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  • hardie karges 10:58 am on May 29, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Covid, , , , Four Noble Truths, , , 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 6:30 am on May 15, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: autoplay, , , , Four Noble Truths, , , neuroscience   

    Buddhism, Meditation, and the Sounds of Silence 

    Words can do damage. We all know that instinctively. And silence never hurt anyone. We know that, too. So,  I would almost like to make this the Fifth Noble Truth, but I guess it’s too late for that, haha. It’s true, though, and I think the practice of meditation intuited this from the get-go, whether it was ever fully articulated or not, until recently. Because we now know about the language overload and barrage that we are subjected to every day, when such a thing might not have been so obvious two thousand years ago.

    But that’s the first thing that the neuroscience researchers asked me, when they interviewed me as a possible test subject for their research on meditation. “Can you stop the internal dialogue?” Hehe, that’s the whole point, IMHO. “Do you know what I’m talking about?” They asked again to make certain I understood. Yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about. And that’s really the only thing that stands out from the entire series of ‘Don Juan’ books written by Carlos Castaneda, in which the shaman Don Juan constantly implores the student to stop that same dialogue, among other things.

    But some people are sensitive to that, at least in sudden form, so it should not be forced. And that’s because we think in a language, or two. There is some debate about whether we thought before we had language, and I believe we did, but once we got it, there’s no turning it off, except deliberately. Otherwise it just goes on and on, seemingly endlessly, until death do us part. And yes, this is likely the origin and mainstay of the ‘duality’ that is such a popular topic in New-Agey forums, whether anyone knows what it means or not. That voice in the background must be the Self or Other, one or the other.

    But there is a social context, also, in which the air waves we all share are simply bombarding us with sound constantly. And if Autoplay on Internet is the worst offender, well, the bar down the street is not much better, nor are the loud-mouthed Americans down the hall at my bare-budget residencia  in Coimbra. Silence is no longer normal. And it should be. How can I quiet the voices in my head, when I can’t quiet the voices all around me? That’s what meditation is for, silent meditation, no app necessary…

     
  • hardie karges 7:45 am on February 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Four Noble Truths, , ,   

    Buddhism: A Noble Truth or Two (and a few lesser ones)… 

    The one who can control himself, can control the world—his world…

    Buddha in his Four Noble Truths didn’t say that craving is THE (one and only) cause of dukkha, i.e. suffering. Pali and Sanskrit have no definite articles. But it is certainly one of them, and by the fact that the Buddha mentioned no others right then and there, it certainly seems logical to assume that it is perhaps the greatest of them. He did mention others elsewhere, though, and impermanence comes quickly to mind as one of those that he specifically wrote about in that context.

    Perhaps impermanence was Buddha’s first encounter with dukkha? I know that it was mine, at the ripe old age of eight years old, in Jackson, MS, USA, as my parents prepared to migrate from the Big City out to the nearby countryside, and all that I knew and loved would change overnight, perhaps more than can be easily imagined here and now almost sixty years later. Because not only was that my first encounter with suffering of the existential sort, but it was also my first encounter with culture shock. I cried for days, and not only survived but thrived.

    I even started to like that culture shock around the time I visited my twelfth or thirteenth country a few years later. Similarly, the Buddha did not say anything to the effect that ‘all life is suffering.’ But as he listed the various manifestations of suffering, e.g., birth, old age, disease, and death, then that might certainly be implied. That’s what he was obsessed with, most likely, because that’s what he was shielded from for most of his life—until he went outside. And so we must all go outside to find what is inside each of us.

    And what we find inside is another world, a different world, almost another dimension, as different as Virtual Reality from our modern materialistic world of Science. And it is a world of feeling and perception, the only world that a sentient being can truly know. Everything else is only a likely story, and a likeable story at that. You shouldn’t have to choose between Buddhism and Science. You don’t. And sometimes short-term suffering brings the greatest long-term benefits. Don’t panic. Be patient. Be kind and adapt to changing circumstances. Impermanence shouldn’t be a cause of suffering.

     
  • hardie karges 7:45 am on January 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Four Noble Truths, , , ,   

    Buddhism 101: Do the Right Thing, Quietly… 

    To do the right thing isn’t always easy. Do it anyway: samma-ditthi, samma-sankappa, samma-vaca, samma-kammanta, samma-ajiva, samma-vayama, samma-sati, samma-samadhi, often translated as Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration, though I’m not sure what the difference is between Right Understanding and Right Thought. But I do know that Right View is often substituted for one or the other of them, I assume the first, since the modern Nepali translation of ‘view’ is drsya, and probably better for the very reason of its distinction from ‘thought.’

