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  • hardie karges 11:49 am on October 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Europe, ,   

    Buddhism and Christianity Occupy Different Realms of the World and Mind.. 

    The best religions unite us. The worst religions divide us. Most do nothing at all—except give a momentary feeling of satisfaction, at a job well done, vindication for following a path, any path, and somehow defining one’s life in the process, even if the changes are subtle.

    We can snicker now at the circumstances surrounding the split between the universal Catholic church of Rome, as it splintered into a thousand Protestant denominations—names—as if, ‘What’s the big deal?’ But at the time it was a very big deal, even if the results and ramifications would not be known for a century or two, just like Athens and Rome before it, and those are the lessons, contained in the names, as each country tries to personify itself in the religion of its choice.

    But one of my favorite themes is that at its origins and Sunday best, a religion should try to change you into something better, so not necessarily what you want to be, but what you should be, as determined by the high priests of your subconscious. But I’m not sure that works. Has Christianity made Europe and America less violent and aggressive? Good question. Has Buddhism made Asia less possessive and grasping? I’m not sure.

    What I am pretty sure of, though, is that it makes us feel better, if only for a day, week, month, or year, and serves as a constant reminder of what we should be doing, even if we fall so unfailingly flat so often. But if our feelings of guilt once pushed us toward religions that chastised us for our failings, now we tend to gravitate toward those that make us feel good in spite of them, best not to even mention them, lest someone should feel a twinge of regret for not doing better.

    So at the same time that we now feel less guilty, our societies and families continue in a downward spiral, those who can’t be bothered to improve themselves, at the cost of a moment’s self-sacrifice. And that is a shame, because instant gratification is a cheap trick at best, and a descent into the abyss at worst. And as it is with Christianity, so it is with Buddhism, and other Eastern religions.

    Buddhism often gets written up as the export version of Hinduism, and if I can’t really agree with that, there is certainly some circumstantial evidence to support it. What is acknowledged less often is the contribution of the resident Jains, who, at the time of the Buddha, were the inspiration of much of the religious seeking, defining and refining that was going on in India at the time of the Buddha, around the mid-millennium before the time of Christ.

    And the same splintering occurred with Buddhism, Hinduism only spared the process, because it was never a doctrine in the first place, and maybe that’s why it was never suitable for export. Ask an Indian. Given sufficient time and circumstances, I think that all religions, despite best original intentions, will devolve into devotion, pure and simple.

    Is that what it takes to unite us? If so, then I suppose the only question is: to what are we devoted? Take your pick. When the world is too cold, warm it with your heart. When the world is too cruel, make it kinder. When you are weary, sleep…

     
  • hardie karges 12:50 pm on April 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Europe,   

    Religion Up for Grabs: Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism… 

    The wise person knows his limits. The foolish person assumes there are none. And this is fundamental, the limits at least as much as the freedoms, to which we are so attached as Westerners, raised on revolution, and carrying flags to prove it, standing our ground, even when that ground is shifting constantly.

    We are attracted to belief systems that reinforce our prejudices, rather than the ones that would teach us something new and different and broaden our horizons beyond that line that separates us from the rest of humanity who we spend our lives dismissing as worthless.

    We are taught to exert ourselves, as if our prejudice must be correct, rather than to embrace something other, which may or may not be, all for the privilege of feeling those same old emotions which always evoke such a rapture of righteousness, when captured within a context of confusion, truth and honesty measured by emotional resonance rather than the logical placement order of propositions.

    But the best religions teach us what we need to know, and practice, not what we know and do already, often to an absurd extent, to the point that it does only harm, no good. Thus future Christians were taught love as remedy for their previous existence as steppes warriors, in the hope that they (we) would cease the racist violence in the hope of a better future.

    And future Muslims were taught to surrender, to God, in the hope that they would lose that chip on the shoulder and be less obsessed with futile victory, and maybe even cease the sexist subjugation, if only the women would hide behind veils.

