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  • hardie karges 11:51 am on September 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , karma, nidanas, past lives,   

    The Buddhist doctrine of Dependent Arising reconsidered… 

    Everything is a cause. Everything is an effect. We are in the middle. Find happiness there. And I think that this is very close to the original intention of the Buddhist doctrine of Dependent Arising, that there are strict causal connections between events and their aftermaths, even if the connections are maybe not as precise as some may imagine.

    Formally known in Sanskrit as प्रतीत्यसमुत्पाद pratītyasamutpāda or in Pali (the related Theravada canonical language as पटिच्चसमुप्पाद paṭiccasamuppāda, it simply means: “if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist”. Which is all well and good, as far as it goes, whether you take the doctrine as an ontological principle, on the subject of being, or as an epistemological principle, on the subject of knowledge.

    The problem arises (pun intended) when we get down to the twelve links (nidanas), which supposedly articulate this process, basically: 1) ignorance (tabula rasa?), 2) mental formations (first mental activity?), 3) consciousness (of baby-self?), 4) name-and-form (language?), 5) six senses (as distinguished from each other and mind?), 6) contact (look, listen, touch?), 7) sensation (see, hear, feel?), 8) craving, 9) clinging, 10) becoming (ch-ch-changes?), 11) birth (of a higher consciousness?), and 12) aging and death (all question marks indicate my tentative interpretations).

    The problem is that the ‘rebirthers’ (my term and slightly riffing on Trump), have long since appropriated the whole concept as justification for the predetermination and ‘multiple feedback loops’ of karma, that they find necessary to lock one into a system that rewards and punishes with future retribution and prevents the possibility of suicide as a convenient ‘one way out.’

    This notwithstanding the fact that the whole concept apparently predates Buddhism and manifested in various forms before its final version which has become the standard. But ancient terms are always subject to re-interpretation, a current fashion among pseudo-sorta-Buddhas, and of course—shazam and voila! That changes everything. Or does it?

    So I’ve always enthusiastically accepted the general concept, while remaining agnostic on the particulars as if the excessive list-making of wannabe Abhidharmists and johnny-come-lately bloggers, and left it right there unfinished, since modern physics could hardly support a version of empirical reality so obviously simplistic. But a science of mind might. And since psychology is not a science of mind, now, but a science of behavior, then the filed is wide open for speculation.

    The main problem is the first half, the interpretations of which vary widely, as evidenced from the Wikipedia source material. But I see this as a child opening his eyes for the first time and discovering the world, ‘giving names to all the animals,’ (thanks, Bob) etc., and then finally realizing that he is not only an actor on a new stage, but also a toucher, feeler, craver, clinger, thinker, and hopeful bodhisattva—all before he or she has even had his or her first romance (when it really kicks in)!

    Everything else comes after and comprises the final item in the list of mutual dependences. And only in this way do the twelve links make sense to me, though I doubt that the ‘rebirthers’ will buy it. What do you think? Birth is a product of Nature. Rebirth is a product of imagination. I try to do re-invent myself every day…

    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pratityasamutpada

     
  • hardie karges 10:44 am on August 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , delusion, dvesha, greed, , karma, moha, raga   

    Hatred is the Worst Virus, and One of the Three Buddhist ‘Poisons’… 

    Hatred is the worst virus, because it lets you live to spread it. It can be cured by consciousness, fortunately, and that is the good news, because the bad news only gets worse, and that is the fact that some people swear by it. That is, they exist to hate, inspired by its call to action, and by its certainty of conviction…

    This is one of the three Buddhist ‘poisons’ of hate, delusion, and greed, of course, and by far the worst, IMHO, because it involves other people by its very definition. The self-delusion of moha can be confined within the convenient boundaries of self, even if those boundaries are all temporary and artificial…

    And the greed of raga can be mitigated by degrees until it poses little threat to bystanders and fellow travelers. But the hatred of dvesha, even in its mild form of aversion, has devastating social consequences, and is rarely left to stew in its own juices without bubbling over to infect and infest the surrounding perimeters…

