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  • hardie karges 7:05 am on April 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , lovingkindness, , , ,   

    Buddhist Metta in the Age of Social Media… 

    Metta is simple and one of the cornerstones of Buddhism: friendship, simple friendship. Or call it ‘loving-kindness’ if that reconciles you with the Hebrew chesed of your Judeo-Christian tradition. Just note that it is not the passion that is usually associated with Christian ‘loving-kindness,’ not even the passionate embrace of a mother and her child. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it’s not necessary. What’s necessary is that the child not experience fear and anger and other defilements and afflictions.

    But we Westerners, particularly Americans, are raised on a diet of emotional cocktails, roller-coasters and built-in toasters, speeding up and then putting on brakes, heating up and then cooling our feet, such that life is nothing but one vast mood swing, which we must then ‘shrink’ by repeated visits to the therapist of our choice. To be a ‘bad-ass’ is a compliment in the US of A, and it shows in our interactions with the world. We fight our enemies to the death on battlefields, while never questioning the enemy within.

    This is one reason why it’s so difficult for Americans to be good Buddhists. Because we look for enlightenment in dialogue and debate, rather than the silence that brilliantly illustrates Emptiness, if not strictly define it. Because we look for our meditation in the words of some endless rap from some best-selling app from the online app-store of one of the world’s richest men, rather than that same silence which the Buddha himself used, as do thousands of monks to this day.

    And whether those monks win or lose the debates that some “spiritual bad-asses” (actual quote) find so rewarding and illuminating is not important. What’s important is quieting the mind (i.e. consciousness) by the necessary hours of silent and still sitting that make life itself the only reward necessary for a rewarding existence. All the cars and bars and Hollywood stars on assorted sh*t-stained sidewalks are but illustrations in a magazine that most people can’t sit still long enough to actually read.

    Compared to these challenges, metta is a literal piece of cake, to be shared with friends on any given day, and maybe even twice on Sunday, or Christmas, or Easter. The world is our sangha, our community, and strangers are as much a part of that as family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. In fact, that can be its greatest reward, communion with strangers as if they were lifelong friends. You can’t know that pleasure until you test those waters. The first rule of friendship is to be friendly, simple. Smile. Happy Easter. Happy Buddhist New Year.

     
  • hardie karges 7:00 am on January 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Buddhism and the True Meaning of Love 

    ‘Falling in Love’ is all about attachment. True love is all about non-attachment. True love looks for soft spots to protect. Aggression looks for soft spots to attack, and attachment isn’t much better, by weakening that spot, even if not physically attacking. By ‘true love,’ of course, I’m talking about Buddhist metta, typically translated as ‘lovingkindness,’ if you’re Jewish or Christian, but that still preserves some passion, and suffering, so maybe better translated more like the Buddha himself probably intended, so something like ‘brotherly love’ or ‘sisterly love,’ as the case may be. To be clear, I think that being in a relationship is fine, sometimes wonderful, but it shouldn’t necessarily be based on the hysterical (no pun) madness of being ‘in love.’

    Score one for arranged marriages? I wouldn’t go that far. Exercising one’s innate free will, to whatever extent it exists, and despite all the limitations placed upon it, is all about what it is to be human. ‘Give me liberty or give me death’? Haha, once again, I probably wouldn’t go that far. Because true freedom is freedom FROM, not freedom TO, freedom from any and all the defilements that plague us, but not freedom to do anything we want, regardless of whom it hurts. And this is an important distinction. Kileshas are the Buddhist name for those defilements that destroy our humanity and reduce us once again to the animal world from which we’ve evolved.

    It’s funny, though, because often these defilements themselves come paired just like the pair-bonding couples that cause many of the problems in their quest for reproduction rights, in addition to other attachments and liens on property. Because jealousy and revenge are twin kileshas, just like hate and anger, one feeding off the other like two heads of a serpent striking, and best avoided. The great Buddhist dilemma, or tetralemma, is how to deal with aggression. Do you turn the other cheek? But no Christian really did that, did they? To live from sensation to sensation is to live like an animal. To follow dharma is to live like a human.

     
  • hardie karges 4:11 am on November 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Buddhism at the Crossroads: First Do no Harm… 

    ‘First do no harm’ is part of the Hippocratic Oath. It should also be part of the Buddhist Oath, or fundamental precepts. ‘Primum non nocere’ as later formulated, this is more than just a cute little saying. This is fundamental to Buddhist principles. Because there really is no call to action. If anything, the reality is almost the exact opposite. The cute aphorisms are numerous: ‘A wise man once said nothing.’ ‘Don’t just do something! Sit there!’ You get the idea. Buddhism is first and foremost a religion of renunciation, and that is a fact of history. Nothing can change that. Meditation is the practice of Buddhism, no matter your sect or sex.

    Other things do change, though, and Buddhism is an ongoing dialog and dialectic, which I think is good, for the most part, though, if it doesn’t Christianize Buddhism totally, haha. It goes both ways. There is Christian mindfulness now, also, just as there is Buddhist ‘lovingkindness.’ The world is getting small as populations grow and grow, and soon there will be no place to hide. Buddhism is made for an over-expansive world. It shows how to find peace within, even when there is little peace without. We are a young species and prone to failures. Time will only tell if we will eventually survive and thrive, now by doing less, rather than doing more. The hard stuff was easy. The easy stuff will be hard.

     
  • hardie karges 10:44 am on August 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alexander the Great, , , , , , Hindi, , , lovingkindness, , , , , , , 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 11:18 am on June 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Indus Valley, Kama Sutra, lovingkindness, Malcolm Gladwell, , , , , , , Vedantic,   

    Buddhist Sutra on Passion and Dispassion… 

    The one who can control himself, can control the world—his world…

    Now I make no secret of the fact that I don’t think that Buddhism is necessarily any better than any other religion, philosophy, or way of life. But it is the right one for the right time. And it is no accident that it took me more than half my life (and counting) to finally make the switch from an eclectic form of ersatz Christianity to an equally eclectic form of Buddhism, however much more authentic, I reckon. After all I never got my MA in Christian Studies, though I guess all my liberal arts courses and BA in philosophy is probably as much as that, if not more.

    But neither Buddhism nor Christianity exists in a vacuum, so what we get is a mix of the original intent in its original environment, full of causes and conditions, situations and circumstances, inspirations and misgivings, as combined with the mandates of the mandarins, the rulings of the rulers, the laws of the legislators and the cravings of the consumer. Caveat emptor. But the salient point is that both are but the metaphysical underpinnings and psychological overtones of something much larger, equally symbolic and patently manifest.

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  • hardie karges 11:07 am on August 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , lovingkindness, , ,   

    Buddhism and Love, True True love… 

    True love doesn’t grasp or cling. True love embraces all and claims nothing. But this is a huge subject, of course, and it’s always good to define your terms, if you expect to have any reasonable discussion, because the word lends itself to many different interpretations, not the least of which is the reproduction of the species, without which we wouldn’t be sitting here having this conversation…

    Birth, after all, is the origin of each and every individual, if not the species, even if the species is the one most at risk. But many people, especially we westerners, see love as something to be IN, i.e. IN LOVE, so something far above and beyond the simple act of reproduction, more like an entire dimension that swallows us up whole, only to hopefully be released on our word at the middle of our sentence with the ensuing prospects of good behavior. Good luck with that…

    Other languages even describe the same feeling as being lost, i.e. lost in love, so that hits the nail squarely on the head, now, doesn’t it? But that’s so Christian, the passion and the cross, even if the passion was originally suffering, and the cross is really a sword…

