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  • hardie karges 12:07 pm on June 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , change, , , impermanence, , 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 11:35 am on March 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Corona, impermanence, , , ,   

    Buddhism in Viral Times, Reflections from Coronas… 

    Live every moment as if it might be your last, in quiet peaceful reflection, like water. And if this virus has anything to teach us, which I believe it does, then this is certainly one of them, that panic is counter-productive, just as superficial excitement is ephemeral and fleeting, transient by nature. That concept gets a bum rap from social conventions, of course, in Buddha’s time, as well as our own, that anything temporary is by definition flawed and conducive to suffering. The implication, quite naturally, is that permanence is the desired state and condition of nature, and by extension—matter. Extensions fall flat, though, because that would be something like a false equivalency, when the truth lies in the very nature of our medium of discourse. Communication by language does not create castles in the countryside, but only in the sand. Everything is subject to its limits. Just as the painted picture creates fine lines and eye candy, and song produces sweet sounds and ear candy, language is limited to just that, great thoughts and mind candy, but not reality. We can create our reality to some extent, true, especially if that reality is kindness and compassion, but we can’t create the universal laws of physics, except in that they are a representation of nature, as universally perceived. And it is our task to find our place in that nature, but not to control it, for our own selfish benefits. Because this is false permanence, the permanence of possession and ownership, when that is beyond our capabilities, as transient tenants upon this semi-solid rock in motion around a flaming solar orb, ten thousand light-years from home, and another ten from our destination. In order to get the right answers to the questions of our lives, then we must ask the right questions. Religion should not be a matter of blind faith and fear. It should be a matter of knowledge, freedom and self-control…

  • hardie karges 11:56 am on March 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , impermanence,   

    Buddhism and the Certainty of Uncertainty… 

    The satisfaction of certainty is a precious commodity, but that’s the price of religion, because it’s all about the bottom line—absolute conviction in an uncertain world, something you can rely upon, something you can build your life on, and build your home, and build your family and build your dreams. And there’s the rub of reality, because you’re going against the empirical facts, from the very get-go, facts which indicate that the truest certainty is uncertainty itself, as evidenced by Heraclitus in Greece way back when, and the Buddha in India at more or less the same time, they separated by a few thousand miles, and even more kilometers, but only a thousand years or so from a common source on the high plains above the Caucasus, just waiting for a shot at the big-time in the big tent, where the people will line up to see and hear the latest news from the mouths of wise men and philosophers, they mental visionaries creating problems that only they can solve, by the machinations of language, in a mental landscape now dependent upon such. Now what a pre-linguistic world was truly like can only be surmised, but it surely did exist, as surely as the computers we all worship once begged for language to give themselves a meaning which now is almost superior to our own, as if by magic in a pre-determined world of prescribed actions. But the difference between the Greeks and the Indians was that even then Heraclitus embraced the change (after much debate by various and sundry philosophers), while the Buddha and his followers saw it as the foundational principle of anicca, impermanence, one of the three intrinsic causes of dukkha, suffering. So certainty itself was and is a conundrum, something once articulated as if to vex us, and now hex us, bedevil us with its dual nature, both terrible and terrific, enough to send us into spasms of indecision and indecisiveness. But the die was cast even then, that east was east and west was west, no matter that we all come from the same place and the same fathers, that that somewhere was all in our minds and that many wars would have to be fought in order to reach a conclusion, or not. Because the resolution was already there in the same place as the conflict—in mind, in thought, in consciousness, now language-based, for better or worse, because there is no returning to the source of mind, proto-consciousness, or paleo-consciousness, except in meditation. Fortunately there ae some things which we can almost all agree on, besides uncertainty and impermanence: kindness, compassion, and the universal brotherhood of human beings. Thus the problem which begins in mind can be solved in mind, and so wars are useless. There are no winners in war, only losers…

    • Dave Kingsbury 4:12 pm on March 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      This struck a chord, particularly – “now language-based, for better or worse, because there is no returning to the source of mind, proto-consciousness, or paleo-consciousness, except in meditation” – suggests a role for literary art in expanding consciousness, if evolution is now cultural …

    • hardie karges 6:51 pm on March 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, I definitely think there is a huge role for language, only fitting since that is much of the problem, that once we create language, that we are now prisoners to it in thought. But if language could achieve artistically what painting has done, for example, then that would be a whole new ballgame…

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