    Because this is the heart and soul of racism, that seething contempt for what is other, instead of embracing it, and notwithstanding that what is Other was once all one, and only destined for Otherness by the immutable laws of evolution. So hatred is also self-hatred and that is a pit of despair and hopelessness from which few can ever escape…

    We see that every day in the politics of exclusion and exclusivity, in which hatred becomes the defining fact of our existence, due to misplaced attributions of national superiority, based on no evidence of the sort. Genetic science now proves our common origins beyond a shadow of a doubt, and the details of that diaspora only await final delineations and descriptions to be complete…

    Race is an illusion, and the idea that we are all simply a product and foregone conclusion of a predetermined birth is a myth. Free will is not absolute, but it exists at least to a great enough extent that we are all responsible for our actions. So we should be certain that all our actions are good ones…

    And if we do that, then the odds are high that the favor will be returned, if not directly, then indirectly, often by the most circuitous route imaginable. For if the former action merely results in a transaction, then the latter is karma, pure and simple. Life is full of little cruelties and kindnesses. I recommend the latter…

     
    • Mark Tulin 12:40 pm on August 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      so true, and it feels it’s spreading just as much as the coronavirus

      • hardie karges 1:14 pm on August 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, new meaning to the term ‘going viral’, not so funny right now. Thanx for you comment…

  • hardie karges 11:33 am on May 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ahmaud Arbery, , , , , Homer, Iliad, karma,   

    Karma, Buddhism, Newton, Homer, and Ahmaud… 

    Law of Karma (action) = Newton’s Third Law of Motion: Every action is followed by an equal but opposite reaction, which is pretty easy to understand, and even if it can’t foresee the further ramifications of quantum theory, it still applies in most cases.

    But the religionists couldn’t leave well enough alone, so rather than being content to foresee what Newton would take credit for some 2500 years in the future, they had to go and ‘religio-fy’ it with fear and loathing and generation-jumping superpowers such that a theory of mind that foresaw a theory of physics ends up not even with some valid psychology, but instead a religion of vengeance.

    For many people in this round-ish world of almost 8B truly believe that if they do something wrong, as defined by tradition, then they will be hunted down and threatened with retribution like Ahmaud Arbery in Redneck County, Georgia, and forced to either submit to summary non-justice on suburban streets or fight for their lives like a fox in the hunt.

    But Karma doesn’t usually take such an active role, truth be told, and generally comes only into play as retrofit logic, i.e. if your life has difficulties, then it must be from something you did several generations back, passive voice past subjunctive, and then you just keep filling holes trying to back-fill the logic, rather than take a more active role in trying to subdue your oppressors and thereby prevent further abuses to improve your life.

    Because if a young girl is raped, then she is certainly not the cause, in this life or previous, but the victim, though I have heard a Buddhist monk accuse her exactly of that. But this is a perversion of Buddhism, a dive into superstitions and perverted logic, all for the sake of laziness and fear, to deal with a situation almost too difficult to bear. But bear it we must, if our lives are to have meaning, and the world is to serve our purposes rather than we serve its.

    As always I choose the middle path. My potential Asian Buddhist PhD professor insists that I use passive voice almost exclusively while my potential American literary agent insists that I never do that. But is it not the same language and is it not the same life in the same world? It is, and the call to action—or not—resides within the halls of this hollowed if not hallowed brain, defined equally by emptiness and thing-ness.

    Because Homer proved this point also 2500 years ago with his Iliad in which the protagonists and the antagonists resided only a short 300km/200mi apart, but divided by the Aegean Sea and 1000 years, since they both left the Aryan steppes in search of greener pastures and more fertile valleys, but by different routes, such that this minor sea defines the major gulf that separates Indo from Euro in each of our bicameral minds.

