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  • hardie karges 9:29 am on November 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Good Karma: the Gift that Keeps on Giving… 

    Good karma occurs every day that you make a donation and someone benefits from it besides yourself. If you benefit from a gift, then there is another word for that: business, transaction, you name it. But the word ‘karma’ itself means ‘action,’ and so we Westerners have our own version of this admonition: ‘Actions speak louder than words,’ and so they do. But the word generally has a negative connotation, i.e. ‘bad karma,’ or something like cruel fate. So, what we want, then, is good karma, which necessitates good actions, and which has a connotation similar to ‘good luck.’

    For me, I’ve detected at least two different extant forms of karma as practiced in Buddhism, probably best exemplified by the Tibetan and Theravada forms, but which I tend to think of as ‘heavy’ and ‘lite,’ in order to avoid strict definitions and casual dismissals. Because I respect all forms of Buddhism, even if I personally prefer a mix of the original Theravada and the most recent secular, so something like the original ascetic discipline combined with the latest scientific knowledge, anything but silly superstition.

    The heavy karma version, best exemplified by Tibetan Buddhism, follows you around like some entity counting your transgressions, ready to give your performance a score which will determine whether you escape the wheels of samsara and rebirth to find a place in some better world, or whether you will ultimately be reborn to go another round in this hellscape. Now I won’t go into the ironies of the differing Eastern and Western approaches to Heaven and Hell. Suffice it to say that for me, this is beyond the bounds of science, so holds little sway in my life choices.   

    For me the important thing is to give, of your (non) self, your time, and of course: your money, because this is nothing if not a green imperfect world, far in concept from the perfect world of pure white light, as we imagine it. And if that seems like making a deal with the devil, then so be it. At least it’s a devil we know. But time is of the essence. To wait until the ‘time is right’ is often to miss the point entirely: time is an imperfect dimension, as are they all, and the human dimension especially so. We’re afflicted with disease, old age, poverty, and death, but these are conditions which can be mitigated. Give. It’s good karma.

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  • hardie karges 12:06 pm on November 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Buddhism and Survival of the Species 

    Buddhism is more than just a religion or philosophy. It is a method for planetary survival, and that’s why we’re here right now. Because I care about planetary survival, and I hope that you do, too. And by ‘planet,’ I specifically mean the human race, since I have no doubt that the rock itself can continue to provide for itself, regardless of whether humans had ever shown up to sully the mix. But we are like DNA, and DNA is like language, and so we must cross our T’s and dot our I’s and make sense of random mutations.

    As soon as our survival was assured, we humans set about killing each other. And the coincidence of this with the invention of language may have not been so coincidental at all. Thus, once adopted, language has somehow become intrinsic to our existence, and so it is necessary to make our peace with it. Buddhism is famous for meditation, of course, and so that is one way of dealing with language, by losing it—powerful. Because for all the rap about insight, mindfulness, and ‘calm abiding,’ the one thing common to all meditation is silence. Guided meditation is something else.

    Christianity was fine when the human race was still young, and the need to breed was still arguably extant. But with eight billion people (and counting), the passion of Christ has long since been replaced by the passion of mice, breeding like rabbits and eating like wolves. This is not what the world needs right now. We’re a successful species, unless we continue to kill ourselves. I don’t think a species has ever gone extinct by mass suicide. But we could become the first, regardless of stated intents. Buddhism is one way to resolve this issue favorably, by choosing inner peace over mass consumption…

     
  • hardie karges 12:05 pm on October 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Hardie Karges, , , , , Right Thought, Samma sankapppa   

    The Role of Thought in Buddhism… 

    The Buddha never taught or recommended No Thought, an idea popular in some Buddhist and all ‘non-dualistic’ groups, which should be labeled ‘non-pluralistic,’ btw, just saying. The Buddha taught Right Thought, samma samkappa. But don’t thoughts sometimes just pop up? Yes, they do. the issue here is not one of ownership, though, but the true nature of thoughts and feelings. For some reason, we tend to trust our feelings, but reserve much suspicion toward our thoughts. But are they any different, really?

    So, maybe they are as different as heart and head, but is that any different, either, really? Because those bodily locations have only been known since recently, but the concept of Mind, as citta, has been known since almost forever, and certainly since the time of Buddha. Indeed, during the Buddha’s time, and even later, there was considerable debate in Greece, and possibly India, over the location of the origin of thought, such that Plato placed it at or in the brain, while his student Aristotle placed it firmly in the heart.

    And if it seems obvious that the source of all sensations originating in the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth could only logically be mixed and matched somewhere nearby such as the gray matter that constitutes a brain, then it is equally plausible that the center could be where the pathways of the blood start and finish, itself perhaps the mechanism for mixing and matching those sensations into more complex feelings and thoughts. Modern neuroscience has come a long way since then, of course, but still we ‘listen to our hearts,’ even if we prefer to ‘use our brains’ for the heavy lifting, intellect being generally considered superior to intuition.  

    That distinction is sometimes used to differentiate men and women, to generally ill effect, but the fact remains that the two activities are intertwined. But to imagine that thoughts have no proper human origin nor intention, per the ‘non-dualist’ screed, is absurd and counterproductive, and for what purpose it is not clear. Even if Buddhism is technically non-dualist, in the sense that ‘we are one with everything’ like the joke about the monk ordering hot dogs, the modern ‘non-dualists’ go much too far in asserting that we are therefore nothing. That may pay well in the online debates, but it’s not what the Buddha said, and that is my only concern. Think good thoughts.

     
  • hardie karges 2:31 pm on October 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Buddhism and McMindfulness… 

    There is nothing mystical about meditation. It is a practical and helpful tool for self-improvement. It gets the woo-woo treatment big time, though, from the wannabe pandits and acharyas matching it up with ‘mindfulness’ and ‘lovingkindness’ for the big Buddhist-Christian one-two punch guaranteed to put McMindfulness in your sacred space and muesli in you breakfast nook. Did someone mention the New Age and/or Wellness communities?

    Because that’s what Buddhism is, of course, to the average American and/or Western European, one of a dozen or two systems (dare I say ‘disciplines?) on tap to inspire you to the next level of awareness, sati, which is precisely the same word so often translated as ‘mindfulness’ for its salutary effect on the brain’s language centers. And at the same time, it also guarantees a course to be taught somewhere in the cool part of town, thereby guaranteeing the acceptance and continuance of such a tradition regardless of its intrinsic connection to Buddhism—or not.

    Because, in the debate over just how much of Buddhism can be downloaded to the surrounding community without concern over cultural appropriation or misappropriation of intent and purpose, meditation is the one thing that definitely CAN be offloaded for the layman’s typical—even commercial—applications. Like yoga for Hindus, meditation is the one aspect of Buddhism which is truly universal, and which does NOT require a secret handshake. You simply follow certain techniques for certain effects.

    The names can be confusing and causes and effects can be conflated and even reversed, such that one technique is called by its desired effect, but the techniques are generally similar, just sit down, STFU, and concentrate—on not much, either some one thing internally or the whole broad spectrum externally. Some techniques uses mantras, as made famous by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation™ (pun intended), but many Theravada Buddhists simply repeat the name “Buddho, Buddho, Buddho.”

    As Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan character often said: “Stop the internal dialogue.” When that happens, then you have returned to proto-consciousness and thereby recover something which you had lost with language, sati and samadhi, awareness and concentration (one-pointedness). In the process, then, you will hopefully receive samatha, calmness, or vipassana, insight, but the technique is similar. What you do with it is up to you. Being nice to people is always a good place to start.

     
    • SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ 4:42 pm on November 5, 2022 Permalink | Reply

      Dear Hardie Karges,

      Your post entitled “Buddhism and McMindfulness…” is very enjoyable to read and definitely timely and topical. Thank you very much. I concur with you about the issues regarding McDonaldization and appropriation.

      I would like to inform you that one of my latest posts can be of considerable interest to you, for I have distilled a great deal of observations and conclusions along similar themes. It concerns being present in the moment with awareness and (engaged) mindfulness. This highly engaging and expansive post is entitled “🔄📈📉 Change Rules and Moment Matters: How to Stay in the Moment 🔖🕰️🔂“, published at

      https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2022/08/19/change-rules-and-moment-matters-how-to-stay-in-the-moment/

      The said post opens with this paragraph:

      A spiritual outlook with a minimalist perspective on life that is conducive to happiness is often predicated on living in the present moment through mindful awareness emancipated from the vagaries of the subconscious and the itinerants of the mind.

      This post discusses mindfulness, meditation, spirituality, religion, Nature and so on. I welcome your input since I am curious to know what you make of my said post as well as your perspectives on those matters discussed in my post. I look forward to savouring your feedback there!

      There are many quotations distributed throughout the post. The quotees include Buddha, Thích Nhất Hạnh, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Werner Hans Erhard, Jack Kornfield and Elizabeth Thornton.

      Thank you once again for your pertinent and cogently written post.

      Wishing you a mindful and suitably productive November doing or enjoying whatever that satisfies you the most, both intellectually and spiritually!

      Yours sincerely,
      SoundEagle

      • hardie karges 11:52 am on November 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for your comments. Sorry to get back to you so slowly, but I’ve been traveling (and my laptop is dying). I’ll try to take a closer look at this now. Thanks!

        • SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ 4:23 pm on November 13, 2022 Permalink

          Dear Hardie Karges,

          You are welcome. The 13th of November is World Kindness Day! Wishing you a productive November and a wonderful week doing or enjoying whatever that satisfies you the most, whether intellectually, artistically, physically, spiritually or emotionally!

          I look forward to your submitting a comment to my said post as a token of your visit.

          Yours sincerely,
          SoundEagle

  • hardie karges 4:09 pm on September 25, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Hardie Karges, Japan, , , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism and the Dialectic of Deliverance… 

    Buddhism needs no fancy metaphysics nor linguistics, multiple hells nor forty-two flavors of emptiness. Kindness and compassion are enough, metta and karuna and all that jazz. Which is one of the singular beauties of the faith, of course, that almost nothing is required up front, but some goodwill and a policy of non-aggression, ahimsa, such that oftentimes simply doing nothing, absolutely nothing, is the preferred path to advancement, simply because all other options are of lesser benefit.

    Some sects of Buddhism prefer a more elaborate presentation of gods and goddesses, but this is entirely optional and the historical Buddha himself had none of it. In fact, I’m not sure that the historical Buddha would even recognize Tibetan Vajrayana, or Japanese Zen, as something of his own inspiration. But such is the evolution of culture and language, so that a random mutation can be almost guaranteed to occur every eighty years or so, just like the DNA from which we all descend.

    But that doesn’t mean that Tibetan and Japanese Buddhists have nothing in common. They do. It’s just that these two almost-opposite branches of Buddhism are poised like the horns of a dilemma to offer themselves up as starting points for the next phase of dialectical Buddhism. So, given the superstitious and elaborate nature of Vajrayana and the sparse linguistic and meditation-oriented nature of Zen, what would be the next logical step for Buddhism to advance, at least in the West, that great field of dreams left to conquer?

    It just might be the original Theravadin style, with or without the religious trappings, so a more secular but traditional Buddhism, for lack of better terminology. And this is the current situation in the West, where those two extremes have found highest favor with the freedom-loving West, while the more disciplined original approach has found little favor—until now. Because the current acceptance of secular Buddhism goes back to the Early Buddhist roots in many important ways, but without karma, rebirth and past lives. The only question is how all of this will play out I the long run. My fingers are crossed. We are in need of some new synthesis to advance forward…

     
  • hardie karges 9:13 am on September 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Buddhism and the Nature of Self/Not-Self… 

    The notion of self is a linguistic convenience. But language is not reality. And this is one of the debates in Buddhism, of course, not so much the exact nature of ‘self,’ which is proscribed in Buddhism (with an ‘o,’ not ‘e’), but more the exact nature of ‘not-self,’ or ‘no-self,’ that distinction itself often at the crux of the debate, as if there were any real difference, as if it really mattered. Because what matters is that this is not the Hindu cosmic self nor the Christian eternal self, both of which are not what the Buddha envisioned for his group of followers and his emerging view of the world.

    But what exactly did he envision for the self? Not much, apparently. Best guesses are the (s)khandhas, or ‘heaps’ of causes and conditions that he enumerated to constitute the typical person sans persona that is typically referred to, though many modern Buddhists like to wax long and hard on the ego and ensuing egolessness that would obviously result from that starting point. But our concept of ‘ego’ is so tied to Freud’s concept of id, ego, and superego that it may be misleading. Because I’m sure that the Buddha had no such wild notions.

    The Freudian ego also makes the same mistake that the Buddha was trying to solve, positing self as a thing, or something, anyway, which is an independent actor on an ever-shifting stage, when the actions themselves were much more important, as modern psychology now acknowledges the behavior, rather than some elaborate tripartite self, so like verbs not nouns. The Buddha might even go a step farther and see the composite self as a collection of adjectives, thus tendencies to act, not even dignified by the actions themselves.

    I’m sure that he had our modern notion of selfishness in mind, though, so we have that much in common, what with his obsessions with craving and desire. And that’s where Buddhism has much to say about our modern consumeristic economies and lifestyles to the point that ‘stuff’ becomes the meaning of our lives. This is a trap, of course, and a never-ending cycle of unfulfillment. After all, how can things satisfy us if we ourselves are essentially non-things? Sometimes the world is too much with us. Even the Buddha and Wordsworth could agree on that. The Buddha called it samsara….

     
  • hardie karges 1:03 pm on August 28, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , Hardie Karges, Three Marks of Existence   

    Buddhism 202: Happiness Sandwiches, with Something in the Middle… 

    If you’re looking for bliss, then you may be disappointed. Happiness for me is the reduction, and hopefully cessation, of suffering. Anything else is icing on the cake. Count your blessings. In other words, bliss is optional and perhaps not even desirable. After all, when your psychological pendulum swings too far in one direction, isn’t it bound to swing back to the other with equal force? It’s very likely. And isn’t bliss an extreme emotion to begin with, tongue flagging and tail wagging, like a dog with a fresh bone, until it’s suddenly all gone?

    And that’s the problem, isn’t it, that extremes usually never cease rebounding in search of their opposites, in ever-widening arcs, never satisfied and never at rest?  It certainly seems that way, the curse of consciousness, chasing its own tail in a race to the finish. When we’re hot, we want cold. When we’re cold we want warmth. At what point do we get to enjoy our happiness? There’s no time like the present of course, and anything else is probably BS.

    And this goes right to the heart of Buddhism, the middle path, but not necessarily The Middle Path, between luxury and lack, or Existence and Non-existence, but any middle path, between any two sets of opposites, for which the middle is almost always the best option, that notion of balance and equilibrium always desirable, even if the word ‘compromise’ doesn’t suit you, with the notion that maybe it’s a cop-out. It’s not.

    It suits me just fine, and I think it should probably be enshrined as an important addendum to the main body of Buddhism, which includes the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold path, and the Three Marks of Existence, especially non-self anatta. Then there’s ahimsa, non-violence, though not necessarily non-action. That sounds like the perfect balance between violence and passivity. So, this notion of balance, little brother to the Middle Path, works almost every time, and should get the attention and credit that it deserves. Try it. You’ll probably like it.

     
  • hardie karges 8:33 am on July 31, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Hardie Karges, , Magi, magic, , ,   

    Buddhism 498: Emptiness is the Path to Infinity 

    If you’re doing it right, then one day a sense of calmness will come over you, as the zeroes take over, and the fractions become less, a mind divided unable to reproduce itself properly, and the ensuing life even less. Because language knows no natural limit, and so will run on until stopped, vowels and consonants forming verbs and nouns like chickens and eggs, and no one knows which came first, since no one was taking notes in a class too crowded for convenience and too full for breath…

    But people wonder why meditate, since there’s so little time and so little space, that to waste any extra must certainly be counter-intuitive, but, in reality, the exact opposite is the case. Because meditation creates more time and more space in the process of killing it, such that if you really want to experience infinity, then the only way to do that is with emptiness.

    Because infinity cannot exist full of stuff, and that is fundamental to the concept, and who would want it anyway, except a kid at Christmas before the sun’s even up, learning the false lesson of abundance under the magic of the Magi, who got lost on the way to Bethlehem, but couldn’t see any reason to let a good story go to waste? So, a kid in a manger becomes the unlikely savior of humanity, when all we really wanted was a full belly and an empty mind, empty of hate and anger, with Big Ideas optional.

    But we can do that on command with a little silence and a lot of discipline, let the confusion die down and out, and be reborn in spirit every hour of every day with a little self-control and a lot of kindness, creating a world of forgiveness and reconciliation, instead of aggression and competition, for access to scarce resources, to create even more, when the obvious answer is to first consume even less. And that is the difference between Buddhism and Christianity, to consume less or produce more, when the truth lies somewhere in between.

     
  • hardie karges 10:25 am on July 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brahmanists, , , , Hardie Karges, , , ,   

    Buddhism is a World of Feeling, Thoughts Optional 

    Be kind to humans and other sentient beings, even when they are obnoxious, egotistic, pompous, and overbearing. And this is a tough row to hoe in the age of social media, I know, but that makes it even more important, doesn’t it? I think so. Because the pressure in this social media age for anyone who wants to be an ‘influencer,’ is to crack wise first, and smooth hard feelings later, if ever. But that’s not the correct order of things, I don’t think, not these days or ever.

    Because we are all ‘influencers,’ to some extent or other, but if we’re all sticking our egos in everyone’s faces all the time, then who is left to bear witness? So, we all have a stake in this game, regardless of whether we’re professional or not, because those lines are becoming blurred—at best. This is nothing if not a world of feeling, and I think that’s how Buddhism best makes sense. Because there was no world of reason back then, much less science, even if the Buddha was aware of the power of reason and tried to incorporate it into his practice.

    But reason at its best requires inscrutable logic, and the Indian tetralemma, in Greek, or catuhskoti, in Sanskrit, was far from perfect, and violated the Law of the Excluded Middle of Aristotelian logic, more familiar to our Western thought. But the Indian choices of ‘This,’ ‘That,’ ‘All of the above’ or ‘None of the above’ might ironically have led to the Buddha’s famous Middle Path, which Greek logic only approached with a roundabout dialectical synthesis that came much later.

    There’s more to life than logic, though, of course, and a close examination shows a classical Indian world-view heavily based on feeling and introspection, the deeper the better for the really big questions. That’s the world that the Buddha was raised in, and that was his method by trade, as prophet to the ages. When in doubt, think it out. Though many modern non-dualists may deny that the Buddha ever really intended anything, much less own his thoughts, I think it’s safe to say that he certainly did.

    If the Buddha’s thoughts had had no thinker, then I doubt we’d have Four Noble Truths and twice that number of folds and twists to our middle path of salvation, as defined by the cessation of suffering, at least partially, if never quite total. In every case, too, it’s a world of feeling and perception that is described, defined by name and form, and articulated by consciousness. The Brahmins and Brahmanists saw a world of Cosmic self in union with Brahma. The Buddha begged to differ. That’s the world he lived in, and that’s the world that he bequeathed to us.

     
  • hardie karges 11:44 am on July 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Buddhism 101: Anger is a Warning Sign of Impending Danger… 

    Anger is like a lying dog, that, when provoked, rises up in consciousness, and strikes the nearest hand that most recently fed it. Because it’s blind, and usually vicious, hatefulness optional, and it infects everything it touches, anger does. But it’s not always so easy to recognize, because it comes in many forms, most often in concert with hatred, true, but equally conversant with deception and denigration and the other delusions of sense perception, always a prime source of suffering, no matter the particular place and time in question…

    And then there is the other ‘poison’ of Buddhism, besides hatred and delusion, which is greed, or sensual desire, with which anger is also often associated. But sometimes the symptom is worse than the disease, and this could often be one of those cases, in which the anger is worse than the moha, raga, or dvesha itself. These are also variously known as the Three Unwholesome Roots and the Three Kileshas, which are also available in a convenient Five-Pack for serious abusers, but who’s counting?

    Still, it all counts as demerit in a lifestyle that prides itself on making merit, and doing good, and so worth making a sea change in order to avoid the choppy waves, right? But that gets into issues of global warming and rising sea levels, when simply wearing a life jacket and learning how to swim might accomplish much the same thing in a much shorter amount of time. Why get a brain operation if a pill can cure the headache? That’s what I want to know.

    Hatred, delusion, and greedy attachments can take a lifetime to cease, overcome, or even diminish, much less cure, though, so in the meantime please do us all a favor and control your anger, okay? It becomes you. And there are many American Buddhist ‘teachers’ who might disagree with that, but they may not be so smart, after all, since they often look to Freud and Jung, rather than Buddha, for inspiration, as if the notion of superego were somehow scientific and Freud’s ego were what the Buddha was really talking about in denouncing the Brahmanistic cosmic atta/atman. It wasn’t. So, let go of all anger, the sooner the better. It sucks.

     
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