Tagged: freedom Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • hardie karges 11:32 am on April 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , freedom, , , ,   

    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.

    (More …)
     
  • hardie karges 1:09 pm on March 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , freedom, , , ,   

    Goodbye Corona, Hello Global Warming, Dark Age Optional… 

    Proof of Vaccination

    I got my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine against the Covid-19 virus today, so I guess that now is as good a time as any to put the finishing touches on this pandemic. Yes, I know that it’s not over and could go on at least another year or more, but for me, this is a defining point, and so I think I hear the fat lady singing. And I say that with a twinge of sadness, because for me it’s been a good year, not in material acquisitions, but in spiritual gain. Because the times of greatest stress and suffering often coincide with the greatest spiritual gains. This is as obvious in Jesus’s eschatological emergence as the Roman Empire entered its down days, as it was in the Buddha’s times, with the emergence of India’s and China’s rise as the two dominant centers of world population, a position that they maintain to this day.

    (More …)
     
    • Dave Kingsbury 4:17 pm on March 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      First, congratulations on receiving the double dose – each successful step something we can all celebrate. Second, can’t fault your analysis of the recent past nor your prognosis for the near future. Third, you outline new ways of thinking and responding which are also – satisfyingly – a return to older wisdoms. Vive l’humanite!

      • hardie karges 5:03 pm on March 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply

        Hear hear! Thanx for your comments, Dave…

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

    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 12:08 pm on March 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , deliverance, , freedom, primum non nocere   

    Buddhism and the Freedom to do Nothing… 

    Freedom FROM is as much or more important than freedom TO, and this illustrates much of the historic difference between east and west, Buddhism and Christianity, that we Westerners typically want to DO this and DO that, as if all these actions hold supreme importance, as if the world has somehow advanced a step forward if one of the flying Wallenda brothers walks the tightrope over the Grand Canyon or not, as if the spectacles of our life are more important than our fundamental dignity, as if a more important goal is to put the ‘fun’ back in that ‘fundamental’ freedom. But this is a perversion of the concept, IMHO, because a more important freedom is the freedom from the fetters that constrain us, freedom from the ties that bind too tightly, regardless of whether we push that freedom to its final conclusion, regardless of whether we tempt fate simply for the sake of the deliverance we so desire. Because deliverance is easier than all that, it being a simple freedom FROM something, whatever it is that you so fear. Desire need not be brought into this simple equation, when the only result we seek is a simple zero which signifies balance. So why do we need to risk death to prove that we are free, when it is death that we want deliverance from in the first place? Obviously, we don’t. But boredom is the price of freedom, in that once we are free, that we don’t always know what to do with it, because for me to thrust my freedom in your face is to assert the primacy of my freedom to DO something over your freedom to be free FROM something, i.e. me, in this case. But we Americans love to ‘get in people’s faces’, ‘push your buttons’, ‘stand our ground’, even if it means that we reserve the right to follow you around doing just that (and these are all actual quotes, not mere suppositions). And this is something that Buddhism understands well, and makes it negative, in a technical sense, in that you really don’t have to do anything to be a good Buddhist, because more important is what you don’t do, which is to harm anyone else, or any sentient being, for that matter, so not dissimilar from the classic maxim of bio-ethical non-maleficence ‘primum non nocere’, i.e. first do no harm. And the principle carries over easily into social ethics: you don’t have to do anything, as long as you do nothing bad. So ‘not bad’ becomes the definition of ‘good’, and ‘unfettered’ becomes the definition of ‘freedom’. And if this seems like a passive lifestyle, then so be it. You can test your limits as time permits, as long as it does not impinge on the limits of others. After all, the future is distinctly uncertain, and so risky, while the past is certain, but scarcely known. So how can we know where we’re going, if we don’t even know where we’ve been?

     
  • hardie karges 11:42 am on January 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: arrogance, , freedom, , , Paradise, paradox,   

