Tagged: First Noble Truth Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • hardie karges 8:14 am on April 30, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , First Noble Truth, Huineng, , , ,   

    Buddhist Imperfection and the Crazy Wisdom of Zen  

    The Buddha never said we’re all perfect, quite the opposite. He said that we are nothing but ‘heaps’ of causes and conditions that he called skandhas. He never even said that he’s perfect. And those imperfections can be the basis for positive change. He DID list change as one of the causes of our suffering, but significantly less than that of the First Noble Truth—craving. Maybe that’s not surprising, from someone who was born into the lap of luxury, since change for someone of destitute poverty might only be for the better.  

    But that’s arguable, also, so let’s just split the difference and apply the Buddha’s own Middle Path to conclude that change can go either way, good or bad, which is convenient, since it’s inevitable. The point is that, in its origins, imperfection is at the heart of the Buddha’s vision, though the Zen sect of the Mahayana school would, like some Christian sects (such as Christian Science), reverse that position and argue that manifesting our innate perfection is only right and proper. 

    They also said that if you meet the Buddha on the road, then you should kill him. Hmmm. Obviously, there’s a logical explanation to that apparent exhortation to violence, but I won’t go into it. I’ll only say that I prefer a simpler approach to enlightenment. The Zen thing is to show the limits and traps of language, and I agree whole-heartedly with that, but I don’t necessarily agree to a Dadaist approach to it. One of the Christian sideline precepts is to say what you mean and mean what you say, (“Let your yes be yes and your no be no”), and they just might have that right. 

    No, I don’t think that anyone has all the answers, and it is to Buddhism’s credit that so much dialogue is allowed, and even encouraged, which promotes a larger dialectic. In fact, this is how the Zen master Hui-Neng upstaged the heir apparent to replace the current master, to whom he was only a rank (in)subordinate. Thus began the line of thought that we are not here to train our minds but to acknowledge the illusion of reality, so something like an alternative Mayanist (haha) school, which thrives to this day as subplot to many more orthodox traditions. We are not perfect, but this is why we practice… 

  • hardie karges 9:31 am on April 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , First Noble Truth,   

    Buddhism During a Crisis, Coronavirus Redux… 

    Nothing better illustrates the Buddhist First Truth of suffering than the Coronavirus, proclaimed as novel, but I’m not so sure. Because nothing is truly novel in the realm of suffering, especially when delivered by the sneaky intercessions of a virus. Somebody once said that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional, though it wasn’t Buddha who said that, however congruent with his teachings it may or may not be. No, the Buddha was pretty clear about the inevitability of suffering, and the Eight-Step program to its mitigation, and hopefully cure. Now if there’s a difference in meaning between pain and suffering, then it’s the difference between looking and seeing, listening and hearing, touching and feeling, in that one verb is transitive, affecting objects, while the other is intransitive, something felt, so more than simple observation of another.

    But my point is that Buddhism can help, in times like these, by simply acknowledging the normalcy of suffering, if nothing else. I suspect that many Westerners accustomed to amusement parks and weekend larks will have a much harder time of it than some Orientals accustomed to struggle. After all, you don’t see Asians serenading each other in captivity, now, do you? And if the Western commitment to ‘never change our way of life’ is charming, in a way, then in another way, it’s rather discouraging. This IS a good time for paradigm shifts, I’d say. Because mostly this is a psychological shock, more than medical, economic, or even ecological. Most Westerners are accustomed, even taught, to control Nature, reign her in, to do our bidding, and the idea that She is there as something to be awed and revered, is rather secondary. I mean sure, we go visit national parks and snap our pics, but as often as not we’re snapping pics of each other, and God knows, our selfies.

    Most of all, though, we’ve just never been taught to look inward, and those introverts among us tend to be categorized as ‘losers’ by the type-A bullies who think that aggression comes first, then questions come later, if ever. So I don’t see the Coronavirus as a death sentence, but just the opposite, in fact, an opportunity to make some necessary changes socially and ecologically, perhaps first and most important, but also personally, mostly within the theme of ‘less is more’, simple pleasures, and a shift away from consumption toward contemplation. For now, though, the bottom line is all about control, self-control, preferably. Because I don’t think it’s any accident that the countries hardest hit are those that are the most freedom-obsessive, and the countries doing best are those most controlled. But I prefer the self-control of the Buddhist countries over the government control of the ex-Communist countries of East Europe and elsewhere. So for us it’s a bittersweet victory, but for Nature it’s jubilant. Global Warming lost a battle this year…

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc