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  • hardie karges 10:24 am on February 5, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Graeber, , John Locke, Kadiaronk, language, , , , Wengrow   

    Buddhism, Craving, and the Path to Enlightenment… 

    When you realize that you and your cravings are the cause of most of your problems, then you are on the path to enlightenment. And that’s the Second Noble Truth, more or less, so fundamental to the practice of Buddhism. After all, most Buddhists worldwide don’t meditate, and many physically can’t, but anyone can train their mind. That’s the heart of the Buddha’s original message, not rebirth, past lives, or even emptiness. Control yourself, and not only will the world be a better place, but you will be a better person.

    But there’s that ugly word ‘control’ again, the same word and concept which cause so much consternation among us Westerners for whom freedom is sacrosanct, and for whom control is the enemy. And that may be fine for the wide-open skies of Montana, but that might not work in all situations. Because, like it or not (I don’t especially like it), the world is becoming a crowded place, and the paradigms of a previous era may not all be appropriate now.

    Whether we take our cues from John Locke or the now-famous Native American scholar Kadiaronk, immortalized in The Dawn of Everything, by Wengrow and Graeber, the result is the same: a freedom is best understood by its limits—by definition. Most importantly, though, is the difference between self-control and control of others. This is where politics meets philosophy, and we find our place in the universe. Then there’s also that word ‘enlightenment’ again, which implies a duality between darkness and light despite any objective standard of reference.

    And that’s the word often revered to the same extent that control is reviled, but not always. Because words themselves can be as dangerous as their deliverance, and seldom do they live up to our expectations. But once they became our operating system, then so it will be until we find something better. Because, ultimately, language is just the interface, and there are more important things to be accomplished. When you realize that your worst curse just might be your greatest blessing, then you are on the path to enlightenment…

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  • hardie karges 1:34 pm on December 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , language, , , samathi,   

    Buddhism and the Bearable Lightness of Being 

    Be more like the water, more like the air, and less like the humans, obsessed with their opinions. And by this, I don’t mean to imply that we should all be ‘air-heads’ or anything else that might seem less than human or beneath our dignity. I only mean to imply that flexibility is good, and that lightness is good, i.e. the lightness of being, being without baggage, the baggage of language, which, if used properly and creatively, is one of the most beautiful things in the world.

    BUT… When used for maleficent purposes, language can be truly evil, SO… sometimes it’s better just to do without, don’t you think? Which moves us back to the subject of meditation: what it is, what it does, and how to benefit from it. Everything in Buddhism eventually comes back to meditation, if it’s done right, because that was always its chief selling point, despite all the sharper points of karma and dogma.

    People wonder why Buddhism was so well and easily accepted in China in the first millennium of the Common Era, when Taoism was already there, and when Taoism is so similar. Well, it’s often assumed that Taoism influenced Buddhism, so as to create a Buddhism “with Chinese characteristics,” haha, but it’s just as likely—or more so—that Buddhism influenced a nascent Taoism to make it what it is today.

    Either way, the critical difference would be the meditation technique which defined Buddhism long before the Brahmins started promoting karma as the definition of Buddhism, in order to enhance their own superior position. Remember that the Japanese word ‘Zen’ comes from the Chinese word ‘Chan’ which comes from the Sanskrit word ‘dhyana’ which means something like ‘meditative absorption’ or ‘deep meditation’ in Sanskrit, to distinguish it from the ordinary ‘concentration’ which is also a definition of the Sanskrit/Pali word ‘samathi.’ That’s my take on the subject, anyway. Merry Christmas.

     
    • Tiramit 10:14 pm on December 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply

      Thus, it is what it is. I like your take on the subject anyway and Merry Christmas to you too!

  • hardie karges 9:29 am on November 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , language   

    Good Karma: the Gift that Keeps on Giving… 

    Good karma occurs every day that you make a donation and someone benefits from it besides yourself. If you benefit from a gift, then there is another word for that: business, transaction, you name it. But the word ‘karma’ itself means ‘action,’ and so we Westerners have our own version of this admonition: ‘Actions speak louder than words,’ and so they do. But the word generally has a negative connotation, i.e. ‘bad karma,’ or something like cruel fate. So, what we want, then, is good karma, which necessitates good actions, and which has a connotation similar to ‘good luck.’

    For me, I’ve detected at least two different extant forms of karma as practiced in Buddhism, probably best exemplified by the Tibetan and Theravada forms, but which I tend to think of as ‘heavy’ and ‘lite,’ in order to avoid strict definitions and casual dismissals. Because I respect all forms of Buddhism, even if I personally prefer a mix of the original Theravada and the most recent secular, so something like the original ascetic discipline combined with the latest scientific knowledge, anything but silly superstition.