    And Asians were taught Buddhist non-possession and non-grasping in the hopes that they would quit counting money and start counting time, better spent in contemplation than the great poker game of life. And how is that working out for us all? Has anybody really learned anything? We have to learn that which is hardest, not that which is easiest. I hope that I am wrong about the future of this world. I like being wrong sometimes. When you see a path with heart, you take it. The next revolution will be internal, a revolution of thought…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 4:03 pm on May 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t think you are wrong about the future of the world, Hardie, but there is surely some compensation in knowing why it’s not going well. I think much of the grasping is for a security blanket, something unhappy people seem to need from early on …

      • hardie karges 4:36 pm on May 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, that sounds about right. Thanks for your comments, Dave…

        • Dave Kingsbury 4:46 pm on May 1, 2020 Permalink

          Should have said, your post gives the reasons it’s not going well, I just added a psychological observation. 🙂

  • hardie karges 6:08 pm on December 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Europe,   

    Religion Imitates Art: Christian Self-Love and Buddhist Non-Self… 

    img_0953“Man is the measure of all things”…and there began our downfall, this from the Greek Sophist Protagoras and his very sophisticated argument that we human beings are the only thing that matters in this world, our silly views and opinions superior to all others, of course, by virtue of our virtue, and in spite of our spite, the pathological needs of humanity, a sort of radical solipsistic relativism…

    This argument only works with a strong belief and need for self, arguably the origin of consciousness, i.e. self-consciousness, and any further extrapolations indicative of the direction our culture has taken since then, hence our pathological need for democracy, free enterprise, a TV in every room and a car in every garage, every aspect an extension of, and ultimate belief in ourselves, each one of us totally different, supposedly, with or without the bar-code, identified by fingerprints and the DNA from random salivations and assorted misgivings… (More …)

     
    • davekingsbury 3:05 pm on December 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      It doesn’t take a genius to realize that there is a higher consciousness than self-consciousness, or that there are higher needs than selfish ones…absolutely, the opposite is a horror story!

    • Alexia Adder 12:37 am on January 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      It’s true scientifically speaking that all life on this planet is interdependent. Western philosophy tends to emphasize independence and the self in human society, but in reality this is an illusion. We’re part of the animal kingdom. We’re not above it. We’re subject to it.

      • hardie karges 7:53 am on January 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Yes. I’ve been studying genomics. It’s only logical that if we all have a common human ancestor, then we also have prior animal ones, a path back in time…

  • hardie karges 6:18 pm on June 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brexit, Europe, Lexit, , UK   

    Brexit Through the Gift Shop, Lexit thru the Green Lane (‘Nothing to Declare’)… 

    The Union Flag: a red cross over combined red and white saltires, all with white borders, over a dark blue background.“Bernie Sanders on Brexit: The World Economy is not Working for Everybody” (minor HuffPo headline from the day after the Brexit vote). Get it? Got it. Bernie is a ‘Leaver’, albeit for different reasons than Boris and Nigel; or at least he’s not a clear-cut ‘Remainer’, not even as much as Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, who held his nose and shut his samosa-slot, and meekly supported the ‘Remain’ bloc, only after forty years of protesting the EU and only after his own rise to power. Damn by feint (!) praise, perhaps?

    Yes, there was also a leftist ‘Lexit’ (‘Left Leave’) vote, with the same goal as Brexit, just another reason and another season for getting there. This is the difference between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, and ultimately the reason I couldn’t support Bernie, even though his ideals are closer to mine than Hillary’s. (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 12:06 pm on July 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Europe, ,   

    Greece on the installment Plan… 

    So I guess Greece figures that Europe needs them more than they need Europe–interesting theory; hope that works out for them…

     
  • hardie karges 3:56 pm on June 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Europe, , , movies   

    European Films: Good, Bad, and Ugly 

    I’m happy to report that Europe is full of lousy films. I feel like this is a real breakthrough, considering all the really good films they used to make, back in the day of Truffaut, Godard, Bunuel, Bergman, Antonioni, and of course Fellini.  Where would Woody Allen be today without them?  Don’t answer that. 

    This new mediocrity might not have been obvious from the generally favorable reviews of the European films I review here. That comes from my major flaw as a critic: I don’t like to criticize. I could be wrong, after all. So I tend to review movies that I like. I’ve noticed that most film reviewers like to trash the films they review, while most music reviewers tend to be supportive. Hmmm, I wonder what that means, when most films are corporate-sponsored mega-budget monsters, while many musicians struggle to eat; but I digress… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 5:17 pm on April 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Europe, ,   

    Happy Easter, Passable Passover: Jesus as Shaman… 

    Christian church in Ethiopia

    Christian church in Ethiopia

    Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. ….

    That one line is enough to seal Jesus’s claim to fame as a prophet for me, even as much or more than the commandment of all commandments to “love your neighbor as yourself”, because it speaks to the heart of belief, and belief systems, which, of course, are at the very heart of religion, all religions. It even foresees the current degenerate state of ‘celebrity sickness’ that consumes the West in which everyone pursues his fifteen minutes of Warholian fame, and for which nothing else will suffice.

    When pilots crash planes and kill passengers just so they will be remembered, then we have a problem. When school-kids murder classmates for the same reason, then it’s obvious that the disease attacks at an early age. We chastise and castigate Muslim fundamentalists for their misplaced martyrdom, but offer no such cultural indictments upon our own celebrity-sick suicides, manipulative marketing techniques nor the ubiquitous hero-worship that populates social media to the gills. The desire for celebrity is the desire to be worshiped, the height of egotism.

    Jesus could foresee all that as easily as he could see that he himself would find scarce acceptance where people knew him as Joseph the carpenter’s son. He could see that people would become bored with Rome and seek knowledge in gurus and mahatmas and eventually even the parables of a mysterious carpenter’s son, but that his own family would never see that in him. Such is the price of enlightenment; it is selective.

    Jesus is possibly the greatest religious figure of all time, but he was a lousy religion-builder. That’s why we don’t sit around reading his great writings. He didn’t write. Buddha, Muhammad, Lao-tse and Confucius did much better at systems-building. That’s not Jesus’s failure, though, if he never intended such. What we study as Christian doctrine is as much Plato and Aristotle as Jesus. I think Jesus’s mission was to remind us of what we were about to forget as nomadic tribespeople as what we were about to learn as civilized city-folk, something he could see clearly while gazing upon Rome from Palestine.

    Jesus was a shaman, a Jewish one. Everything he did was shamanic, the communion with spirits and the performance of miracles. This was a rare commodity around the beginning of the Common Era, but it may have been much more common much earlier. Jesus could have intuited much of that, if not picked it up outright from one of many nomadic people still unassimilated at the time.

    Little or nothing is known of Jesus’s missing eighteen years, during which time it is imagined that he hang with the Essenes, Sadducees, or Pharisees, or even ventured as far afield as India to receive enlightenment; anything but the likely truth that he drove nails: all the better to appreciate the irony of having them driven into him a few short years later (and possibly developing some resentment against the conquering Romans).

    Easter is all about Jesus’s resurrection, his supposed return to life after death, every bit as miraculous as his supposed virgin birth; veracity optional. His magic act depended as much on suspension of disbelief as it did on physical transformation. That’s what shamans do. So do doctors, as in placebo effect. His healings are proof of his divinity for us otherwise-rational pharma-weary Westerners, whereas Christians of different backgrounds might find a different emphasis. His teachings pretty much boil down to one word: love. Duh.

    Now that’s revolutionary, but hardly a system of religion. Buddhist may have been a Buddhist and Muhammad was probably a Muslim, but Jesus was never a Christian. That’s the attraction, the call of the wilderness in us Europeans who scarcely even existed as a definitive group in Jesus’s times, Christianity and Europe coming into being together, in some sort of symbiotic relationship, developing a creed much different from that more aboriginal style still to be found today in Ethiopia, Armenia, and yes, even Palestine. Jesus is the wild crazy guy inside us, speaking in that still small voice. Now there’s food for thought. Happy Easter.