    So House fights Senate and Dems fight Repugs, but really we are all fighting ourselves inside, if not outside, as our random tendencies fight for supremacy, and good struggles against evil. But this is no time for fighting, as worlds lie dying and hospitals are full to overflowing. Now would be a good time to practice some kindness and compassion, and that is the true meaning of Buddhism…

     
  • hardie karges 11:46 am on February 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , karma, , ,   

    Mixing Buddhism and Christianity to find a Middle Path that is free and equal… 

    To see the goodness in everyone sometimes requires special eyeglasses and extra effort, but that is the task to which we must put ourselves, because it is central to our thesis that life is worth living and no one is cast off, no matter how deep the suffering or how egregious the past, that one can be reformed, and forgiven, and can start all over with a clean slate, and no misgivings, and a future fresh and untrammeled, without the dirty footprints of yesterday defining a crooked mile, that goes nowhere, and is only fated to return. And in this sense Christianity may have a vast advantage over some sects of Buddhism that insist that we must relive our lives over and over with only small hope of actually making the quantum leap to a higher ‘type of person’, hopefully human (and male), lighter skin the better, in this last-ditch lottery of human salvation, when theoretically there is nothing really there to be saved anyway, in Buddhism, so why bother? Because people want magic and fantasy and the supernatural presence of divine intervention in their little lives, rather than slug it out in the coal mines and canary cages of the material world, with little hope of improvement, that’s why. Supposedly. Because we all know that many of the most knowledgeable people really believe none of that reincarnation nonsense, anyway, but know that it’ll put the fear of Mara and Mount Meru in the average village person, such that he’ll be much more obedient, and ultimately better off in this life of few rewards, and even fewer gains, in the quantum leap upward to a better ‘type of person’. Because this is central to the Hindu Brahmanic thesis, that there are different ‘types of persons’, most specifically those genetically shuffled Brahmins on top of a rapidly descending ladder to the bottom level, of those who must toil and trouble in the bubbling vats of sacred colors, ready to adorn the fashioned features of the fated few, while the vast unwashed steady the ladder that suppresses them. But for many the need for absolute certainty is preferable to the remote possibilities for hypothetical advancement, so acceptable in a belated sort of way. And that’s okay, if that’s what you want, but it doesn’t have to be that way, whether you’re Christian or Buddhist or Hindu or Jew, because you can mix and match philosophies however you want, regardless of what anyone says, as long as you’re honest about it, and true to your own heart and mind, however changing and impermanent. Because ‘skillful means’ can select its topics, and its targets, but not its truths, so I may preach limits to Americans and freedom to Asians, with no contradiction in the least, because there is a sweet spot in the middle that is not only logically inferred, but existentially real. Everyone has equal value. All sentient beings have equal worth. This is no accident of fate or karma, color or birth…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 5:32 pm on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Some healthy cross-fertilisation, with us as the bee … makes perfect sense to me! A little green awareness thrown into the mix …

      • hardie karges 5:35 pm on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Dave. If a free-associative piece somehow manages to attain perfect sense, then that is words choosing their own proper course instinctively, I suppose…

        • Dave Kingsbury 3:08 am on February 25, 2020 Permalink

          Absolutely agree, Hardie, rather like a stream finding its way – I’ve resolved to explore similar, er, territory in my own writing.

  • hardie karges 9:38 am on January 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , karma,   

    MODERN BUDDHISM 2020: One Life, One world (พุทธศาสนารักวิทยาศาสตร์) 

    This is to announce the formation of a new Facebook group, under my moderation. The main inspiration for this group is to explore the possibilities for a Buddhism without rebirth or reincarnation, past lives, and the generation-jumping karma of retribution. For me that it is the elephant in the room of Buddhism, which nobody really seems to want to talk about (or maybe they do, but it gets contentious, so goes nowhere). ‘Secular’ Buddhists don’t talk about it, and ‘Western’ Buddhists don’t talk about it. So what makes them secular; what makes them Western? Beats me. Stephen Batchelor certainly talked about it in his book ‘Buddhism Without Beliefs’, though he skillfully left any conclusions open for discussion. And that’s the way it should be, really, a cozy middle path between ancient beliefs and modern, with plenty of wiggle room for everyone to feel comfortable, without confrontation, as orientations modernize at their own pace. There’s only one problem: the ‘re-birthers’ are doubling down. They’re writing books about the ‘case for rebirth’ and postulating ‘multiple feedback loops’ of karma.

