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

    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 9:09 am on September 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Carlos Castaneda, , , , Gardenm of Eden, , language, ,   

    Buddhism: The Limits of Language and the Benefits of Meditation 

    The wisest person has the mind of a child, always open, always learning, with no preconceptions, and higher advanced concepts optional. It almost seems like we spend the first half of our lives cluttering up our minds with useless nonsense, and then spend the second half of our lives trying to undo all that. Ha! But language is like that, isn’t it? Once we invented it, then we made it part of our central conscious operating system, as if nothing could be more natural. Could it have been any other way? Was the invention of language merely an accident? It’s debatable. Could we have made a decision to keep it as a plaything but reject its centrality in our conscious interface with reality?

    The experience of our modern computerized world would indicate that once we have a new language, then not only will we certainly use it, but it will spread like a virus within us, restless and hungry, assuming a centralized position with our process of consciousness and expanding as rapidly as it can. It almost sounds like a business, ha! But mostly it sounds like DNA. And that is why anthropolinguistics was once so crucial to the study of prehistory prior to the advent of DNA genomics. Because language also mutates and so leaves ‘markers’ along its historic path, all of which can be coordinated chronologically, just like non-recombinant y-DNA and mt-DNA do…

    But what’s good for business and cultural evolution are not necessarily what’s good for healthy human psychology. And so, we meditate, to reverse that very process that is so profitable for our wallets and dangerous for our enemies. For it is no accident that the remaining hominid species besides our own disappeared soon after our acquisition of language. And so the prime purpose of meditation is to stop the internal dialogue, if only for a second, or a few minutes, or an hour, or a lifetime. When I discussed meditation with some neurological researchers, that’s the first question they asked: “Can you stop the internal dialogue?” That’s the main point that I can remember of Carlos Castañeda’s Don Juan character, also, in his ‘Tales of Yaqui Power,’ etc…

    Is language the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden? Maybe. The analogy would seem to hold, not that good and evil are really on offer, but the fallacious and pretentious knowledge of such is always a temptation, and forever destined to fail. With language we are suddenly faced with a duality of mind and body, one doing all the talking and the other a captive audience. We externalize the dialogue to turn all that brilliance and perspicacity loose on the world, but with mixed results. It seems that language creates more problems than it can solve and resolve. And so we meditate. The mind is a minefield, enmeshed in views. Sometimes it’s simply better to forego thought, or at least language…

     
  • hardie karges 10:44 am on August 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alexander the Great, , , , , , Hindi, , language, , , , , , , , shaman, , , , , Yaqui   

    Buddhist Metta-tation, Friendship Beyond Thought, Language Optional… 

    The truest love is metta, friendship, without all the burdens of possession. That’s Buddhist love, of course, without all the weeping, wailing, and the gnashing of teeth. The Pali word metta often gets written up as ‘lovingkindness’ by latter-day Buddhists, mostly American, who want the passion that term implies, but the Buddha likely intended nothing of the sort. That’s a Christian term, too, from the Hebrew chesed, with a heavy dose of devotion implied, but the Buddha seemed to intend none of that, and the word’s presence in many other Asian languages of the time reflects none of it, either.

    So ‘lovingkindness’ would seem to come from a totally different line of descent by genome. Culture is not genome, though, of course, though they often parallel one another, and the ‘Judeo-Christian’ tradition seems to reflect that. So, we Westerners tend to be emotion junkies, even when that emotion is not necessarily a pleasant one. We are implored to embrace suffering, by that logic, even though suffering implies pain, and the heavy dose of sadness that often brings. The fact that the Pali word dukkha means ‘suffering’ and the related word dukhee means ‘sadness’ in modern Hindi would seem to reflect that range of intent.

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  • hardie karges 11:24 am on July 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , inanition, , language, , , , secular Buddhism, , ,   

    The Rocky Middle Path of Buddhism in America… 

    “Give me liberty or give me death” is America’s battle cry for independence, of course, as so brilliantly elucidated by Patrick Henry, and seconded by many others, notably the license plate slogan ‘Live Free or Die,’ among many others of similar emotion. And by ‘America’ I mean the USA, not the lower 40, though they are largely complicit, as is Europe the mother country, in the case of North America, which lacks the large indigenous base of many of the other more southern countries. Even Mexico is around 65% indigenous the last time I checked.