     
  • hardie karges 4:15 am on December 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Europe, ,   

    I always thought rock & roll was an English language phenomenon, 

    as if all the joy and love, all the fear and angst, all the excitement and transcendence, all the sturm und drang, were somehow hard-wired into the language, directly related to the German structure/Romanticized content of the language. Let’s face it, for whatever the reason, the Continent doesn’t produce much great rock-and-roll. Sure there’s Bjork and Nina Hagen, and the occasional stray genius like Manu Chao, but mostly we’re talking the mediocrity of Abba or Ace of Base and for you really hard-rockers, we’ve got Scorpions. For those of you who refuse to get professional help, we’ve got Swedish Death Metal. This hardly compares with the hundreds of bands blasting out basements and lofts in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, and Australia. Why the Continent never developed a pop-cultural rock & roll edge to rival the English-speaking world could be speculated upon endlessly, but that’s not the point. The point is that great R & R is possible in other languages, and not just half-breed and ‘fusion’ groups, as Carabao in Thailand and Mana’ in Mexico amply prove. The reasons behind the anomaly probably lie more in the given socio-politico-economic realities than in the aptitude of the language. Europe is a museum, just too expensive and rigidified to experiment. They almost missed the Industrial revolution before; now they’re missing the Entertainment one also. Computers and Internet are but the tip of the iceberg. When it’s all over, you won’t know what’s real and what’s entertainment.

     
  • hardie karges 6:51 am on July 7, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Europe   

    America itself has seen better days. 

    It’s lonely at the top, pretending to know what’s best for everybody else when you can’t even solve your own problems, pretending you’re on the side of history when you haven’t even read the book. It’s lonely at the top, bullying the rest of the world into submission for their own good, whether they like it or not. I want my revolution back. I want the moral upper hand. I want to carry the flag of peace, love, and understanding through the streets demanding justice. I want to solve the world’s problems and still maintain the standard of living to which I’ve become accustomed. Europeans have got the best of all possible worlds right now- high standard of living, cheap Slavic labor, and potentially the world’s most powerful single government, if and when they decide to commit. Let the US fuck up first; there’s no hurry. I guess they deserve it, after all they’ve been through. It’s hard being the world leader. Nobody appreciates it; everybody resents it. But it seems like somebody’s got to take the lead, and I can’t say who I’d rather have, except maybe Europe. I fear the US is falling behind Europe intellectually. Country people may be the nicest people in the world, but that doesn’t mean they’re the smartest. Now that Europe has finally and unequivocally thrown off the yoke of the Church and the Party, they’re the standard bearer for liberal democracy, while the US increasingly looks like a frumpy old housewife and her grumpy old redneck husband. Processing kids through school, pass or fail, does not set new standards of excellence. Society pays for it in the long run. Urbanity does not guarantee intellectual achievement any more than rural life prevents it. It’s a matter of intent and discipline. There’s no shortcut to intellect; you gotta’ do the work.

     
  • hardie karges 12:06 pm on July 4, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Europe   

    € vs $ 

    The world takes perverse pleasure poking through America’s underwear, digging through the trash, looking for anything incriminating- blood, shit, pee stains, bank statements, whatever it takes to prove what they’ve always known, i.e. ‘it’ll never work’, or maybe ‘they’re stupid’. Forget the fact that America invents the world, regardless of who ends up being the monkey on the production line screwing things up and bolting them down. Forget the fact that, by virtue of her leadership role, America has to take responsibility for nearly everything that happens in the world, whether she had any role in it or not. Forget the fact that things have probably never been better, materially at least, in the world, and that the life we live is virtually identical with what used to be called ‘the American Dream’. Now that Western Europe no longer needs the protection of America against the big bad Russians and the gray spectral cloud of world Communism, they feel free to insult us ad nauseum ad infinitum, disregarding the fact that we ARE them, genetically and culturally, though presumably the black sheep, in their opinion, I guess. Perhaps it’s a feature of human nature to disparage what is close in character but distant in geography. I hope they DO unite and assume world leadership. Let them fuck up again, as they used to do so well.

     
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