    Paradox in Paradise, the Buddha’s Suffering as Our Own… 

    Life is sometimes too easy. Without struggle there is no need for kindness. Thus we confront a Buddhist paradox, every day, in a world at least partly defined by its suffering, and the need to mitigate that suffering, so that we can survive, without falling into the trap of false flattery and the lure of luxury. Because if the suffering is a matter of opinion and the appropriate means of measure, the imperfection is rife. There may be a perfect world somewhere, of which this is but a poor manifestation, admittedly, but not this reflected world itself, which at times resembles a cheap carnival sideshow. But this is the only world that we truly experience on an ordinary day, so this is the hand we play. And that is okay. If this material world is all we ever know, then so be it. And let the imperfections speak for themselves. Because every imperfection is an opportunity for improvement, in life as in genetics, in which natural mutations provide the raw material for evolution. So if nothing ever changes, then there’s no chance for it to get better, and perfection is just hubris, the arrogance of species, this human species, full of itself and full of its self-importance, which is only partially justified. The human species IS important, but not always for the reasons that we think. It is not important because it is ABOVE the rest of the animal kingdom. It is important, because it is OF the rest of the animal kingdom, in an unbroken chain of Becoming, of which we humans are probably on top, that is true, but which is no reason for celebration, and certainly no reason for arrogance, for we were once only poor struggling mammals, looking for strength and succor. Thus the flip-side of freedom is always responsibility, and that is our lot in life. Always treat people better than they treat you, and the world becomes a nicer place…

     
  • hardie karges 3:10 am on November 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , freedom,   

    Life as a Singularity, and the Vicissitudes of Intent… 

    You can have family. You can have friends. You can have money. You can have plans. But U R still alone. And that’s not so bad. After all, that should be the most obvious thing in life, now, shouldn’t it? That here you are, amidst a sea of anonymity, and that it is futile to seek unanimity. But the reality is just the opposite, that once a child is torn from its mother’s breast, that the existential longing for inclusion begins, the desire for warmth and succor, all for free, all for the taking, with no effort involved and with no questions asked. But this is a boy’s dream, because the mother must make many orders of effort, and every drop of life’s rich milky nutrient comes with the price tag of commitment, paid in the currency of consumption, by installments, with no other credit plans available. And so a baby cries, right on cue, when it doesn’t get what it wants, and the existential dilemmas begin: What do I have to do to get that feeling of warmth and succor that felt so good for that one brief moment, way back when way back where in that crib of communion, before the terror of aloneness set in? Because nobody felt good on arrival, virtually DOA, we all came into this world kicking and screaming, and looking for something we don’t have–NOW! And such is life, the constant searching and craving for something other, in order to make oneself whole again. So it’s a logical conundrum, a teleological surd, a square peg in a round hole, or vice versa, mutatis mutandis, such that no one is allowed any peace for pensivity, without the arduous addition of intent. Intent is the human master stroke, assembly not required, just an act of the will and the acceptance of consequences. And no one can help with that, because mother is long gone now and there is no other except the one that you create within yourself in her image and likeness, if that helps the transition. And now you are free. And I am free. So light a candle for the Buddha. I accept my own limitations. I reject those placed upon me by others…

     
  • hardie karges 9:15 am on May 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , freedom, , nidana, upadana   

    Buddhism, Attachment, Life and Freedom… 

    To be connected but not attached is the trick, ties that bind loosely. And this is a tricky spot for Buddhism, particularly with regard to the doctrine of Dependent Arising (or Origination) which provides a systematic formulation of the notion that, for lack of a better quick saying, “we are all connected.” But the ninth ‘link’ (nidana) of that system specifically forbids attachment (upadana) to such phenomena as ‘sensual pleasures, mistaken views, external forms, material pleasure/comfort, routines, persons, appearances, ego and…an individual self.’ (buddhajourney.net) Yeow, that’s a heavy load of attachment to avoid! But that tricky spot is also a sweet spot, because what is important is not checking off all the boxes of non-attachment, as if they were things, but to have goals and directions, arrows and road maps to show us a path where such things are easy to talk about, but not so easy to follow. Life is a balancing act, between attachment and freedom, abundance and lack, safety and risk, certainty and chance…

     
  • hardie karges 7:56 am on February 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , freedom, noise   

    The True Cost of Freedom: Eternal Noise and a Death Wish… 

    Noise should be illegal, or at least expensive, charged by the decibel at ever-increasing rates. And this is the true crime of the 21st century, in the latter days of capitalism and consumerism, that not only is there no place to hide, but there is no peace and quiet, either. We go inside and turn on the a/c just to escape the noise at night. How else can you get any sleep on one of the frontage-road motels that line the highways of modern America, that line the stress-filled moments of our minds? Still many people thrive on noise like music to their souls, the more the better, like cheap wine, just to get a buzz, when a buzz is really the last thing we need, since we are far too buzzed already. But the sky is the limit, and people want to get even higher, at the risk of crashing headlong into oblivion. Truly free people know their limits; silly fools think there are none…

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel