Tagged: Greece Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • hardie karges 8:30 am on August 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Greece, , , , logos, Persia,   

    Was Heraclitus the Original Buddhist? 

    Was Heraclitus the Original Buddhist? If not, he certainly missed a good opportunity, because it was he who once said: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river, and he’s not the same man.” And a clearer and more succinct articulation of the Buddhist principles of anatta and anicca have never been spoken, the former best defined as ‘non-self’ or ‘no self,’ particularly in the sense of a permanent eternal soul like that of the contemporaneous Brahmanic religion, or Hinduism, as we now know it. But of course Heraclitus was not a Buddhist, per se, but a philosopher of change, and maybe best known for his other famous quote: “The only thing permanent is change.”

    And so he tackles two major Buddhist themes—self and change—with no knowledge of the Buddha himself, apparently, though the possibilities are there. I’ve written often about the genetic and cultural connections between the Greek and Indian philosophers, so I won’t do that now, but it’s interesting that not only do they share significant genetic ancestry, but are contemporaneous in the case of Heraclitus, who lived almost exactly the same time as the Buddha. Add to that the fact that he and the other Ionian philosophers were technically part of the Persian Empire, which spanned the entirety of the 2000mi/3000km between the Greek and Indian mainlands, so it’s tempting to speculate.

    Maybe they had Twitter pigeons? Ha! But the main difference is that the Buddha saw change as a cause of suffering, second only to craving, and Heraclitus did not. For him it was simply a fact of life, like fire, for him the basic ‘stuff’ of existence, as with the Vedic ‘acharyas’ and ‘pandits.’ ‘Basic stuff’ was the obsession of all pre-Socratic philosophers, many of them Ionian, the original word that meant ‘Greek’ in most Asian languages. His logos was also very dharma-like, and Buddhist dharma, in particular, is not fixed, but flexible enough to adapt to a variety of circumstances over time and over space.

    Whether the Buddha intended it that way or not is debatable, but if he considers change a source of suffering, then it is doubtful. That’s just the way it is, and thus proof of the reality, if not the suffering. The suffering is yours—or not. I remember crying when my family moved from the city to the countryside when I was eight years old. Now I seek out new countries all the time, 155 and counting. So, it is not a source of suffering for me, obviously. Thus, the Buddha may have made the mistake of over-generalizing. He was only human, after all. The transcendent Buddha came later. That’s Mahayana: Zen and all that jazz. Craving is still the main cause of suffering, that and attachment to self, as ego. That’s the other aspect of self to be avoided, however impermanent, always doomed to fail.

  • hardie karges 10:44 am on August 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alexander the Great, , , , , Greece, Hindi, , , , , , , , , , shaman, , , , , Yaqui   

    Buddhist Metta-tation, Friendship Beyond Thought, Language Optional… 

    The truest love is metta, friendship, without all the burdens of possession. That’s Buddhist love, of course, without all the weeping, wailing, and the gnashing of teeth. The Pali word metta often gets written up as ‘lovingkindness’ by latter-day Buddhists, mostly American, who want the passion that term implies, but the Buddha likely intended nothing of the sort. That’s a Christian term, too, from the Hebrew chesed, with a heavy dose of devotion implied, but the Buddha seemed to intend none of that, and the word’s presence in many other Asian languages of the time reflects none of it, either.

    So ‘lovingkindness’ would seem to come from a totally different line of descent by genome. Culture is not genome, though, of course, though they often parallel one another, and the ‘Judeo-Christian’ tradition seems to reflect that. So, we Westerners tend to be emotion junkies, even when that emotion is not necessarily a pleasant one. We are implored to embrace suffering, by that logic, even though suffering implies pain, and the heavy dose of sadness that often brings. The fact that the Pali word dukkha means ‘suffering’ and the related word dukhee means ‘sadness’ in modern Hindi would seem to reflect that range of intent.

    (More …)
  • hardie karges 12:07 pm on June 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Greece, , , , sankhara   

    Buddhist Impermanence and Greek Change, flip sides of the same coin… 

    Change doesn’t have to be a cause of suffering. It can also be a cause of liberation, if it’s compassionate, kind and helpful. And if that deviates from the standard Buddhist line of progression, then I’m sorry, but I think it holds true, at least for the modern day, with our modern ways. I personally haven’t shed too many tears over coming changes in a long time, but maybe that’s just a part of growing up, not sure, so maybe I better re-listen to Bruce Springsteen, since he sometimes gets it right, even if the Buddha didn’t. Now I embrace change, but true, it’s certainly better if it’s a change I initiate, so maybe that is the crucial line of distinction.

    So when the Buddha is quoted as saying ‘sabbe sankhara anicca,’ i.e. all things are impermanent, the implication is that that is bad, but maybe that is a faulty conclusion. It is one of the three Buddhist marks of existence, after all, along with suffering and no-self, but that doesn’t necessarily indicate ‘badness’, so maybe it’s just a fact for your perusal, echoing Heraclitus some 3000mi/5000km away (as the crow flies) in Greece right about the same. Coincidence? Ask that crow; only he knows for sure, and he might be fibbing. The fact that both likely had ancestors from the same ‘hood up north 2000 years before is likely irrelevant at this point, so I won’t mention it.

    Bottom line: everything changes but change itself, and if that scares you to death as a child about to move to a new town, or a young adult about to experience Love’s first great letdown, then rest assured: not only does this get easier, but you might even learn to like it, and seek it out, the other, if not another, geographical changes generally considered more socially acceptable than personnel changes, especially after a certain ‘use-by’ date, after which the changes become functionally impractical, and old dogs find it hard to learn new tricks.

    But learn they can, if the will is there, and who knows what ‘sankhara’ means anyway? (It does NOT mean ‘karma’ as modern ‘re-birthers’ like to suggest) I say ‘things’ as shorthand for ‘I don’t know,’ but the devil may indeed lie in the details, if ‘formations’ implies that it is my own fault if they change against my wishes, since I set myself up for that fall in advance. Because he never said that everything changes, but that all ‘formations’ are impermanent, and that is not necessarily the same thing, if ‘formations’ can exist or not exist without necessarily undergoing any intermediate state from one existence to another.

    But our lives necessarily proceed from one point to the next as if we had moved from one point to the next, not simply ceased to exist at one point and re-emerged at another. And so we measure our lives in time. And we mark our journeys in space. And we formulate emotions in reaction to it all. And we develop theories to explain it. So don’t become discouraged if the journey is long. All paths eventually lead home…

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

    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…

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