    And freedom is all well and good, as long as we know the details of the liberties and freedoms referred to, but which can be detrimental, and even deadly, if left for imaginations to run wild and machinations to double down in derailing the original intent of a simple life without a lord and master to serve at every beck and call. So now we consider mask-lessness as an inalienable right, even during a pandemic, ditto vaccines, and any restriction on movement during the same world emergency to be a violation. So the Western insistence on freedom to the maximum extent comes very close to an implicit death wish.

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  • hardie karges 8:36 am on July 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , language, , , , , , ,   

    Musings on the Buddhist Concept of Shunyata: Emptiness Ain’t So Empty… 

    Stephen Hawking was famous for saying that ‘Black holes ain’t so black,’ and so the title here is more than a little bit coincidental, and in fact quite intentional, because the meanings of the two concepts—black holes and ‘shunyata’—are quite similar. Because if the Buddhist concept of ‘shunyata’ is usually translated as ‘emptiness,’ then that is by an English layman’s choice, and is not necessarily the best choice. And if that choice supposes that Buddhism is nihilistic, and that life is meaningless, then nothing could be further from the truth.

    For Buddhism, and Indian philosophy in general, in fact has a long rich and varied history, and every bit the equal of its Greek counterpart on the other side of the great divide between East and West, even if the former is perhaps more spiritual and the latter more materialistic. But they share much common ground for thought, and this is probably no accident, considering that they both shared the northern steppes for a few thousand years and probably shared a few long discussions and debates before blazing campfires, in a proto-Indo-European language, before going their separate ways some 6-8000 years ago.

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  • hardie karges 12:26 pm on April 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brahmanism, , Carvakas, cosmological constant, , Gosala, , , language, 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 9:29 am on January 31, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , language   

    Buddhism and the Industrial Revolution: Aftermath… 

    Don’t begrudge anyone their success. Their success is your success. We are all one people. We all know that, of course. But saying it and practicing it are two different things. And competition is fierce, especially when you’ve been raised that way from birth, as most of us Westerners, European-descended, have been raised.

    I don’t know why that is the case, probably some combination of capitalism, Christianity, and democracy, but the reality may be a little bit more nuanced than that. In fact it may even be such a recent event that the results of it are not even fully known yet, a phenomenon associated with the Industrial Revolution, the effects of which are still upon us. Don’t believe the textbook narrative that the Industrial Revolution occurred in the mid-1700’s in England. The Industrial Revolution is now—right now.

    And the results are as devastating as they are inspiring. Sure we’ve got multiple methods of travel to multiple places in the universe, but we’ve also got Global Warming, Dickensian poverty, the Enclosure Acts which dispossessed peasants of their ancestral rights to land, and now a devastating narcotics problem, largely born of the necessity of dealing with the dispossession and loss of our connection to Nature.

    Thus we stand at the crossroads, of history and consciousness. History will certainly go in a direction heretofore yet unimagined, and consciousness will certainly go with it hand-in-hand, no certain clue as to which is cause and which is effect. And if that much is certain, little else is. We are such a young species that anything can happen, and likely will.

    And this has happened over and over in the course of history and evolution, but I seriously doubt that any one species has ever been so responsible—or not—for its own destiny. Usually these things, i.e. evolution, happen in what seems to be a random impersonal manner, in which the best that can usually be said is something like, “Evolution favors smaller adaptable units,” we being the units, of course, usually devoid of consciousness.

    The invention, or evolution, if you prefer, of language, 50k years ago, seems to have changed all that. I can’t imagine what other invention would have had such an effect. So here we are, featherless bipeds possessed of language, and fully conscious of what the worst can be. But can we control our own worst impulses?

    Can we make decisions that will give sustainability to our species? These questions remain to be answered. But it will not occur with backbiting and unnecessary wars. Buddhism is all about teaching men to be more like women: more caring and less violent, and that is what I’m here to promote. Walk softly through this life and this world Make no enemies. Leave no trash.

     
  • 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…

     
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