    The heavy karma version, best exemplified by Tibetan Buddhism, follows you around like some entity counting your transgressions, ready to give your performance a score which will determine whether you escape the wheels of samsara and rebirth to find a place in some better world, or whether you will ultimately be reborn to go another round in this hellscape. Now I won’t go into the ironies of the differing Eastern and Western approaches to Heaven and Hell. Suffice it to say that for me, this is beyond the bounds of science, so holds little sway in my life choices.   

    For me the important thing is to give, of your (non) self, your time, and of course: your money, because this is nothing if not a green imperfect world, far in concept from the perfect world of pure white light, as we imagine it. And if that seems like making a deal with the devil, then so be it. At least it’s a devil we know. But time is of the essence. To wait until the ‘time is right’ is often to miss the point entirely: time is an imperfect dimension, as are they all, and the human dimension especially so. We’re afflicted with disease, old age, poverty, and death, but these are conditions which can be mitigated. Give. It’s good karma.

     
  • hardie karges 12:06 pm on November 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , consumption, , , , language, , ,   

    Buddhism and Survival of the Species 

    Buddhism is more than just a religion or philosophy. It is a method for planetary survival, and that’s why we’re here right now. Because I care about planetary survival, and I hope that you do, too. And by ‘planet,’ I specifically mean the human race, since I have no doubt that the rock itself can continue to provide for itself, regardless of whether humans had ever shown up to sully the mix. But we are like DNA, and DNA is like language, and so we must cross our T’s and dot our I’s and make sense of random mutations.

    As soon as our survival was assured, we humans set about killing each other. And the coincidence of this with the invention of language may have not been so coincidental at all. Thus, once adopted, language has somehow become intrinsic to our existence, and so it is necessary to make our peace with it. Buddhism is famous for meditation, of course, and so that is one way of dealing with language, by losing it—powerful. Because for all the rap about insight, mindfulness, and ‘calm abiding,’ the one thing common to all meditation is silence. Guided meditation is something else.

    Christianity was fine when the human race was still young, and the need to breed was still arguably extant. But with eight billion people (and counting), the passion of Christ has long since been replaced by the passion of mice, breeding like rabbits and eating like wolves. This is not what the world needs right now. We’re a successful species, unless we continue to kill ourselves. I don’t think a species has ever gone extinct by mass suicide. But we could become the first, regardless of stated intents. Buddhism is one way to resolve this issue favorably, by choosing inner peace over mass consumption…

     
  • hardie karges 9:13 am on September 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , language, , , , ,   

    Buddhism and the Nature of Self/Not-Self… 

    The notion of self is a linguistic convenience. But language is not reality. And this is one of the debates in Buddhism, of course, not so much the exact nature of ‘self,’ which is proscribed in Buddhism (with an ‘o,’ not ‘e’), but more the exact nature of ‘not-self,’ or ‘no-self,’ that distinction itself often at the crux of the debate, as if there were any real difference, as if it really mattered. Because what matters is that this is not the Hindu cosmic self nor the Christian eternal self, both of which are not what the Buddha envisioned for his group of followers and his emerging view of the world.

    But what exactly did he envision for the self? Not much, apparently. Best guesses are the (s)khandhas, or ‘heaps’ of causes and conditions that he enumerated to constitute the typical person sans persona that is typically referred to, though many modern Buddhists like to wax long and hard on the ego and ensuing egolessness that would obviously result from that starting point. But our concept of ‘ego’ is so tied to Freud’s concept of id, ego, and superego that it may be misleading. Because I’m sure that the Buddha had no such wild notions.

    The Freudian ego also makes the same mistake that the Buddha was trying to solve, positing self as a thing, or something, anyway, which is an independent actor on an ever-shifting stage, when the actions themselves were much more important, as modern psychology now acknowledges the behavior, rather than some elaborate tripartite self, so like verbs not nouns. The Buddha might even go a step farther and see the composite self as a collection of adjectives, thus tendencies to act, not even dignified by the actions themselves.

    I’m sure that he had our modern notion of selfishness in mind, though, so we have that much in common, what with his obsessions with craving and desire. And that’s where Buddhism has much to say about our modern consumeristic economies and lifestyles to the point that ‘stuff’ becomes the meaning of our lives. This is a trap, of course, and a never-ending cycle of unfulfillment. After all, how can things satisfy us if we ourselves are essentially non-things? Sometimes the world is too much with us. Even the Buddha and Wordsworth could agree on that. The Buddha called it samsara….

     
  • hardie karges 8:33 am on July 31, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , language, Magi, magic, , ,   

    Buddhism 498: Emptiness is the Path to Infinity 

    If you’re doing it right, then one day a sense of calmness will come over you, as the zeroes take over, and the fractions become less, a mind divided unable to reproduce itself properly, and the ensuing life even less. Because language knows no natural limit, and so will run on until stopped, vowels and consonants forming verbs and nouns like chickens and eggs, and no one knows which came first, since no one was taking notes in a class too crowded for convenience and too full for breath…

    But people wonder why meditate, since there’s so little time and so little space, that to waste any extra must certainly be counter-intuitive, but, in reality, the exact opposite is the case. Because meditation creates more time and more space in the process of killing it, such that if you really want to experience infinity, then the only way to do that is with emptiness.

    Because infinity cannot exist full of stuff, and that is fundamental to the concept, and who would want it anyway, except a kid at Christmas before the sun’s even up, learning the false lesson of abundance under the magic of the Magi, who got lost on the way to Bethlehem, but couldn’t see any reason to let a good story go to waste? So, a kid in a manger becomes the unlikely savior of humanity, when all we really wanted was a full belly and an empty mind, empty of hate and anger, with Big Ideas optional.

    But we can do that on command with a little silence and a lot of discipline, let the confusion die down and out, and be reborn in spirit every hour of every day with a little self-control and a lot of kindness, creating a world of forgiveness and reconciliation, instead of aggression and competition, for access to scarce resources, to create even more, when the obvious answer is to first consume even less. And that is the difference between Buddhism and Christianity, to consume less or produce more, when the truth lies somewhere in between.

     
  • hardie karges 11:44 am on July 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , id, , language, , , ,   

    Buddhism 101: Anger is a Warning Sign of Impending Danger… 

    Anger is like a lying dog, that, when provoked, rises up in consciousness, and strikes the nearest hand that most recently fed it. Because it’s blind, and usually vicious, hatefulness optional, and it infects everything it touches, anger does. But it’s not always so easy to recognize, because it comes in many forms, most often in concert with hatred, true, but equally conversant with deception and denigration and the other delusions of sense perception, always a prime source of suffering, no matter the particular place and time in question…

    And then there is the other ‘poison’ of Buddhism, besides hatred and delusion, which is greed, or sensual desire, with which anger is also often associated. But sometimes the symptom is worse than the disease, and this could often be one of those cases, in which the anger is worse than the moha, raga, or dvesha itself. These are also variously known as the Three Unwholesome Roots and the Three Kileshas, which are also available in a convenient Five-Pack for serious abusers, but who’s counting?

    Still, it all counts as demerit in a lifestyle that prides itself on making merit, and doing good, and so worth making a sea change in order to avoid the choppy waves, right? But that gets into issues of global warming and rising sea levels, when simply wearing a life jacket and learning how to swim might accomplish much the same thing in a much shorter amount of time. Why get a brain operation if a pill can cure the headache? That’s what I want to know.

    Hatred, delusion, and greedy attachments can take a lifetime to cease, overcome, or even diminish, much less cure, though, so in the meantime please do us all a favor and control your anger, okay? It becomes you. And there are many American Buddhist ‘teachers’ who might disagree with that, but they may not be so smart, after all, since they often look to Freud and Jung, rather than Buddha, for inspiration, as if the notion of superego were somehow scientific and Freud’s ego were what the Buddha was really talking about in denouncing the Brahmanistic cosmic atta/atman. It wasn’t. So, let go of all anger, the sooner the better. It sucks.

     
  • hardie karges 1:42 pm on July 10, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: antithesis, , , , , , language, , , , , synthesis, , thesis,   

    Buddhism in the Bardo: the Language of Dialectic and the Silence of Meditation… 

    Language cannot solve the problems that language creates. Only silence can do that. This is one of those inherent little foundations of Buddhism, also, like non-aggression and the limits to fulfillment, that often get lost in the shuffle of rebirth, karma, and the endless choices of past lives. But that is the essence of philosophy, and religion, to find some reason to live, without expending too much time and energy in the process, and so often that involves divine intervention—or magic…

    And that’s where Buddhism tried to be different, at least in the beginning, though the pressure to spice things up is almost irresistible, and so Buddhism was not so much different. Like Christianity a few hundred years later, it started with basic precepts, or commandments, and proceeded from that humble starting point. And to be honest, the starting points of Buddhism and Christianity were not so much different in their original conceptions.

    Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat: the basic precepts were very similar in the Abrahamic religions of the Mideast and the Dharmic religions of India. They weren’t that far apart, really, geographically or conceptually, so that may be more than a coincidence. Considering the Aryan migration eastward, also, now proven genetically, the ‘meeting of East and West’ may not have been much more than a meeting at the most convenient location, rather than some journey that required Marco Polos, Fa Hians, and Ibn Battutahs to accomplish, though they did that, too…  

    But Buddhism went through much more of a dialectical process of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, over the course of its 2500 years, something implied if not intended, in its mantra of the Middle Path between extremes, so that the three major schools of Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana can be seen in precisely that light, something like discipline and devotion having babies, and calling it Dharma. But at the core of them all was always meditation, and that was silent. Christianity still hasn’t learned that trick. Maybe one day they will.

     
  • hardie karges 10:39 am on July 3, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: awareness, , language, , , , smrti   

    Buddhist Mindfulness is more than Mind Fun… 

    As a practical matter ‘mindfulness’ is probably best described as ‘awareness,’ conscious deliberate thought, one thing at the time, not ‘monkey mind,’ i.e. not mindlessness. That’s a direct translation of the Pali word sati, Sanskrit smrti, from which the associated terms originally derive. Despite the parody of ‘McMindfulness,’ it’s sometimes nice to have an almost strictly Buddhist term to stand alone on its own, even if it’s almost equally a curse.

    Because this is where the common sense often ends and the superstitions begin, the minute that you shift away from the common-sense definition and toward one that seems to carry meaning beyond which that was originally intended. But that’s what religion often does, for reasons good or bad, depending on your outlook and orientation. But just because we can give names to certain mental states and conditions doesn’t mean that they actually exist, just because we thought it so. This is one of the problems of language.

    Still, we all know what it means to ‘lose consciousness,’ and that’s exactly what it means to lose ‘sati’ in at least a couple of modern SE Asian languages. Conversely to be conscious, small letter ‘c,’ is exactly what it means to ‘have’ sati in those same languages. I think that it’s good to know that, to know that ‘mindfulness’ was never originally intended as some transcendental transect or shortcut toward bliss, but a normal state that has always been healthy and desirable.

    Because that is the ultimate goal of Buddhism: little ‘b’ bliss, aka ‘happiness,’ alive and awake and oriented toward the simple goals of health and wholesomeness. If some people think it’s negative, that’s only in relationship to Christianity with its half-full cup always overflowing, while Buddhism acknowledges straight-up that we’re all gonna’ die, ain’t no ‘ifs,’ ‘ands,’ ‘buts,’ nor ‘whys.’

    That simple difference means that Buddhism is yer better bet in the fights against Global Warming and poverty, since, if there’s less that runneth over, then there’s more to go around. I’d say that’s a helluva deal, no extra charge for the ‘to go’ cup, haha. And that’s what we really want, isn’t it, a solution to some real-life problems in the real world of beauty and imperfection? Of course, it is…

     
  • hardie karges 10:31 am on June 5, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , language, , , MS_DOS, , , Visual Basic   

    Meditation and Mediation, the Twin Foundations of Buddhism 

    Buddhism in Bhutan

    If you need a reason to meditate, then maybe that’s not really meditation. Meditation neither gives nor responds to demands. It simply IS. To be honest I probably think of it as a system re-boot more than anything else, that row of zeroes at the end of a really big number, that means that a dot will soon come, and then things will begin all over again on the other side of some line. Meditation is the dot between the two zeroes. The zeroes represent emptiness, of course, aka shunyata…

    There are all different flavors of meditation, supposedly, according to all the books and the writers, but they all tend to get back to basics, concentration on something, or everything, or nothing. But for me they all represent that same re-boot, a return to primordial pre-linguistic thought, if only for a few moments. Because once we think in a language, we never really go back. It’s simply not possible. But a new language could substitute for the old, just like Visual Basic took over where MS-DOS left off.

    Could humans ever function with a non-linguistic operating system? Of course, because we once did. And then the invention of language (or the manifestation of that instinct, for you Chomskyites) was probably the biggest revolution in the history of mankind. Just ask the Neanderthals, if you’re lucky enough to have some of their DNA. They disappeared as a species shortly after the appearance of language in Homo sapiens, hint hint.

    Ironically, they had all the same hardware and software for language themselves. Apparently, they “just didn’t have much to say.” (Spencer Wells). But that’s not our problem. Our problem is that we have too much to say, and not enough time to say it. So, we race to the finish line, shooting our mouths off and writing the Great American novel ad infinitum, whether anyone wants to read it or not. Meditation can help with that. The only app you need is silence. Mediation? That’s the Middle Path between extremes…

     
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