    And then there are those who would object to the translation of ‘samma’ as ‘right,’ though for what reason I can’t remember now, and probably misguided, if we remember that ‘right’ in this case is in the context of ‘appropriate,’ which would agree nicely with that word’s derivation in modern standard Thai, which has probably half of its words derived from Pali and/or Sanskrit.

    Re-translation is the curse of modern-day Buddhism, especially American-based Buddhism, which must reconcile ancient Indian thought derived from deep contemplation with modern critical analysis largely derived from empirical testing on one hand, and the faddish trends of fashion on the other, and the need for brief sound bites with universal happy endings, perfect for mass consumption.

    And that’s fine, since Buddhism is an ongoing dialog, or dialectic, in constant search of a higher truth, those first Four Noble ones and that ensuing Eightfold Path but the starting point for further developments and the groundwork for the Precepts, that were once typically translated as Commandments for simplicity of reason, faith and understanding. All religions seem to need tenets, even when they are almost identical, since most people need constant reminding of even the simplest things in life.

    For example: Samma Vaca, Right Speech, is not just for your friends, but your enemies, too, and strangers unnamed and uncounted. Obvious, right? But until someone articulates that most important point, then it might very well go unnoticed by most typical text-skimmers. Less obvious is that all this verbiage is excessive, and should be unnecessary, except for our habits of point and counterpoint, parry and thrust. Buddhism is a religion and philosophy of silence, at the core of its being and existence. Silence is normal. All noise should be treated as an alien force, approached with caution and handled with great care.

     
  • hardie karges 10:49 am on October 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Four Noble Truths, , , , , , ,   

    Buddhist Non-attachment and Free Will 

    You can be connected to everything and attached to nothing. That is the Holy Grail, for me, at least, of life in general, and Buddhism in particular. Because, despite the apparent similarities, the difference between the two activities is craving, upadana in Pali/Sanskrit, and that is the deal-killer, as articulated in the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths, number two, to be exact. Visually, imagine making contact, but without a hook that attaches you to that other surface.

    Now isn’t that preferable? Because without that hook, then you are free. And with freedom comes responsibilities. But with that hook, then you are enslaved. And when you are enslaved, not only have you lost your precious freedom, but you have lost your moral responsibility. Because if there is no free will, then there is no morality.

    So, the metaphysicians can argue all they want about the existence, or not, of free will, using arguments based on reason and logic, but the proof depends on the necessity—or not—of morality. Because free will can never be proven empirically, since it’s an abstract concept, and thus not subject to the demands of reason nor logic. But it is subject to the demands of morality. Ontologically, there is no absolute free will, though a limited one, subject to circumstances. This world is our circumstance. It demands morality.

     
  • hardie karges 5:24 am on October 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Euclid, Fibonacci, Four Noble Truths, golden mean, golden ratio, , , , ,   

    Zero, Emptiness and the Golden Mean of Buddhism… 

    img_1935The concept of the Golden Mean always crossed my mind when studying Buddhism, but I never heard anyone reference it re: the Middle Path, i.e. madhyamagga, until recently, and while I’m not sure the reference is entirely correct, I do think the possibilities are exciting. In fact the Golden Ratio (a probably more accurate term) is 1.618, “a special number found by dividing a line into two parts so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is also equal to the whole length divided by the longer part”—Wikipedia

    This is also the foundation of the famous Fibonacci sequence, ubiquitous as a design principle in nature, and known to humans as early as Plato and Euclid, who was first to define it, and celebrated initially because for some reason it just looks good, or somehow feels right, notwithstanding the fact that it is by definition always a bit eccentric, i.e. off-center…

    And in fact the concept of center did not fully even exist at the time, before the invention of zero, so only geometrically as the fixed point of a radius, but not mathematically as a divider and multiplier for ever-increasing levels of exponential counting, literally ‘powers of zero’, or ‘powers of ten’, if you prefer, in addition to forming something of a ‘dead center’ or ‘ground zero’ mathematically, which can be repeated infinitely as decimals for each and every member of the count… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 4:04 pm on March 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Four Noble Truths, millennials,   

    #Buddhism and #Politics, in Defense of post-Millennials: 

    img_1987Yes, this is a dimension of suffering, more than the sum of your life, more than the breadth of this world, an entire dimension, or two, length width depth time and biology chemistry physics, at the very least, all conspiring to keep you within limits, physical limits, by a margin of maybe 51 to 49, you’re doomed, to a life sentence, paragraph, chapter and verse, complete with death, guaranteed, and there’s not much you can do about that, no matter what some sweet-talking New Age guru with his most articulate drugstore Buddhism tells you…

    And then there are the joys, too, to be fair, to be honest, the joys of family, and communion, and art and culture and sex and first love, but still there will be last rites, and that is the point, and the Buddha knew that, fully and well, he not some party-pooper intent on spoiling the fun, just quite aware that for every count of fun there would be two of misery, in some cause-effect relationship, you can plot it on a graph, and call it the Four Aryan Truths, if you want, to be mitigated by the Eight-Part Path (please do not fold), which will not solve all your problems, but it’s a good place to start… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:24 am on September 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Four Noble Truths, ,   

    ME 6103: So You Wanna’ Be a Buddhist? Eat this… 

    IMG_1184

    Buddhist shrine in Sri Lanka

    So you’ve just finished “Buddhism for Dummies” and think that you might want to take the big plunge, into Buddhism, that is, and now you’re wondering what to do next? Well, I’ve got good news and bad news: there is no Big Plunge, not really, so you can just start calling yourself a Buddhist when ever and wherever you want, limited only by time and circumstance…

    And if you need more than that, then you can go to a Buddhist meditation retreat for a more intense introduction, BUT: unless it’s coordinated with a Buddhist temple, then it’s probably not really Buddhist. Most American meditation events are yoga-affiliated, and while that’s fine, and highly recommended—it ain’t Buddhism. Yoga is a Hindu discipline. Meditation is both, Hindu and Buddhist, too, plus the almost-forgotten-by-now Jains, and others… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 6:37 am on April 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Four Noble Truths,   

    Buddhism’s First Noble Truth: Everything is broken… 

    IMG_1559So now that I’ve self-identified as Buddhist for almost a year, I figure I know pretty well the heart and mind of the Buddha, and so should begin second-guessing him, in order to clarify a few points that remain confusing after 2560 years (cue snickers). Okay, so here goes: everybody knows the Four Noble Truths, right? 1) The prevalence of suffering; 2) the cause of suffering: craving; 3) the cure for suffering: don’t do that, and 4) the way to accomplish that: follow the Middle Path, avoidance of extremes…

    So let’s do the math, and I’ll go Buddha one-up: If the cause of suffering is craving, which is normal, then suffering is normal—at least in this world, in this lifetime. And indeed many potential students of Buddhism never get past the ‘First Noble Truth’: That this world is full of suffering, first and foremost. Now deal with it. And Buddhism does—deal with it. But a lot of people find it depressing, seeing suffering before all else, when many people consider themselves quite happy, thank you… (More …)

     
    • davekingsbury 3:09 pm on April 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Philosophy and so much more … your engaged approach is encouraging and creative … and I love the idea of ‘soft power’ … “in which the subject is unimportant, usually, but the actions to which we are subjected (get it?) are paramount … Yes, passive voice: that’s a good way to describe Buddhism, reflexive verbs and indirect objects, intransitive verbs and shy unassuming subjects… “

  • hardie karges 7:20 am on February 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Four Noble Truths,   

    Four Noble Truths of Buddhism: and Christianity and… 

    img_0545All good Buddhists know the Four Noble Truths: the prevalence of suffering, the cause of suffering—grasping and craving; the way to avoid suffering—quit grasping and craving; and the details of that path—the Middle Way, or eight-fold path, similar to Christianity’s Ten Commandments. But what if the other great religions were to have four truths of their own? What would they be?

    First let’s generalize. To be consistent with the Buddhist example, four such ‘truths’ should: 1) articulate the prevailing reality; 2) articulate the cause of that reality; 3) articulate a path forward, given that reality, and 4) articulate the details of that path. Okay, so for Christianity, I figure the First Noble truth would be: 1) the prevalence of pleasure, i.e. life is for enjoyment, 2) the cause of that pleasure—acquisition of ‘goods’, experiences, or services; 3) the path forward would be to acquire more goods, experiences, and services; and 4)… (More …)

     
    • davekingsbury 10:52 am on February 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Startling insights and a pretty good blueprint for personal development, I’d say. Keats said life was a process of soul-building and the building blocks are here, ready to assemble …

      • hardie karges 6:53 pm on February 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        I love all the Romantic poets, big influence, can’t believe I never made it to the Lake District…

    • davekingsbury 4:47 pm on February 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Reckon you did in spirit. It’s just a bunch of rocks and tearooms, anyway …

    • Alexia Adder 12:08 am on January 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Christianity and ancient Christianity are such radically different things they hardly resemble each other. Protestant work ethic and a bunch of other toxic ideas became standard in Christianity when Jesus wasn’t even a capitalist. It’s so strange. Many also scapegoat Satan.

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