    So it needs to be discussed, defined, and decided, at least individually, because with unscientific beliefs Buddhism relegates itself to the status of a superstitious faith-based religion, rather than an empirical science-based philosophy and psychology. As the name of this group implies, this is the only life and the only world that I know, so I don’t want to speculate too much on any other. Thus, for me at least, scientific method is the best way to know the external world, subject to ongoing revision, and Buddhist insight is the best way to live my life, certain and inviolable, if forever evolving. They are two separate aspects of my reality: internal and external. This is my preference, since neither rebirth, past lives, nor karma can be proven any more than the Christian Heaven, Hell, or God, which the current Pope freely admitted. When will a Buddhist senior monk admit the same? If your feelings are similar, then you are welcome here, to post, comment, or just hang out. If you are just curious, feel free to participate politely. If you are contrary, please be careful and don’t step on anyone else’s feelings.

    C U there:https://www.facebook.com/groups/196544654825092/

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 3:34 pm on January 31, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      sounds a worthwhile project will investigate and perhaps see you there excuse lower case arm in sling

      • hardie karges 3:36 pm on January 31, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        You’re in, brother. Let’s hang out. (But take care of that arm)…

  • hardie karges 6:34 am on November 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , karma   

    Karma and the Necessity of Imperfection 

    Maybe the world is an imperfect place, or maybe I’m just too sensitive. But the world, of course, is defined by its imperfection, and it would be futile to want it any other way, in fact, because these imperfections are what allows for change and evolution, the constant mutation of genetic units into something else, the concepts of better or worse subject to the judgment of volunteers and substitutes, while perfection itself means no such thing, just the fact that it has been completed, finished, no more change, end of story, and that’s not likely to happen, no time soon, anyway, not with egos flaring and guns flashing, the glint of hard cold steel embedding itself in our collective consciousness as a reminder of our potential for cruelty, as a vestige of our not-so-distant past, savage and brutal and begging for redemption when none is likely and where none could be further from the truth. This is ground zero, the testing area, between past and future, for liberation and release, from the bonds of self-imprisonment and the requirements for future freedom. The past is but a signpost and the present a yawning zero, a field of action between the two goal posts of judgment, neither of which has meaning except that which we care to give it, for purposes of narrative, the requirements of closure and the necessities of a happy ending, with possibilities for future options. But in every act of jurisprudence the important question is intent, no matter the difficulty of determination or the conundrums of context, because guilt without intent is in fact no guilt at all, in a good and just world, and any notion of Buddhist karma must take this into account, no less so than the Supreme Court, sitting in judgment over the law of our land. Karma is equal to actions, and actions are equal to intent. Every act of cruelty or kindness carries the weight of its own intent, no more and no less…

     
  • hardie karges 1:24 am on October 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ethics, , Jain, karma, , , , , , Vedanta   

    Buddhism and the long winding path: No soul for me, please, and make that karma ‘lite’… 

    Salvation implies a soul to be saved. I’d prefer some enlightenment, in this lifetime. And that’s a fundamental tenet of Buddhism, of course, the lack of a permanent enduring soul to guide you through the ages, or even a solid existent self to call your own in this lifetime, the basis for egotism and possession, and all the misgivings of misplaced attachments. And if that seems like a significant deviation from the teachings of Christ, then it was even more of a deviation from the early Vedic-inspired teachings of India, including Jainism and what we now call Hinduism. For if the Vedantic Hindus want a Self to unite with a Cosmos, an Atman to unite with a Brahman, then the Jains want to find a soul in everything, every little thing, be it rock, insect or umbrella. It’s not just that everything is alive, but it’s permanent and enduring. The Buddha thought he saw something simpler than all these machinations of overwrought mentality, which are just linguistic conveniences standing up and asking to be counted, when in reality there is really nothing there, just ‘mental formations’ or something like that. After all, if everything has a soul, then what do we do to acknowledge that? The Jain answer was: not much. Just sit, sit, and sit some more. It’ll all go away sooner or later. Every action was possessed of karmas, plural. Now that may seem like a strange definition of karma, but they likely invented the concept, so that’s their right. Others saw it differently, for once the cat of karma was out of the bag, so to speak, then there is no end to it, the generation-jumping karma of retribution and the things we’ll do to avoid it. If religion craves certainty, then this became the Hindu leitmotif, past lives and reincarnation, which, like conspiracy theory, cannot be disproven, so it must be true. But don’t we need some semblance of free will, simply for the dictates of morality and ethics? So I prefer something simpler, ‘karma lite’ if you prefer: Do good and life is good. Do bad and life is bad. That’s karma, actions. You will be rewarded by them, not for them…

