is the one who can take it or leave it, in its fullness or its emptiness, each of which is valid and credible, neither of which is complete in and of itself, and both of which can serve as valuable paradigms toward fulfillment in the right place and in the right time, the details of which are to be established later. Because Buddhism is nothing if not a fertile middle ground for resettlement, after all the thrusts and forays of penetration and conquest have run their course. Those are but illusions, after all, while the real stuff of life is to be found not in articles of consumption, but in the abstract concepts that occupy thought, feeling, and action. There is nothing mystical about Buddhism in its essence. The Middle Path is all about rationality, ratios, and rations…

     
  • hardie karges 6:41 am on March 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Hawking’s Paradox and Buddhism: Emptiness Ain’t so Empty… 

    Continued from July 4, 2021…

    Buddhism is not a religion of passion. So, there’s no reason to get excited. Unless you’re talking about ‘passion’ in the classic Biblical sense of ‘suffering,’ in which case Buddhism certainly recognizes that sort of passion. But that’s not what Westerners, usually Christian born-and-bred, usually mean. And so, as language mutates over time, so does culture. Christianity’s foundation as a religion built on suffering gradually becomes a religion based on “living life to the fullest,” which is all well and good, if you are prepared to accept the consequences. But Buddhism is all about living life to the Emptiest, and that doesn’t mean Nothingness. It means no craving or grasping.

    On the contrary Emptiness is the only glimpse of Infinity and Eternity that we can have in this life, in this world. Because a world of stuff is by definition limited, to this and that and the other, things countable and categorizable. Emptiness, on the other hand, has no limits. There’s only one problem, if you’re into stuff: it’s empty. But can it be perceived? Yes, I think it can. But it can’t be consumed, not in the way that we consume sights and sounds and love on the rebound. That is the world of stuff. But that world is secondary. Without the Emptiness that contains it, that world is not even possible. Emptiness is a vessel, and thus more important and primal than the stuff that it contains—including your illusory self…

     
  • hardie karges 7:46 am on February 27, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Advanced Buddhism: Silence is not Violence 

    Buddhism in Bhutan

    Words once spoken cannot be taken back. Actions once committed cannot be retracted. Silence is better than violence. But this contradicts one of the slogans of the Black Lives Matter movement, of course, that ‘Silence is Violence,’ which, no matter how much I sympathize with that movement, is simply mistaken, as a matter of fact, and definition, not opinion nor political orientation. Of course the BLM people were not thinking of meditative silence, so we’re discussing apples and oranges, really, no matter that silence is strictly still silence, no matter the circumstance. Emptiness is another matter. When the Russian figure skater said she felt ‘empty,’ she wasn’t talking about shunyata, I don’t think.

    It’s almost hard to believe now, but not so long ago, to ‘break the silence’ was a symbol of progress, the buzz of saws and the whir of wheels almost synonymous with the concept of progress, in fact. This was largely due to the influence of the Industrial Revolution, of course, the effects of which are still being calculated each and every day, though now perhaps in a more negative sense, given its almost single-handed cause of what we call Global Warming. Global Warmongering began long before and was probably far more brutal than anything that we can even imagine today, whole villages and towns raided and leveled for the lack of ability to hold ground against the superior technology—horses.     

    So, silence is the way of Buddhism, in more ways than one. Not only is it the foundation of meditation, bit it is the right hand to shunyata, the Emptiness that underlies all existence, the vessel that contains the stuff that we associate with reality, but which isn’t, not really. The vessel is more real than all the stuff inside, whether we call it that or call it light and gravity, or another quark for Mister Mark. The point is that there are things more fundamental to reality than all the stuff we see every day. And silence is more fundamental than all the noise we create. On a more personal level, you don’t need to be aggressive to show displeasure. I recommend the silent treatment. It’s better than the violent treatment.

     
  • hardie karges 11:24 am on July 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , emptiness, , inanition, , , , , , , , ,   

    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 8:36 am on July 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Musings on the Buddhist Concept of Shunyata: Emptiness Ain’t So Empty… 

    Stephen Hawking was famous for saying that ‘Black holes ain’t so black,’ and so the title here is more than a little bit coincidental, and in fact quite intentional, because the meanings of the two concepts—black holes and ‘shunyata’—are quite similar. Because if the Buddhist concept of ‘shunyata’ is usually translated as ‘emptiness,’ then that is by an English layman’s choice, and is not necessarily the best choice. And if that choice supposes that Buddhism is nihilistic, and that life is meaningless, then nothing could be further from the truth.

    For Buddhism, and Indian philosophy in general, in fact has a long rich and varied history, and every bit the equal of its Greek counterpart on the other side of the great divide between East and West, even if the former is perhaps more spiritual and the latter more materialistic. But they share much common ground for thought, and this is probably no accident, considering that they both shared the northern steppes for a few thousand years and probably shared a few long discussions and debates before blazing campfires, in a proto-Indo-European language, before going their separate ways some 6-8000 years ago.

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  • hardie karges 11:32 am on April 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Buddhism and the Limits of Freedom… 

    Self-control is a valuable tool, a wonderful trait, and a noble quality. But control of others? Not so much. And this is a sticking point for many Western Buddhists, who cringe at the thought of any sort of control, it being anathema to the Western traditions of freedom and democracy, however ill-conceived and ill-defined. This obsession with freedom arose in response to the tyranny of rulers, so that is the sordid background upon which our story must unfold. It is also the justification for many a disproportionate response which must then invite further repercussions, in an almost endless back-and-forth see-saw of emotions and cataclysms which define the modern history of humankind.

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

    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.

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  • hardie karges 11:48 am on February 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , emptiness, , , , ,   

    Buddhism and Self in an (Almost) post-Apocalyptic World… 

    Self-control requires no self, and not much control, either, really, just wise decisions. Which is convenient, since the last thing a Westerner—European or American—wants to hear about is control, something of a dirty word for the Aryan-descended high-steppes drifters.

    My compatriots tend to love their freedoms, even when they are deleterious to health, to an extent that others might, and do, find laughable, witness the current kerfuffles over life-saving masks in the middle of a pandemic. But limits are crucial to Buddhism, in sharp antithesis to the Christianity of eternal life and eternal resources. Oops! That’s another bad word–limit.

    Bottom line: It isn’t what you do that matters so much; it’s what you don’t do. And if that kept me away from Buddhism for many years, perceived as a passive response to active situations, now it attracts me to it. Because now it really is better to do nothing than run around like decapitated barn-fowl in search of answers to questions we never should have asked in the first place.

    So what do we do about global warming? Do nothing, i.e. instead of driving that car: do nothing. Instead of stoking that chimney of steel: do nothing. Instead of shooting that rocket to Mars: do nothing. Get it? So what if our lives revert to the same economic status of one hundred years ago, was that so bad? All we’ve gained since then is technology-based capitalism, not knowledge.

    One hundred years ago, Einstein’s general theory of relativity was proven and quantum mechanics was in progress. The only thing good that’s happened after all that is Internet, so we can keep that and get rid of all the self-driving cars and self-driven egos. Internet is almost the only worthwhile technology of the last century, that and health care, something still out of reach for many world citizens.

    Yet we are obsessed with economic growth as though that were the English term for God, and freedom as if that were our contribution to the Emptiness that underlies all stuff (which it may very well be). The problem is that quest for infinity when we have no true connection to it, except for our worship of it. So worship we can do, as long as we don’t fancy ourselves the master of it. We’re not.

    We are subject to freedom and must obey its dictates. Oops! There’s another dirty word, no, not dictate, but ‘obey.’ This is anathema to the West almost more than control or limits, but crucial to our place in the universe. It may very well be inhuman to dictate, but very human to obey, like the good children we should all strive to be. And it may be very inhuman to try to control others, but the essence of humanity to try to control ourselves.

    For then harsh words will not be spoken, and harsh actions will not be taken. Sound too simple? Yes, it is, and the most difficult thing for us to accomplish, we raised on the sound and fury of argument and debate. But accomplish it we must, if we are to survive another century. Purify your heart. Purify your mind. Prepare for the coming storm.

     
  • hardie karges 12:17 pm on January 24, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhis, , communist, democratic, emptiness, 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…

     
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