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  • hardie karges 12:12 pm on October 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Aramaic, , Brahmi, , Devanagari, Dorian, Kharosthi, language, , rishis, Spartan, sramanas   

    Buddhism, Racism, and the Middle Path of History… 

    The purpose of knowledge is to ease suffering, not to lord it over others. When knowledge becomes a tool, then we have a problem that we need to deal with. And we do—have a problem that we need to deal with. You can call it racism, or nationalism, or simply false pride, but there it is, the fact that some people think that they are better than others, and intend to enforce that distinction, while providing sometimes elaborate proofs for its justification.

    More often than not, though, the self-described cognoscenti think they can simply look at someone and deep secrets are somehow revealed, as a flight hostess once explained to me that they are taught to simply look at someone and know what language they speak. Must be nice. But it’s not. It’s cheating, cheating life, and cheating oneself.

    I wondered for a long time, still do, why the Brahmin class of India refused to use written language, long long long, 1000 years, after their counterparts elsewhere were scribbling, scribing, and describing events in the Semitic alphabets that would become the world standard everywhere, except China, Korea, and related countries.

    Meanwhile those Aryans-become-Brahmins only reluctantly acquiesced to allow their divine sacred Sanskrit to be submitted to the little graphs and symbols that constitute written language. They gave many rishis and sramanas their lay-off notices, too, since their services would no longer be required to painstakingly memorize the sacred Vedas, arguably one of the finest pieces of literature ever composed—composed, mind you, but not written.

    That only occurred with the invention of the Devanagari alphabet in the first half of the first millennium CE, and in full use by the 7th century. Until then they had to make do with the rustic Brahmi alphabet, which only came into existence in the last half of the first millennium BCE. By then the Buddhist monkhood was well established, and not subject to the vicissitudes of language.

    King Ashoka at around year 250 BCE used not only Brahmi and Kharosthi, modeled on Aramaic, but Greek and Aramaic itself to inscribe his famous inscriptions—in rock. Still the question remains: why the 1000-year wait? The clue finally came with the example of their long-lost cousins and like-minded Dorians of ancient Greece.

    In the process of becoming the legendary hard-ass Spartans of history, they enslaved many a Minoan along the way, and—drum roll here, please—deliberately denied them education, much like the even-more-distant Mississippi rednecks did to their slaves (author’s note: I’m from Mississippi, but hopefully not redneck). Bingo! It all makes sense now.

    The Brahmin-dominated caste system of Indian depends on holding their ‘lessers’ down (notably darker-skinned and of other origins, well-documented by y-DNA), by denying them the education which preserves Brahmin power. Buddhism rejected all that, though they were still long subject to its ramifications. Despite the current political turmoil, still life is better than it once was, and the message is clear. You can learn from the Buddha or you can learn from a virus. The message is largely the same: Do no harm…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 12:09 pm on October 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting history here! Knowledge is power, they say, which must be why the priest-caste lay claim to exclusive possession of it. Any good teacher knows, however, that guiding learners to seeing something for (and within) themselves is the correct way.

    • hardie karges 1:13 pm on October 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, well put. Thanks for your comments…

  • hardie karges 11:34 am on September 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Gandhi, homo sapiens, language, Mahatma, , Protestant,   

    Buddhism is Found in the Beauty of Silence… 

    Sometimes silence can accomplish more than violence, and that’s something that Mahatma Gandhi knew, but which most modern protesters seem to have forgotten, when they parade that smug self-assertion that assumes that more chaos is better than less, while innocent victims die unattended and children see their lives suspended.

    This is the problem, not the solution, that we all need to take the bait, and excite the crowds, when just the opposite is truest: when silence prevails, the world is a better place, and we are all more equal. And this is not limited to manipulation of the Anglo-Saxon guilt complex, which Gandhi did so expertly, though that might be where it works best, there and in the surrounding Indo-European community, which has long been indoctrinated with Christianity and the doctrine of forgiveness.

    But it should work elsewhere, too, though perhaps with lesser results, especially where materialist doctrines have gained supremacy, arguably the difference between socialism and communism, that rejection of all ethics and most morality, in total deference to the party and the race.

    But Tibetan monks don’t practice self-immolation to hear the crowds cheering at Wimbledon or the Kentucky Derby. They do it because they want to send a message and because they can, where other avenues of ex-pression are limited, and where memories are long, even if time is short. Buddhists are disciplined if nothing else, witness the current pandemic results.

