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  • hardie karges 8:09 am on February 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , karma, laptop, Omicron, VPN, WiFi   

    Karma on the Installment Plan—in Nepal… 

    I’ll change my usual format here today, which typically consists of choosing what I consider to be a pithy quote or two—of my own, of course—and then expound on it or them, in the hope of explaining myself and/or the world, so that it might help someone in their own personal quest for beauty, truth, and goodness. Because sometimes life itself offers succinct little stories that say more than I can say from the depths of my imagination, no matter how hard I try. And I would also like to cross-pollinate my Buddha and travel blogs, too, so this seems like a good opportunity. I’ll just re-blog this there.

    In this case the meat of the subject is the idea that the worst things that happen often bring rich blessings, if one can only find the lesson in the suffering and turn despair into delight with a minimum of delay. This goes to the heart of karma, and gives it new value, so not just a justification of an often unjust status quo which consolidates the wicked in power and reduces social mobility to a minimum. Karma, after all, means ‘acts,’ not ‘fate,’ such that the merit gained from good acts, will come back to bless the actor many times over with benefits from unspecified locations and sources.

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  • hardie karges 8:08 am on February 6, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Four Noble Trutrhs, karma, , ,   

    Buddhism and the Path Forward… 

    I’m willing to forego some pleasure, if that means I can forego some pain. And that’s the Buddhist Middle Path in a nutshell, if you like nuts. Because that was the dilemma Siddhartha Gautama was faced with, before he was the Buddha, as a prince of the ksatriya (warrior) caste, most likely, and with all the luxury that life can bring. Until one day, that is, when he ventured outside his harem and realized with a shock that real people, those without harems, also suffer sin, disease and death, not to mention old age, which is possibly the worst of all, or so I hear, haha…

    And from that stark realization, of our impermanence and our imperfection, was born the foundation of Buddhism, the Middle Path to avoid suffering. Some people say that Karma, Rebirth, and the resulting past lives are the bedrock of Buddhism. They’re wrong. The later Mahayanists came up with a slightly different Middle Path, translated from different Sanskrit words, that means the path between existence and non-existence, but that came later, by around five hundred years, give or take a century. Indians hated writing things down, for reasons best left to idle conjecture, since if there was a reason to be known, then it likely would have been written.

    The way to avoid, mitigate, and hopefully even cease suffering, if not actually cure it, is to first cease craving, of course. Because if this is a world of suffering, then it is also a world of desire, and that is no coincidence, they locked in a dance to the death that largely defines our dimension—of suffering. If that sounds pessimistic, then I would urge you to check your American Express gold card at the door and contemplate your own death for only a second. Because that length of time is enough to show you that you are not the master of the Universe, nor even your own fate. At best you are only the master of your emotions, and that is where Buddhism does its best work. Before Enlightenment save the world. After Enlightenment save the world. It beats chopping wood—sometimes…

     
  • hardie karges 8:05 am on January 16, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon, , , karma, , monks, Newton's third law   

    Buddhism in the Modern Era 

    Some people might laugh at a monk in meditation, wasting his life away, but I laugh at the silly fools who cause global warming. Because they are the ones that are not only wasting their lives, and themselves, but they are destroying the world for the rest of us, also, and that is a crime that should be punishable to the maximum extent of the law. Meditation is no crime, regardless of whether you think it does anyone any good or not. It certainly does no one any harm, and that’s the Hippocratic Oath, primum non nocere…

    So why do it? The short answer is for the peace of mind, of course, and that should be plenty. But the industrialists and capitalists are hooked on growth like Skid Row addicts on the junk and other trash that populates so much of our lives. Beauty is so much better, and it is absolutely free, costing nothing in the backyard garden and not much more in Amazon, which in reality is a jungle in the South American heart of darkness, which really isn’t so dark at all, in fact a veritable paradise and biology lab par excellence…

    But the Truth, Beauty, and Goodness implicit in the state of Nature are wasted on people who only judge value by dollar signs and Yelp (!) reviews. Because that is a world that means little in the final analysis of man’s involvement with his planet. Karma may be a sketchy concept, but that sketch packs a powerful punch: we reap what we sow, somehow some way, and that murkiness is important. Because the fact that every action has an equal effect is not karma; that’s Newton’s 3rd Law. That every action has an indirect, perhaps greater, effect is karma, and that’s dharma, law, religion, you name it…

     
  • 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: , , 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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