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  • hardie karges 10:49 am on October 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , free will, , , , , ,   

    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 5:20 am on December 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , free will, , , possessions, ,   

    Buddhism 202: Slavery to Self and the Addictions of Ego… 

    Slavery can also be self-inflicted, addiction to money and ego and possessions and false gods, you name it. And I suppose it’s not even a bad thing, necessarily, as some Buddhist devotees proudly display their ‘slavery’ to the Buddha, just like any latter-day Krishna devotee named Das (Sanskrit for ‘slave’). But those are particular and peculiar exceptions to the general rule that freedom is better, self-control the best kind of control, and any exception to that rule to be approached with extreme caution. Because morality demands free will, or at least the illusion of such, to whatever extent possible, given the limits imposed by biological existence and the vicissitudes of circumstance. For we are nothing if not crippled, by space and time and the frequencies at which we are sentient, to light and sound, especially, somewhere between infrared and ultraviolet, and 20 to 20,000 Hz in this world best defined physically by mechanical waves of the kind that shock and reverberate, percussion with repercussions, and the sonic blasts that level all buildings and pretenses to greatness and permanence. Addictions are false gods and self-slavery, selling yourself to the highest bidder for selves and souls on the credit card for true believers, no down payment required and discount options available with bulk purchase. But every purchase comes with a warning: that warm fuzzy feeling that felt so good the first time may not feel so good the last, in some sliding scale of proportionately inverse pleasure, calculated to leave you wanting more the more you have, just the opposite of the Platonic need for what you don’t have, instead the Satanic need for what you do have. But in the end it’s all just ‘maya’, illusion, because it ultimately gets you nowhere, and advances you not a whit, because all your frills and bangles, fancy buttons and silk bows, won’t make you a better person, and that’s the mark of progress…

    • Dave Kingsbury 4:15 am on December 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Invigorating perspectives, as always, Hardie! Our addictions aren’t always obvious to us, it seems …

      • hardie karges 5:01 am on December 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        No, not always obvious, and not even necessarily bad. Thanks for your comment…

        • Dave Kingsbury 5:29 pm on December 7, 2019 Permalink

          The word carries a pejorative association for me, so interesting to consider it from another angle … I suppose enthusiasm and dedication, for example, require a degree of obsessional focus in a distracting world.

        • hardie karges 6:38 pm on December 7, 2019 Permalink

          Yes, I know it’s difficult to see the word as positive, but the name Das confirms it, just checked modern Hindi, and it’s the same, but with connotations of ‘devotee’, now, of course. For me the distinction is that between self-control and control by others, and that’s very central to the implicit meaning of Buddhism, even if seldom articulated…

        • Dave Kingsbury 3:46 am on December 8, 2019 Permalink

          I can see the distinction you describe – a very important one in an increasingly homogenous world, I reckon.

  • hardie karges 9:41 am on December 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , free will, freesom, responsibility   

    Free Will and Freedom, Surviving Christmas… 

    Well, we all survived the most difficult day of the year—Christmas, aka the Royal Gorge—so I suppose that life goes on and we will live to see another day. This is good, I think, considering the options. I generally try to avoid sharp objects on that day. To say that Christmas has ‘lost its way’ would be an understatement, of course, but then: isn’t that true of all religions and holidays?

    The challenge as always is to make this world as perfect as we humanly can, in terms of truth beauty and goodness, as a reflection of that more perfect world of spirit. That means a world that is clean green and serene, with an interesting cast of characters displayed upon the green screen, for eventual release in a theatre near you. And on a personal level that means that each of us has the freedom—and responsibility—to do good. Let’s get started.

    Of course we Westerners—including Americans, especially Americans—believe in freedom like nothing else, absolute and inviolable, in yo’ face and reliably profane, seldom profound. You score points in Western culture by showing skin, by showing balls, by being offensive and downright insulting. Aggression is our calling card and massive armies our stock in trade.

    “The best defense is a good offense,” or so the story goes. We ‘liberate’ peoples around the world, giving them their ‘freedom’ and wishing them good luck, with a pat on the back and a Starbucks coffee coupon, worth a couple bucks. Welcome to America. Real freedom is nothing like that, though. Real freedom is a metaphysical necessity, a metaphysical reality, nothing to do with the chains around your heart or your ankles.

    Real freedom is a freedom of the will, the freedom to do good or bad, and to be called to answer for your actions and your decisions. This is the essence of morality, to do good or bad, of your own volition. There is a tendency in popular societal narratives to avoid and evade this responsibility but it is real, and disallowing it only perpetuates it, presumably so that no one’s feelings get hurt.  For example, it is often said that alcoholism is a disease, implying not only that it isn’t your fault, but that there is a cure. I’d say that there is more likely a cure if the onus is placed squarely on the shoulders of the free agent.

    Likewise no one should get credit for his moral actions if nothing is truly given. For some rich bloke to act like he’s moral because he threw the bums a dime in his prime is pathetic and ridiculous. Better you should cross the street to help a handicapped person open a door—for no money or even thanks. That is an act of kindness and charity that confers merit upon the bearer regardless of any financial importance.

    Our rush to put a monetary value upon everything, acts of kindness included, is a sign of our own poverty, not those of the so-called ‘poor’. We have only mastered money when we can live without it. And the hypothetical ‘freedom’ involved in portraying various religious prophets in various acts of sex, distress or undress is not freedom. That’s something else. I am NOT Charlie what’s-his-name…

    Freedom is all about responsibility, the responsibility to do good, not purchase mass quantities of consumer goods. Let’s add another tenet to our hypothetically perfect religion—moderation in consumption and strict recycling and extreme non-wastefulness. Christmas needs to take a different direction. Maybe the best offense is a good defense. Sounds good to me.

  • hardie karges 9:44 am on April 19, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , free will   

    Free will is one of the conundrums of human existence. 

    Are we really free-lance actors in an experimental theatre or is someone, indeed, ‘pulling the strings’? Has it ‘all been written’ so that a fortune-teller or psychic reader can merely decipher the text? Certainly, much has been written in the book of DNA handed everyone at birth, and much has been written in the culture one is socialized into. Nevertheless, there are many opportunities for independent action. One can only play the hand one is given, but one can certainly play that hand any number of ways. On the extrapolated level of nations and races, much can be made of the advantages ‘given’ the West by virtue of its descent from cultures of the Mid-east and the cereal grains inherited, as put for in ‘Guns, Germs, and Steel’. No, that’s not a rock group, but a brilliant tome, if flawed ultimately. Human history is largely one of cultural evolution, including food production, not nutritional evolution. The argument is self-defeating. Food production beyond mere subsistence can be achieved quite naturally in any number of ways, depending on the geographic and historical, including cultural, milieu. Once accomplished, culture is free to plot the future of its race to the finish. That is the true story of history, as I see it.

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