     
    • quantumpreceptor 7:08 am on October 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Hardy, good job boiling things down and making them simple enough to live them.

      QP

    • Passport Overused 8:01 am on October 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Great post 😊

    • hardie karges 10:57 am on October 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks

    • Dave Kingsbury 4:41 pm on October 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      You will be rewarded by them, not for them… great insight here, the circle squared perhaps?

    • hardie karges 11:45 pm on October 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Actually I may have modified a quote from the Dalai Lama there, so should give credit, not sure of his exact words. ‘Circle squared’, though: I like that…

  • hardie karges 7:37 am on February 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Edward Conze, impeachment, karma, , SDNY,   

    DJ Trump and the Sarvāstivādin Theory of Momentariness… 

    img_1401

    Reflections in the back seat

    For those of you who are not in the process of pursuing a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies, let me explain that the Sarvāstivādins were a large Abhidharma-era group that split off from the mainstream Theravādins after Asoka’s third Buddhist Council at Pataliputra c. 250 BCE, over their insistence that ‘everything exists’, i.e. ‘sarvam asti‘ (or something like that, my Sanskrit sucks), while the Theravādins preferred a bit more ‘discrimination’…

    And part of that theory of everything was an atomistic conception of time: atoms, of both time and matter, and classifiable as either: (1) states of consciousness (citta); (2) mental ‘concomitants’ (cetasika); (3) corporeality (rūpa); plus (4) nirvāna. According to the Sarvāstivādin conception of time, these could exist equally well in the past, present or future. For their part the Theravādins only acknowledged the present, albeit in successive moments… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 4:10 am on January 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ICE, , , karma, , ,   

    Buddhism and Donald Trump, Criminal Intent and Modern Justice 

    img_2116Intent is the elephant in the courtroom of modern justice, beyond forensics and beyond genetics, the need to know what someone was thinking and why they thought it, at such-and-such a time and such-and-such a place. But isn’t this a system doomed to failure? And is it really necessary? Only we European-derived Westerners could invent a term like schadenfreude, delight in the misfortune of others, not so much the passive enjoyment of something such so strange, but that we do it so often that we have a name for it…

    But that is indeed the case, that we are so obsessed with our feelings that our whole system of justice is based upon it, such that if someone is supposedly repentant, then that counts in his favor, whereas without it he is doomed to longer incarceration, as if we could really know the difference, so to make ourselves feel good we reward the best actors, and maybe the most honest are doomed to perdition… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 4:11 am on November 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brahmanization, , , , holy war, , karma, ,   

    Buddhist Holy War, Part II: Tune in, turn on, drop out… 

    img_1893(continued from previous)

    The Buddhist situation 2500 years ago may indeed have been not so different from our own, with a rapidly expanding population soon to go into a stall, and the Brahmanization of India underway, i.e. the caste system, threatening to lock people into a form of submission to which they’d never previously been subjected. And it’s no accident that so many religions sprouted within a half millennium or so of the beginning of the common era, with any self-respecting guru prophesying the End of Days…

    All of a sudden renunciation doesn’t look like such a bad option. And so it is today, because what can they do if you simply refuse to cooperate, simply renounce all ties to the current oligarchs, slave-owners and warmongers? They can’t force you to work. They can beat you; they can even kill you. But they can’t force you to work. They can threaten your loved ones, though… (More …)

     
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