    And so it can be for all of us. Protestants were once protesters. Passion was once suffering. Our species arose from something that preceded it, and only caught fire with the invention of language. And that is where we stand today, at the crossroads of history, between the forces of good and evil which correspond roughly to the hemispheres of our brains.

    Thus a dialectic and discourse is built right in to our system of consciousness, and language is powerless to prevent it, since language is largely what created it. In the beginning was the Word, and in the end the meek will supposedly inherit the earth, and everything else is for us to figure out, and let the history books sort it out.

    Scientists call us homo sapiens, wise person, but that is probably far too generous, because we are in no position to judge ourselves, not from the long view of history, but only from the short view of a human lifetime. The most we can truly claim for ourselves is language, so homo linguarum, and for better or worse, that is our fate, to yak it up, even when silence is sometimes far better.

    And that is one thing I have learned in Buddhism, if nothing else, in one word: silence. That is the sound of meditation. That is the sound of Emptiness. Language is the best and worst human invention. Use it wisely…

     
  • hardie karges 11:35 am on March 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Corona, , language, , ,   

    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 12:29 pm on March 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adjectives, adverbs, , , language, , nouns, , verbs   

    Buddhism 202: Mahayana or Theravada? Decisions decisions… 

    First I save myself, then I save the world. This is my reconciliation of the old Theravada vs. Mahayana debate, small wheel vs. large, respectively, on the question of whether to devote one’s time and energies to the salvation of oneself or the salvation of the world, notwithstanding the issue of whether the concept of salvation is just an import of Christian values on to a Buddhist nexus, or not, and just what there would be to save anyway, if so, given the fact that Buddhism places no belief in self or souls, per se, in the case of the individual, or what would be there in its stead, in the case of society, or the world, as if that might have an internal essence, or something such, when it almost certainly doesn’t, just more of those non-self selves all collecting and coagulating together, they both but aggregations of views aspects factors and circumstances probably best described by verbs nouns adjectives and adverbs, as if that were capable of somehow describing reality, when it almost certainly isn’t, so we add prepositions conjunctions subjunctive moods and imperfect tenses, when all we really need to do is sit down and shut up, eat the next meal and then enjoy the view, with scarce language needed to describe it but even less to defile it, the vibrations resolved into various frequencies sufficient to excite sensations, with or without the need of mechanical waves capable of transporting objects from place to place, the definition of our existence best left to the prime movers and heavy lifters and various mechanisms for the transformation of noble metals, when all that is really necessary for spiritual existence is the light of intelligence given in a flash from above, still we default to language like an addict to his pipe, for lack of more convenient options and the desire for familiar landscapes, words sentenced to paragraphs like prisoners to cages, so that it’s almost an afterthought that almost anything that can be said can also be negated, and only then can a further synthesis result, hopefully higher…

     
  • hardie karges 12:11 pm on March 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , language, ,   

    More on Meditation and Language, and the Prison of our Own Minds… 

    Meditation is the best medicine; twice a day keeps the doctor away. And I think that is accurate, even though the causes and effects may be debated endlessly, at least partly owing to differences in definition to begin with. Is it ‘concentration’, probably the most common translation of the Sanskrit word that is usually transcribed into the Roman alphabet as ‘samadhi’ (give or take a few palatal and labial signs for consonants, and long and short vowels for the adepts)? And then there are other Sanskrit-based words, such as ‘dhyana’, maybe implying something closer to ‘trance’ than ‘concentration’, not to mention ‘bhavana’, referring to something like ‘development’, or ‘patipatti’, the ‘practice’, of whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. And that is the precisely the question, is it not, of just exactly what it is we’re supposed to be doing, as we sit cross-legged on the floor, as so brilliantly evoked in the band Chicago’s classic ’25 or 6 to 4′ (please don’t ask me what that means)? Well, I think the Buddha and others pretty much had it figured out way back when, but when the Americans and New Agers got hold of it, now all of a sudden you need an ‘app’ and you need someone’s soothing words to guide you through the beauty of it all, and pseudo/sorta/secular Buddhists explain that skateboarding is just another form of meditation, when what you really need to do is just sit down and STFU, in my humble opinion. Because language is the problem, not the solution, in this case, that quantum leap of linguistic consciousness 50,000 years ago that doomed the Neanderthals and Denisovans and a couple other smaller homos to oblivion now embedded in our minds as the preferred method of thinking, rational and syllogistic, such that other forms of thinking, visual or intuitive, are relegated to second-class status. And while this may be perfect for the strategic advantage necessary for the conquest and ultimate extinction of those pesky other hominids, it wraps us individually in feedback loops of language, and may ultimately be the inspiration for that kind of karma that we can never really shake. To ‘stop the internal dialogue’ was the lasting gist for me of Castaneda’s tales of Yanqui (:-) power as well as the goal of more than one neurologist measuring the motions of mind on an MRI scan. Because this is what meditation can do for you, if only for a moment, if only for an hour. It can allow the mind, whatever that is, to function without language, i.e. paleo-consciousness, pre-verbal, non-consonantal. It certainly beats argument. And if that makes me a cheater, dodging a fight rather than ‘standing my ground’, then so be it. Most fights have no winners, only losers. Because people say mean nasty ugly words sometimes, and seem to enjoy it, for some reason. I don’t know why, but at least now I know how to shut it off, and shut it out…

     
  • hardie karges 12:59 pm on February 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , language, ,   

    Buddhist Meditation: Feedom from the Fetters of Language, and the Defilements of Money… 

    Money is the square root of all evil; kindness is the reward for all kindness. And this is more than just idle word-play, and linguistic sleight-of-hand, because it goes straight to the heart of the nature of our system of rewards and punishments, whether there truly is something like ‘currency’ that can mediate between the world and our bottomless pit of desires or whether that is something dark and unknown that is forever fated to lurk hidden and unseen, only to rise and strike with the suddenness of synchronous sensation, as if the fate of all time and space lay in the simultaneous conjunction of desire and object, self and the world, subject predicating objects with apparent prepositioning and with only scant adverbial regard for the adjectival implications. So money is a poor substitute for language as the medium of our interplay with nature, and language itself is flawed enough to begin with. But such is the world that we live in, our humanness now defined by language, and our lives now defiled by money. Ironically there seems to be a path forward with money, with the advent of technology, such that instead of physically dealing with money itself, we can simply click ‘Pay Now’ on the digital screen and numbers change locations in a way that either harms us or hurts us, while physical objects may also change locations in a roughly parallel way, unless we’re talking about books, in which case I’ll just read them all right here, thank you, at least fifty in the last two years from the beginnings of written time to the latest screed from self-described scribes, and I’ve not touched paper even once. But I hope that Buddhist monks have not succumbed to the temptation to click ‘Buy Now’, while at the same time they are forbidden to touch physical cash, thus subverting the intent, if not the letter of the dharma. Call me old-fashioned, but the problem goes deeper than all that, in that we feel the necessity to mediate ourselves (non-selves) through symbols and time-stamps, when life is still arguably at its best when not mediated at all. And that means getting rid of language, too, at last for a while, at least a little bit, hopefully every day, if not every hour, on the hour. And that means meditation, at its finest, proto-consciousness, unmediated by language, or God forbid money, when all that is needed is conscious awareness and lack of desire for anything else, for as long as that moment can last. For the best moments are not moments at all, but conscious continuums of unfettered awareness. And that is the challenge in this world of unrighteous debate, we standing our ground, until death do us part, older and hopefully wiser. There’s too much talk, not enough inaction…

     
  • hardie karges 7:07 am on September 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Chicago Manual of Style, , language, , , subconscious   

    The Enemy Within Is Still My Friend–Language… 

    There is too much talk, opinions comments narratives predictions screams shouts expletives yada yada, but not enough: silence, blessed silence. And this is symptomatic of the problems in our modern world, form over content, not that there is much good here and now, or not, or that there are things wrong here and now, or not, but that there is simply too much, here and now, of everything, particularly the medium itself, language and its facilitators, vowels consonants dots and strokes, verbs nouns subjects and predicates, adjectives adverbs prepositions and objects both direct and indirect, indicating questioning exclaiming enjoining and subjoining, actively or passively, conditionally or hypothetically, all pointing to the obvious conclusion, that our most brilliant invention is now working against us, for reasons unknown, and perhaps best unexplained, that once language gets in the vast unprotected subconscious mind, such as it is, that it will erect walls and barriers with doors and windows, in an attempt to create order out of disorder, paleo-consciousness, sweet blessed disorder, prime and pristine, and unpolluted by language, such that the real danger in our lives is obscured in the process–eat or be eaten, escape the cold or freeze, and take care of those who take care of you. Language only cares about itself, happy endings and the dictates of the Chicago Manual of Style. That is all well and good, or bad, but non-essential to the business of life and possibly its greatest obstacle to happiness. That is why we meditate, is it not–to stop the internal dialogue, at least for a few minutes? Don Juan the eagle’s shaman said it best, if not first (that’s the Buddha and his buddies), and the most adept among us can sustain it for hours, floating unattached in the ether, or stuck inside a long dark hole. Choose your best metaphor, because it will surely fail. The most important things in life are beyond language. This world and this life have great beauty, but ugliness, too. Best to not get too attached to either…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 3:28 pm on October 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Words never enough, of course, though I admire your determination to get behind them. Helpful writings for sure!

