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  • hardie karges 10:21 am on October 31, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , karma, , ,   

    Buddhist Dana is like Karma, and Anatta: just get over yourself… 

    It’s not generosity, dana, if you expect something in return. That’s business, an investment, a transaction. Dana is selfless, and so closely related to the Buddhist principle of anatta, non-self. This is crucial to a proper understanding of Buddhism, and love, too. For in early Buddhism the only kind of love is metta, friendship, brotherly love, and sisterly, too, or lovingkindness, if you insist on that repurposed Christian term from the Hebrew chesed. That’s too emotional for me. Buddhism is passionless, by design. American photography classes will teach you to point and click at the peak emotion. Buddhism doesn’t do that. Buddhism teaches a different way, the Middle Path, between luxury and lack, to be sure, but also passion and dispassion.

    And there is no call to action, not really, hence all the rishis whiling away their hours in caves and under trees, for the last three thousand some-odd (some very odd!) years. But if you want to do something, then do something good. And giving is one of the best things that you can do, pretty much encompassing almost all the folds of the Noble (Aryan) Eightfold Path. Dana is no more about huge outlays of cash, though, than it is about getting something in return. It is about Right Intention. Because none of us can predict how the future will unfold. All we know is the past, and what we live is the present, the most important of all.

    So, if the Eightfold Path comprises Right Understanding, Thought, Speech, Action, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness, and Concentration, then all but those last two steps of sati and samadhi would certainly be included within the purview of dana, or generosity. But there’s no reason to think that those eight steps on the path are all-inclusive anyway. I’m sure we can think of some others equally important. But as every good blogger, Chinese politician, or early Buddhist Abhidharmist knows, lists are supremely convenient, especially when nothing was written to begin with. I see karma similarly, not simple cause and effect. That’s mechanical, like Newtonian physics. Karma is an overarching principle: do good and receive good. But that’s another story. Freely give and freely receive. That’s dana…

     
  • hardie karges 11:44 am on September 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , karma, , , retributi8on, samma kammanta   

    The Buddhist Eightfold Path Does Not Bite 

    Revenge is not sweet. Retribution is not necessary. Equanimity is a path for all situations and all times: cool, calm, and collected. Isn’t it? And, if that is a lesson for the real world of sinners, not saints, then I think that it should go doubly for that saintly world that professes to know better. But religion is the worst offender at much of this, accomplishing with fear what it fails to accomplish with righteousness and inspiration. And so we do good, because we are scared of what might happen if we do bad. Saint Peter at the pearly gates of Heaven just might decide to revoke our visa and send us packing, back down to the Underworld south of Australia.

    But shouldn’t we do good simply for the act of doing good? Of course, we should. Isn’t that reward enough in itself? Can’t we win without someone else losing? Then, there are always the smiles on the young kids’ faces, if we need to quantify our gains by counting more tangible rewards. But isn’t that the problem more than the solution? Are we defined by the transient rewards of shallow victory? Not in the best of worlds. In the best of worlds there is always a sweet spot for conciliation, and reconciliation, that allows everyone to emerge from challenges and struggles with dignity and privilege intact.

    And that is the challenge, to not only do good, but to feel good about it. Anybody can do the right thing under pressure. But how many can do the right thing out of the goodness of their hearts? So, the appropriate measures of fear are applied, and then we hope for the best. If the right and correct thing is not done, then there will be Hell to pay, literally, at some point in the future. Christianity and Islam, the Abrahamic religions, specialize in this. But Buddhism does it, too, with application of the principle of Karma above and far beyond its original intent.

    So what was originally intended as something simple and akin to the Golden Rule, and based on Right Actions, samma kammanta, in the original early Buddhist conception, becomes a generation-jumping act of retribution in Tibet 1000 years later. Sometimes some people need to be whupped upside the head, I suppose, when simple logic and simple pleasures don’t suffice, but that is not preferable, and useful only as a last resort. The bottom line is simple and resolves into a matter of belief: If you believe in karmic retribution, then you will be subject to karmic retribution. Do the right thing—simple.