    But Buddhism has none of that, AFAIK, but plenty of friendship and brotherly love, and for sisters, too, forever enshrined in the concepts and words of ‘metta’ and ‘maitri’, in Pali and Sanskrit, respectively and respectfully, often translated as ‘lovingkindness’ for people of Euro extraction, even though that’s originally a translation of the Hebrew ‘(c)heced’, aka ‘covenant loyalty’, apparently, so same deal, once the Romans got romance, and put woman on a pedestal from which they could no longer work, only f*ck, then everyone else had to follow those patriarchs of fashion, even if ‘(c)heced’ originally and literally meant to bow oneself, namaste…

    But that’s all water under the bridge, because that was then and this is now, but Buddhism is still a way of life full of dispassion, literally, i.e. relief from suffering, or at least compassion, i.e. misery loves company. But Buddhist suffering, dukkha, does not have to be painful, not at all. It is simply an acknowledgement that you are going to die, and that you are not the center of the universe…

    Now I won’t say that the Hindus-for-hire who tell you that you are the center of the universe are lying, but simply that they are misinformed, as any scientist can attest. For, in the Buddha’s eyes, we are simply a heap of aggregates, so let’s say adjectives, not nouns, and certainly not eternal ones passing from life to life, notwithstanding the paradox of rebirth…

    But at least for this life in this world, we all have each other, and that is not so bad, once you stop and think about it, and once you broaden your circle of friends to include those with whom you may find more degrees of separation than you can account for in the memories of those who conveniently surround you. Racism sucks. Does the Universe care what you do with your life? We are the Universe. We care…

     
    • tiramit 9:06 pm on August 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      “…we are simply a heap of aggregates …adjectives, not nouns,” I like it! It explains something about the Khandas that always puzzled me. Thanks

    • hardie karges 9:12 pm on August 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, it was a revelation to me at the time, also, though I’ve heard someone since describe them as verbs, but no, I still think that they are adjectives. This opens a whole new field of inquiry, though, into the linguistic nature of our self-perception. Thanks for your comments…

  • hardie karges 6:38 am on December 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , citta, , , , , Khmer, lovingkindness, , , , , ,   

    Buddhism 101: Metta means Friendship, Karuna means Compassion… 

    IMG_2290You’ve got something pretty special when you put friendship and compassion together, and something pretty simple. Even people who profess to believe in nothing, and categorically reject use of that word ‘belief’ can surely believe in friendship and compassion. And friendship, universal friendship, is a very important concept, easy to forget in our day and time that at some time in the not-so-distant past anyone who was not part of the family was suspect and an object of great fear and suspicion…

    One of my favorite stories, recounted many times, is by Jared Diamond of ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ fame who related that while doing anthropological fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, when two strangers would meet each other, they’d count back to see if they had a mutual relative, so that they wouldn’t have to kill each other, or die trying… (More …)

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 4:28 pm on December 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Informative survey with a convincing historical explanation for fellow-feeling, if that phrase fits. It all builds nicely to your final thoughts where you suggest how experience of different cultures can develop the facility. It’s an important corrective to the divisions – silos, bunkers, echo chambers, whatever – of the modern era.

    • hardie karges 4:45 pm on December 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Dave! Merry Christmas from Cambodia…

  • hardie karges 6:39 am on May 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , lovingkindness,   

    #Mindfulness and #LovingKindness: American #Buddhism–for Ex-Christians and Holy (rock-and-) Rollers… 

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    Don’t you just love the way any discussion of Buddhism in the English language tends to revolve around these two concepts—mindfulness and loving-kindness? “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…,” I guess, or why else would Buddhism need to cop new words and phrases to brand itself for people who were most likely raised on rock-and-roll and Christianity?

    But for some reason this Buddhism-now concept of ‘loving-kindness’ never appealed to me. For one thing, it’s just not a very accurate translation of the Sanskrit word metta or its cognate maitri, whose various meanings generally range from friendship to compassion. Or maybe there IS no accurate translation. I’ve communicated with several people by e-mail about my desire to formally study Buddhism at the university level, and ‘with metta‘ is a standard sign-off. So why not ‘with loving-kindness’? Good question… (More …)

     
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