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  • hardie karges 7:36 am on July 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ISLAM, , ,   

    Buddhism: Religion or Philosophy? 

    Many wars are fought in the name of religion. Very few are fought in the name of philosophy (Yes, I know there’s Communism and Capitalism and Democracy, etc., but I still maintain that the numbers are less). And this is an important distinction, especially with regards to Buddhism, which is essentially an open doctrine, and so has taken on many different forms, depending on the prior belief systems, and the general lay of the land, genetic predisposition, and special needs.

    It should be no surprise, though, that what any one people need is often far from what they think they want, indeed often the opposite, so this is a decision sometimes best left to high priests and palace intellectuals, who can see beyond the crass cravings and narrow proclivities of the mass populace and serve them the medicine they deserve, rather than the sweet nothings they crave.

    So violent Europeans get a religion of peace and love, sex-obsessed Arabs get a veil and no lipstick, while Asians obsessed with possessions and prestige get religions of renunciation. But they all get future options, one way or another, whether it’s eternal life, rebirth, or six dozen virgins all waiting with bated breath. In the case of Buddhism, though, it isn’t supposed to be that way.

    The stated goal is nirvana, often described as escape from the ‘wheel of rebirth.’ In other words, we Buddhists should be working to liberate ourselves from this realm of suffering, which is usually best mitigated, and seldom for celebration, and certainly not for clinging to. This is why many Christians criticize Buddhism as ‘life-denying’, in sharp contrast to their version of Christianity, touted as ‘life-affirming.’ This distinction and dichotomy can even be further cheapened as one of pessimism vs. optimism.

    But is that really intellectually and spiritually honest for a culture that lives for aggression and competition and whose history is replete with slavery? Or is it more like an emotional see-saw that wastes lives and centuries over the litigation of passions, striving and struggling, and is never truly ‘life-affirming’ except when victorious over the other contenders to power?

    Not so many centuries ago, Christianity, too, was a religion of renunciation, as can be claimed for both Hinduism and Buddhism, with or without a belief in an eternal self or soul. In other words, we are all afraid of death, and the religion—or philosophy—that can answer that basic need will have a leg up on all the rest. So Buddhism attempts the impossible, to have rebirth with no soul, eternal life with no clinging, all with mixed results.

    And agnosticism is often criticized as a non-decision, but intellectually it is probably the only honest way, and thus in that sense, more philosophy than religion. Because religion depends upon divine intervention for spiritual fulfillment, and that is certainly not necessary in Buddhism. Here’s a thought experiment: Would you believe in soul or self if you had never looked in a mirror? Try to imagine what life was like before those long preening sessions gazing upon your reflection became central to your self-perception…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 12:49 pm on July 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      “But they all get future options … In the case of Buddhism, though, it isn’t supposed to be that way.

      I’m sure this is right, though wonder if the promised release of Buddhism in effect makes the future an irrelevance?

      • hardie karges 1:39 pm on July 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        It should be irrelevant, certainly, but old habits die hard, I guess, and I’m not sure why there is a clinging to personality, to be honest. I can understand the fear of death, just like the fear of anything new and uncertain. But if I were to be reborn I’d hope to be someone entirely disconnected from the present incarnation. Honestly a dimension of light sounds quite nice, and that is my definition of heaven…

        • Dave Kingsbury 2:10 pm on July 28, 2020 Permalink

          Sounds good to me, whether or not consciousness persists. As to ‘personality’, hope you forgive this upload of a DH Lawrence poem …

          Trust

          Oh we’ve got to trust
          one another again
          in some essentials.

          Not the narrow little
          bargaining trust
          that says: I’m for you
          if you’ll be for me. –

          But a bigger trust,
          a trust of the sun
          that does not bother
          about moth and rust,
          and we see it shining
          in one another.

    • Alexis Adder 1:25 pm on July 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      The thing I found with American Christians (Not all forms of Christianity) is that it denies death and ignores it. While this sounds harmless, it is in fact dangerous. We have created a culture which sees sex as worse than death and violence. A culture where death is not taken seriously enough and creates sociopathy among the regular population. Where violence is no big deal. But people being born gay, that certainly is!

      In my Shin Buddhism path, one of the things I say to myself everyday is “I am of the nature to die”, “I am of the nature to be ill.”, and “I am of the nature to grow old.”. I accept reality as it is. (I also am a bit morbid and love gothic stuff!) I found the way Buddhism as a whole focuses on death, everything from being eaten by vultures to being mummified, to be much more realistic.

      But because of my Christian indoctrination I used to have the same hang ups about violence and sex. It took me exposing myself to real violence, even if it was on video, to realize just how bad violence is. It made me accept sex more and become more tolerant. And made me appreciate life as it is. This sounds stupid, but it has a lot to do with my cultural programming by Christians from an early age.

    • hardie karges 3:36 pm on July 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, there is no fact more central to life than death, which is proof of the Buddhist recognition of the prevalence of suffering, IMHO. Violence, fortunately, can be mitigated, but death cannot. I don’t accept violence as normal. It’s not. Any two species can coexist peacefully if raised together since birth, and provided adequate food. Thanks for your comments.

    • Norbert 1:01 am on August 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I guess this whole conversation needs a sober reality check, based on solid empirical data instead of wild speculation. For a useful start, see https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2020-08-11/religion-giving-god?utm_medium=newsletters&utm_source=twofa&utm_campaign=Giving%20Up%20on%20God&utm_content=20200821&utm_term=FA%20This%20Week%20-%20112017

      • hardie karges 10:31 am on August 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Good article, especially the parts about reliance on high birthrates, which I feel is necessary to overcome, if there is to be a future. The fact that world population has tripled in my lifetime is not lost on me. i’m not sure if they have fully accounted for the changes that may come with Covid-19, though, especially if it goes on for 2-3 years. There certainly won’t be any normalcy for that length of time, if not longer. It’s fine by me either way, since I need no creator God, and the world is my family. Buddhism is largely an open doctrine, so it can be secular or God-filled, and still work for many adherents. The important thing is for the individual to step back and acknowledge his smallness in the midst of vastness, and act accordingly. Thanks for your comments, Norbert…

    • quotidian2911 3:13 am on September 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Very deep insights!!!! Loved it

      • hardie karges 10:12 am on September 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks!

  • hardie karges 12:50 pm on April 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ISLAM   

    Religion Up for Grabs: Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism… 

    The wise person knows his limits. The foolish person assumes there are none. And this is fundamental, the limits at least as much as the freedoms, to which we are so attached as Westerners, raised on revolution, and carrying flags to prove it, standing our ground, even when that ground is shifting constantly.

    We are attracted to belief systems that reinforce our prejudices, rather than the ones that would teach us something new and different and broaden our horizons beyond that line that separates us from the rest of humanity who we spend our lives dismissing as worthless.

    We are taught to exert ourselves, as if our prejudice must be correct, rather than to embrace something other, which may or may not be, all for the privilege of feeling those same old emotions which always evoke such a rapture of righteousness, when captured within a context of confusion, truth and honesty measured by emotional resonance rather than the logical placement order of propositions.

    But the best religions teach us what we need to know, and practice, not what we know and do already, often to an absurd extent, to the point that it does only harm, no good. Thus future Christians were taught love as remedy for their previous existence as steppes warriors, in the hope that they (we) would cease the racist violence in the hope of a better future.

    And future Muslims were taught to surrender, to God, in the hope that they would lose that chip on the shoulder and be less obsessed with futile victory, and maybe even cease the sexist subjugation, if only the women would hide behind veils.

    And Asians were taught Buddhist non-possession and non-grasping in the hopes that they would quit counting money and start counting time, better spent in contemplation than the great poker game of life. And how is that working out for us all? Has anybody really learned anything? We have to learn that which is hardest, not that which is easiest. I hope that I am wrong about the future of this world. I like being wrong sometimes. When you see a path with heart, you take it. The next revolution will be internal, a revolution of thought…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 4:03 pm on May 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t think you are wrong about the future of the world, Hardie, but there is surely some compensation in knowing why it’s not going well. I think much of the grasping is for a security blanket, something unhappy people seem to need from early on …

      • hardie karges 4:36 pm on May 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, that sounds about right. Thanks for your comments, Dave…

        • Dave Kingsbury 4:46 pm on May 1, 2020 Permalink

          Should have said, your post gives the reasons it’s not going well, I just added a psychological observation. 🙂

  • hardie karges 6:41 am on August 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , ISLAM, , , , , ,   

    Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam 101: Religion on the Rebound, Religion on the Run… 

    img_1893All three major international religions have carried their original premises to ridiculous extremes, along with their adherents, whether cause or effect, those original premises all quite similar, and compatible, variations on the themes of love, righteousness, and perseverance, each with a different focus, Christianity on the love, Islam on the righteousness, and Buddhism on the perseverance…

    And from these humble commendable compatible and civilizing influences, each has gone their own ways, Islam to the extremes of religious fundamentalism, holy wars and unholy alliances; Christianity drenched in sex, drugs, and all that rap; and Buddhist perseverance easily given over to passivity, even in the face of the most egregious assaults on basic human rights, individuals reduced to fit in cages, self-imposed prisons of consciousness… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:15 am on October 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Daesh, , , , ISLAM, , Nietzsche, Sharia   

    Dr. Strange Dharma: How I learned to Love Donald Trump, and ISIL… 

    img_1572

    The Golden Spires of Shwedagon Pagoda

    I’ve been through this all before, you see, like back in May, 2014, when I was returning from Asia via Europe, i.e. Istanbul, specifically so that I could do a side trip to the Iraq border, and make a little incursion into the northern quarter, maybe even go as far as Mosul, if things looked good, and my resources and patience were holding up, something I’d heard you could do, without ever really leaving Turkey, officially, that is, as long as you come back to the same border, and re-enter Turkey, just like nothing ever happened…

    But it seems somebody else had the same idea, a then-little-known organization variously called ISIL, ISIS, IS or Daesh (not Riprock). It seems they were causing a spot of bother there, huffing and puffing and blowing houses down, all in the name of Islam, putting the fun back in fundamentalism, telling people what they want to hear, and then doing what they had always intended to do—invoke Sharia law and rule as an Islamic caliphate… (More …)

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 3:49 pm on October 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Do you think that your car is running well if it accelerates effortlessly while driving you off a cliff? Haha – a pertinent question given our current weird, er, trajectory. You make a convincing case for the value of suffering, however. Let’s hope that cliff launch turns into a learning curve …

    • hardie karges 4:52 pm on October 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I’ll drink to that…

  • hardie karges 6:54 am on October 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Chogyam Trungpa, , , , , , ISLAM, , , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism 301: Do I save myself, or do I save the world? Decisions decisions… 

    img_1893I’m paraphrasing, of course, but this is the question that has plagued—no, let’s say intrigued’—the sangha (Buddhist community) for two and a half millennia, more or less, if not in so many words, then in so many actions, cutting to the chase, and allowing for interpolations and extrapolations, i.e. whether to think big, farming ideas and allowing for fierce and free debate, or to think small, on the achievement of individual ‘liberation’ and the purging of ‘defilements’ from the composite makeshift personalities that we call ‘I’…

    And if that’s an oversimplification, then it’s for a worthy cause, ’cause sharper focus is what’s needed for Buddhism to escape the same fate in the West that it met in India a millennium ago, going down in defeat largely because of its inability to distinguish itself from a resurgent ultra-nationalistic Hinduism and an insurgent Islam, such that Buddhism simply got lost in the shuffle of competing meditative traditions and could no longer count on its fall-back position as the non-Hindu alternative… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 3:11 am on July 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ISLAM, prison   

    Buddhism, Life and Death: Welcome to Prison… 

    img_1341

    Shan ‘Tai Yai’ temple…

    Welcome to prison. Welcome to the farm. Welcome to this life, 3-D, biological, in which you will live an average of seventy-plus years, maybe more maybe less, with time off for good behavior, if lucky, subject to local conditions, and just a few rules. So these bodies will be our home, and this life will be our penitentiary, life at the speed of sound, dreaming of light, and avoiding gravity…

    That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it, though, just that knowing our limits and avoiding extremes is usually the better bargain than seeking them out, by my understanding of Buddhist insight. And yet we do seek them out, don’t we, especially we Americans, with our extreme sports and our extreme prejudices, and our passions and our pride, that usually goeth before a fall? (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 9:52 am on June 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ISLAM, , , philkosophy, ,   

    #Buddhism #Christianity #Islam: All #Religions Work—if you let them… 

    IMG_1559All religions want the same thing—goodness in general, peace brotherhood compassion and mercy in particular. But their prime proponent visionaries—Buddha, Christ and Prophet—each saw different ways of getting there—non-self and non-craving first, love and forgiveness next, and then finally submission and surrender. And all of them can work, if maybe more appropriate for different groups of people at different times in history…

    In 5-600 BC, Buddhism was the perfect message, in a violent greedy war-torn world more or less centered around India, and ready for meditation (and anyone who imagines that the world was calm and peaceful before the advent of religion is tripping). In year 0-100 CE Christianity was spot on target for a world increasingly shifted westward to new fertile ground, the Fertile Crescent, and based on and around Roman power in the Mediterranean, ready for bread and circuses, passion and power… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:20 am on February 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ISLAM   

    Four Noble Truths of Buddhism: and Christianity and… 

    img_0545All good Buddhists know the Four Noble Truths: the prevalence of suffering, the cause of suffering—grasping and craving; the way to avoid suffering—quit grasping and craving; and the details of that path—the Middle Way, or eight-fold path, similar to Christianity’s Ten Commandments. But what if the other great religions were to have four truths of their own? What would they be?

    First let’s generalize. To be consistent with the Buddhist example, four such ‘truths’ should: 1) articulate the prevailing reality; 2) articulate the cause of that reality; 3) articulate a path forward, given that reality, and 4) articulate the details of that path. Okay, so for Christianity, I figure the First Noble truth would be: 1) the prevalence of pleasure, i.e. life is for enjoyment, 2) the cause of that pleasure—acquisition of ‘goods’, experiences, or services; 3) the path forward would be to acquire more goods, experiences, and services; and 4)… (More …)

     
    • davekingsbury 10:52 am on February 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Startling insights and a pretty good blueprint for personal development, I’d say. Keats said life was a process of soul-building and the building blocks are here, ready to assemble …

      • hardie karges 6:53 pm on February 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        I love all the Romantic poets, big influence, can’t believe I never made it to the Lake District…

    • davekingsbury 4:47 pm on February 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Reckon you did in spirit. It’s just a bunch of rocks and tearooms, anyway …

    • Alexia Adder 12:08 am on January 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Christianity and ancient Christianity are such radically different things they hardly resemble each other. Protestant work ethic and a bunch of other toxic ideas became standard in Christianity when Jesus wasn’t even a capitalist. It’s so strange. Many also scapegoat Satan.

  • hardie karges 3:17 am on January 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ISLAM,   

    Religion 401: Beyond Ficciones and Supersticiones… 

    img_1572

    The Golden Spires of Shwedagon Pagoda

    I’m Karges, not Borges, and this is Burma not Buenos Aires, so there is no time for fiction and it’s time for an end to silly superstitions, the Christian war God and 7-day creation, immaculate conception and messy ascension, hung out to dry on crosses and clotheslines, left to die in caves and blind alleys, rescued by pregnant virgins and holy whores with hearts of gold and the greatest stories ever told…

    But Islam takes holy virgins to new heights, and new depths, heaven and more, from 72 houris (hoors), with varying degrees of “lush full rounded breasts” and more. The best part: the lot of them only need one man, the double standard enshrined into canonical law! We always knew 100 women only need one man to reproduce the species!

    Then there’s this:

    Al-Suyuti. Al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Qur’an. p. 351. Each time we sleep with a Houri we find her virgin. Besides, the penis of the Elected never softens. The erection is eternal; the sensation that you feel each time you make love is utterly delicious and out of this world and were you to experience it in this world you would faint. Each chosen one will marry seventy [sic] houris, besides the women he married on earth, and all will have appetizing vaginas. 

    (space left intentionally blank)

    Okay, I’m back now, and feeling surprisingly refreshed. Then there is the prohibition on pork, which for many Muslims—and Jews—is the line that defines them. I know Muslims in Thailand that drink like fish, but won’t touch pork! Now we all know what pigs eat, and that’s not clean, unless they’re properly raised and fed. But to base a religion on porkly abstinence is absurd—unless all meat is being disallowed…

    The superstitions and little white lies of Christianity and Islam are not unique to the Abrahamic religions (including Judaism, of course), but are easily found in the religions founded in the Indian sub-continent including the world’s third-largest religion (atheism doesn’t count): Hinduism, arguably the worst on this list, with a list of superstitions that would make a Christian blush, including multiple gods, reincarnation, past lives, karma and a caste system to boot. Ouch!

    Buddhism corrected many of those logical inconsistencies, at least temporarily, until the advent of Mahayana Buddhism pretty much let anybody and everybody in, much like Catholicism in the West, so in came all the old superstitions—except the caste system, which is the logical consequence of karma-laden reincarnations. The Tibetans even postulated multiple realms for all the past and future lives of which they are so enamored…

    I guess Tibetans are not into space, up there in the cold winters of their remote mountain fastnesses. They’re into time—makes sense! I think I’ll pass on the ‘hungry ghost’ realm, though—sounds creepy. On second thought, I’ll pass on much of it. Mahayana Buddhism recovered some of its original inspiration by the time it passed through China and reached Japan, but even there, you’re supposed to achieve enlightenment almost magically by the realizations that arise from the linguistic conundrums that arise from unsolvable riddles…

    But there is more to life than language—I hear. Everybody loves predestination and conspiracy theory, ’cause it’s easy, it’s lazy, it’s neat, and it’s convenient—but it’s almost certainly wrong. There is just no evidence—scientific or otherwise—to support it. Karmic retribution serves the same purpose in primitive Buddhism that Hell does in Christianity—enforcement of the moral code with threat of future punishment…

    Enough already: let’s grow up and leave the child psychology behind! Theravada Buddhism has some of that, too, just not so enshrined in the canon. I really don’t think Siddhartha Gautama the Awakened One spent his life searching for answers, only to come up with something akin to Hinduism for non-Indians, or worse: Hindu Lite. No, he almost certainly intended to leave most of it behind—except meditation…

    The Dalai Lama opines that Science isn’t likely to disprove past lives, but: Hello, Dalai, ever heard of DNA? Many prisoners have gotten out of prison that way, and many just might leave religion, too, if it can do no better. Science has superstitions, too, of course, absolute materialism and pharmacological hubris, so no wonder we’re a nation of drug addicts and war whores, but it doesn’t have to be that way…

    Science is still the most obvious way out of superstitions, with DNA, carbon-14 dating, fingerprints and toe-prints to boot, so maybe Tibetans can leave their past lives and karmic retribution behind, move toward something like Reincarnation—in the Spirit, like a Christian ‘born again’, figuratively but not literally…

    Then more than a few Buddhists get obsessed with which direction to circumnavigate a stupa, without questioning whether the whole activity might not just be a littlt bit ‘stupa’d’ itself, if you stop to think about it. If this is what constitutes a religion, then atheists are probably right…

    Same with removing shoes. As with the aforementioned pigs and their sh*t, certain prohibitions made much sense millennia ago, just as a matter of good health. But religion, i.e. a belief system, should be more than that, at least in this day and age. We have vacuum cleaners…

    But the thoroughly modern Christian will say “Love is our belief system,” except that love from above, victors over vanquished, is not the same as the religious magnanimous type. And Muslims will say, “Our jihad is not with swords and the words of war, but in our hearts against the evil thoughts that haunt us. You should try meditation…

    And Hindus will finger their prayer beads and Buddhists will wrap their necks in charms and fetishes. And there’s nothing wrong with any of this, just that it’s not necessary and it cheapens the cause of religion in the eyes of atheists, agnostics and even some scientists. Religion can do better than the analogies and metaphors of bygone eras. And it can do better than the ‘no-thought’ reliance on writ, whether Christian, Muslim, Theravada or Mahayana…

     

     

     

     
  • hardie karges 6:08 pm on December 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , ISLAM   

    Religion Imitates Art: Christian Self-Love and Buddhist Non-Self… 

    img_0953“Man is the measure of all things”…and there began our downfall, this from the Greek Sophist Protagoras and his very sophisticated argument that we human beings are the only thing that matters in this world, our silly views and opinions superior to all others, of course, by virtue of our virtue, and in spite of our spite, the pathological needs of humanity, a sort of radical solipsistic relativism…

    This argument only works with a strong belief and need for self, arguably the origin of consciousness, i.e. self-consciousness, and any further extrapolations indicative of the direction our culture has taken since then, hence our pathological need for democracy, free enterprise, a TV in every room and a car in every garage, every aspect an extension of, and ultimate belief in ourselves, each one of us totally different, supposedly, with or without the bar-code, identified by fingerprints and the DNA from random salivations and assorted misgivings… (More …)

     
    • davekingsbury 3:05 pm on December 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      It doesn’t take a genius to realize that there is a higher consciousness than self-consciousness, or that there are higher needs than selfish ones…absolutely, the opposite is a horror story!

    • Alexia Adder 12:37 am on January 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      It’s true scientifically speaking that all life on this planet is interdependent. Western philosophy tends to emphasize independence and the self in human society, but in reality this is an illusion. We’re part of the animal kingdom. We’re not above it. We’re subject to it.

      • hardie karges 7:53 am on January 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Yes. I’ve been studying genomics. It’s only logical that if we all have a common human ancestor, then we also have prior animal ones, a path back in time…

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