  • hardie karges 4:40 pm on August 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , changes, , , language,   

    Buddhism, Genetics and the Book of Ch-ch-ch-changes… 

    Meditation is the best medicine. Laughter is the best lozenge. Peace is the best pill. Imbibe at will. Chemical solutions are faulty; of that there is no doubt. And any material acquisitions can not be embedded genetically, for this generation or any future one, for oneself or any other, whether any sort of rebirth may magically exist or not. Environment may very well affect genetics, and genetics may very well affect environment, but that still doesn’t imply Lamarckian inheritance of acquired characteristics. Genetics is hard-wired, but that, too, is changeable, and often. Culture is fleeting, and that is nothing but change, environment, fashion, embedded in language and cast to the winds of history, for better or worse, a message in a bottle. Sabbe dhamma anicca = all phenomena are changing, right before our eyes, no matter whether truth or lies, because such distinctions don’t exist, only appearances. Genetics and language play FTSE with nature, as if it were something external, eternal and everlasting. But some things can stand the test of time, trials and tribulations, and a thousand other clichés specifically adopted as a shortcut to feeling, which language can only approximate, culture can only insinuate, and genetics can only suckle. Because true friendship, metta, is a rare and sacred thlng: beyond all the jokes, afta the lafta…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 2:50 pm on August 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I like the poetic turn your writing takes here – wondered if you’d thought about adopting poetic form. I was also interested in this:-

      Environment may very well affect genetics, and genetics may very well affect environment, but that still doesn’t imply Lamarckian inheritance of acquired characteristics. Genetics is hard-wired, but that, too, is changeable, and often. Culture is fleeting …

      Nevertheless, we haven’t evolved physically for a very long time, haven’t needed to, because culture clothes and dresses us. Perhaps evolution is cultural now. In which case, one could still say … whoops!

    • hardie karges 3:39 pm on August 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Genetics has exploded the last five years, check out haplogroups if you haven’t yet, especially y-DNA, currently re-writing prehistory. But most of our evolution these days is cultural; that’s true.

      By poetic form, you mean line breaks? Actually that has occurred to me also, so even laid this one out that way first, looked at it, then said ‘naah’. But I might do it next time, thanx to your input, definitely my current mode, good catharsis ( I think that’s the word I want, not sure) to my current MA thesis, which is straight essay, so need a break from it once a week or so. Thanx for your comments, always a pleasure…

  • hardie karges 9:47 pm on May 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Dylan, Illusion, language, , , , , significance   

    Maya, Illusion, and the Ruminations of the Buddha’s Barber… 

    Life has no meaning but that which we give it. We are the significance monkeys. We are the meaning monkeys. We are the monkeys hooked on happy endings and the agreement of subject and object. We are monkeys in love with our languages and out literature and our lust for languor, long slow baths and a reason to laugh, castles in the air and castles made of sand, visions of Johanna in the palms of our hands. We spin a lump of sugar into cotton-candy daydreams, and live out our lives in opposition to the obvious, that we are lumps of stuff pressed into the service of human hubris. We create concepts and precepts and conclusions with antecedents. But just because you can imagine something doesn’t mean that it’s real. And that’s one of life’s lessons, the difference between reality and fantasy, a sliding scale of solidity…

     
  • hardie karges 7:42 am on January 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , language, , metaphysical, , , , , universe   

    Buddhism 202: Does Mind = Self = Soul ? 

    IMG_2747Yes, I’m talking about that theoretical ghost in each of our machines. So the first time a human being saw his reflection in still water must have been incredible, our hero unbelieving, disbelieving, unsure if what’s he’s seeing is really him, himself, and so now aware of self, for maybe the first time, previously only aware of everything other…

    Now whether our hero had language at this point is unknown, but whatever it was, it probably wasn’t much, bunch o’ nouns and maybe a few verbs, an adjective or two like special sauce, maybe even an adverb for a side garnish. But our hero must’ve looked like Groucho Marx, sans cigar, or maybe even Marcel Marceau, bluffing and feinting and miming himself in the mirror, trying to test whether it’s really real or not… (More …)

     
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