     
  • hardie karges 11:19 am on September 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , karma, , , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism: in the Face of Race, and Caste… 

    Buddhism is an implicit, if not explicit, rejection of any and all systems of caste and social class. Because we are only united in our imperfections and suffering. If we were all perfect, then we would have no need of each other. Which is not to say that anyone should feel slight nor slighted by the lack of perfections. And many of the Zen masters in fact claim just that, that we are all perfect, but the Buddha never said that, or anything even close to that. In fact he was quite emphatic that, when it comes to any ego, soul, or permanent and lasting self, that “there is no there there,” to quote Gertrude Stein, in reference to Oakland, CA, USA.

    And so we are all little Oaklands of the outfield, near the bleacher seats, roaming our turf with really no overriding rights to any of it. He even went so far as to refer to our skandhas, or ‘heaps,’ ‘aggregates,’ as if we were nothing more than some circumstantial piles of adjectival sand drifted up into corners, awaiting the next puff of wind to blow us a bit farther down the road, or indeed blow us right back to from where we came. In other words, all claims to divinity or even Trump’s ‘good genes’ are but the blatherings and BS of haughtiness and hubris. And so, it’s no wonder that the priestly class of India’s Brahmin caste found more work in the rites and rituals of what later came to be known as ‘Hinduism,’ though their wives were often Buddhists.

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  • hardie karges 8:50 am on July 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bodhicitta, , , , , karma, , , , ,   

    Buddhism Made Easy: Kindness, Compassion, and all that Meditation… 

    Meditation every day keeps the doctor away, and a little kindness helps, too. That pretty much wraps up the gist of Buddhism, without all the doctrines and the calls to action, when inaction is often much preferred. Because Christianity may indeed have been a better paradigm for development of a world raw and wild, but Buddhism is the better paradigm for sustainability. And that is much the reason why I am here. The sentiment is easily extrapolated or interpolated for the life of an ordinary human being, also, such that Christianity might indeed be the better model for growing up and developing, but Buddhism is the better model for settling in and settling down, for the long haul…

    The Four Noble (Aryan) Truths and the primacy of suffering form the cornerstone of Buddhism’s overt doctrine, but meditation is the cornerstone of covert discipline. And so we tame the body and mind as we tame the world, and suddenly things become clearer. The natural animosity of the state of Nature is nothing of the sort when two typically argumentative species—say dogs and cats—are raised together as pups and kittens from the earliest days, keeping each other warm when nights are cold, and heaters are just fantasies from the north country. Is there any better example of Bodhicitta, i.e. Buddha nature?

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  • hardie karges 9:54 am on June 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bill Gates, , , , karma, , , ,   

    Karma is not a B*tch; She is Mother Nature… 

    I made the coffee too strong, and got too excited, so I spilled it accidentally, and now everything’s fine–Life 492…

    That is a simple enough little ditty, now, isn’t it? On one level it’s just a description of another manic Monday living in the USA, down in jungle land, for what it’s worth. And on another level it’s a brief glimpse into the horrors of the caffeine addiction to which I’ve relapsed after successfully divorcing myself from that horrible fate—or so I thought. And on an even different level it’s a description of life itself, as the joking attribution suggests.

    But on a higher level it also says something about Karma, not the Karma of retribution that speaks to the need of some religions for punishment, if not by some God, then by some force, or doctrine. For isn’t monotheism really the replacement of deities by doctrine, so more than the reduction in godheads, really more of an increase in letterheads? And it’s not a Karma of simple cause and effect, which is really more like a business transaction than a connection with a higher force.

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  • hardie karges 11:47 am on May 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , forgiveness, Fukushima, karma, trash   

    Buddhism and the Myth of the Cosmic Karmic Flush… 

    We in the Western world are truly mothers of invention and children of it, too, notwithstanding the early achievements of the Chinese and others, with their paradigm-shifting inventions of paper and playing cards and gunpowder and so forth. But somewhere along the way we got the idea that we can throw things away and they somehow just disappear. Now that big (bad) idea may have come with the development of widespread indoor plumbing, but it likely dates back to the beginnings of our species.

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  • hardie karges 12:26 pm on April 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brahmanism, , Carvakas, cosmological constant, , Gosala, , karma, , Nepali, Predeterminism, , ,   

    Karma, Rebirth, and the Middle Path of Buddhism 

    Karma is not a bank account. Karma is a way to live with right actions. That’s what the word means, in fact, simply ‘actions.’ But somewhere along the way the word got mixed up in the fashions of the day, in 6th to 8th century India, Before the Common Era, and the materialistic demands of the Carvakas in contrast to the predeterminism of Gosala, tutor to both the Buddha and Mahavira, 23rd Tirthankara of the Jains. They were of the extreme ascetic bent, of course, in which Emptiness literally means empty bellies, by willful design, to the point of inanition and even death, for lack of other inspiration.

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

    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.

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  • hardie karges 2:00 pm on February 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , karma, , , , , , Right Speech,   

    The Two Major Schools of Buddhism: Past Life or Present Moment… 

    You can’t be a ‘present moment’ Buddhist and a ‘past life’ Buddhist at the same time, since the two concepts are contradictory. And this is probably more important than any modern distinction between Theravada and Mahayana, Tibetan or Zen, simply whether you believe in past lives or not, karma and rebirth supposedly the causes and effects of that process.

    So the present moment is mostly a convenient escape, with ET extending the landing chute, because no present moment really exists, any more than a past life, but the latter is more onerous than the former, which can vanish with the flick of a whisker, while the past lives will never go away, as long as it is believed in.

    Because past lives are all about predestination, and the submission to a supposedly higher will, when one is more than enough. And if this all likely began with the best of intentions, it soon became a stage prop to the caste system, i.e. racism, the idea that some are born with latent superiorities, while others are born with obvious deficiencies.

    Thus your station in life is pre-determined by the events of a previous life, and there is little you can do to change it. None of that has any basis in science, of course, the racism nor the past lives. But still we have to deal with it, day by day, the racism of Aryan superiority not only in India, but in Europe and Amerika and in the latter-day colonies Down Under.

    Predestination is the philosophical side to the same phenomena of past lives, the idea that ‘it is all written,’ notwithstanding the fact that nothing at all was written until a few thousand years ago, still the image is powerful, script on paper, replicating itself into countless lifetimes and universal ages.

    Calvin the Presbyter made great gains with a similar theory in the Western world, details left to the deacons of stupas and steeples, the main takeaway that we are not in control, PERIOD. And that might not be such a bad thing, if the ulterior motives of religion are to be taken at face value.

    After all, aren’t all religions most similar in their insistence that we subject ourselves to a higher will? For all Christianity’s eternity and infinity, the need to obey God is paramount, the only question now or later, prodigal or prescient. And so it is with Islamic submission and Hindu embrace, we Buddhists left to fill in blanks that the others have all left unfilled.

    But the ‘present moment’ is something else entirely, and at its best in countering the pernicious superstitions of karma, especially the kind that jumps generations to bounce back and bite you when you least expect it, in the next life. Belief in the present moment provides a convenient counterpart to challenge all that. I would go not nearly so far as ET in extolling its virtues, since its virtues to me are simply those of meditation, whether with single focus or field focus, the result is the same.

    To shut off the internal dialogue, even for a moment, is to return to proto-consciousness, paleo-consciousness, before language took over and came to own it. Now languages conquer peoples and acquire new lands, our hapless selves but tools of the medium, neither rare nor well done. Samma vaca is right speech. Right speech is good speech. Silence is preferable to bad speech. Words matter…

     
    • Five 7:46 am on February 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      What tradition of Buddhism were you trained in, Hardie? And is this “present moment Buddhism” something that people teach?

      You say “You can’t be a ‘present moment’ Buddhist and a ‘past life’ Buddhist at the same time” – but you can, and that is the whole point. Because the present moment never had a beginning (you recall one?) and has no end – it cannot have because it has no duration – that tells us that the “present moment”, i.e. conscious awareness, does not end at death. That’s all you need to know, you don’t need to remember past lives, or believe anything other than your experience (which is only ever of the ‘present moment’, as above, that IS your experience).

    • hardie karges 7:54 am on February 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      I have an MA in Buddhist Studies, so I am ‘trained’ in all of them. No, ‘present moment’ Buddhism is not taught, to my knowledge, unless you want to credit Eckhart Tolle with it. I use poetic license to conduct my thought experiments, in hopes of reaching a higher truth, or at least a different one. Interesting that you begin by disagreeing with me, and end by more-or-less agreeing with me. You are obviously a present moment Buddhist, if you are a Buddhist at all, good choice (even if you don’t believe in death, which is a bit of a dicey proposition)…

  • hardie karges 11:48 am on February 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , equanimity, , , Jataka, karma, thought experiment   

    Thought Experiment: Reverse Karma and the Limitations of Intent… 

    Sometimes our worst enemy can teach us more than our best friend. This is one of the secondary principles of Buddhism, derived directly from the foundations, if not stated explicitly therein. So it is a kind of reverse karma, in which things happen as a result of causes, but not in any precise order. Karma is not a simple law of cause and effect, after all, if it is a law at all. It is a law of indirect effect, or extended effect, beyond the immediacy of action and reaction, which is simple classical physics, or simple free enterprise: you give me some money, and I’ll give you a product.

    Karma, if it exists, must be something more than that. For example: you give me some money, and I’ll guarantee that you get something back far and away more than you ever expected, and at a time to be determined later (I accept all currencies, by the way). And so it is with my idea of Reverse Karma, something similar to that often expressed by Tibetan Buddhists in general, and the Dalai Lama, in particular. And this is not surprising, because Tibetan Buddhists seem to be the most attracted and attached to the concept of karma.

    But there’s one important difference in the karma that I accept and the karma that so captures the Tibetans: this life. My karma exists only in this life, which is the only one I know, and which is the only one knowable, IMHO. The Tibetans, and many others, perhaps most inspired by the Jataka tales of the Buddha’s many lives, believe in the constant recycling of lives and consciousness, thinly disguised souls looking for succor.

    I limit my endeavors to this this life and this world, which is only consistent, after all, if you are a ‘present moment’ Buddhist, now, isn’t it? You know ET’s ‘Power of Now’ and all that rap, right? Not a bad way to go. And so it is with Reverse Karma, at least as I envision it. The Tibetans may have other ideas (but let’s leave Lobsang Rampa out of it, okay?)

    So if karma is all about your actions, then Reverse Karma, in my thought experiment, is all about your reactions, i.e. being the recipient of actions, not the actor, or doer, yourself. And this is a lot trickier, if you stop to think about it. Because you may well be very certain about what you want to do in this life, but how can you be certain about what to receive from others, when you have no idea what that will be, or when that will be? You can’t. As an individual you can’t, nor as a group can we.

    Most of us know that we need to do something about Global Warming, but few of us know the best way to go about it. Yet some will survive, and others likely won’t, regardless of the fact that we share a planet. So if we only knew which group or groups would most likely survive, then we could ally ourselves with them. That is one way Reverse Karma could work. Another way is the well-known ‘Butterfly Effect’ of Chaos Theory, in which a random action simply sets off a chain reaction of almost totally unrelated events.

    The point is: Reverse Karma is the ultimate test of equanimity, a balanced and composed mind, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Sound familiar? Therefore we must be open to all actions as being ultimately the best of circumstances, regardless of implied intent and ascribed emotions. One more word about rebirth: it has been said that we should be open to it, and that is true. But we should also be open to non-rebirth and that is the problem, because the ‘re-birthers’ are bending over backwards to double down on it. But that is for another day and maybe even another life. We are all going to die, after all, that is true, but not today…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 3:05 pm on February 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      I wonder if karma for a ‘present moment’ Buddhist could be the accumulated richness and connectivity of life as it plays out? Ripeness is all, to quote the Bard! Just a thought from an amateur in such matters …

    • hardie karges 3:10 pm on February 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      Hey, I like it! There’s always a place at the table for the Bard…

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