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  • hardie karges 4:09 pm on September 25, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Japan, , , metta, , , , ,   

    Buddhism and the Dialectic of Deliverance… 

    Buddhism needs no fancy metaphysics nor linguistics, multiple hells nor forty-two flavors of emptiness. Kindness and compassion are enough, metta and karuna and all that jazz. Which is one of the singular beauties of the faith, of course, that almost nothing is required up front, but some goodwill and a policy of non-aggression, ahimsa, such that oftentimes simply doing nothing, absolutely nothing, is the preferred path to advancement, simply because all other options are of lesser benefit.

    Some sects of Buddhism prefer a more elaborate presentation of gods and goddesses, but this is entirely optional and the historical Buddha himself had none of it. In fact, I’m not sure that the historical Buddha would even recognize Tibetan Vajrayana, or Japanese Zen, as something of his own inspiration. But such is the evolution of culture and language, so that a random mutation can be almost guaranteed to occur every eighty years or so, just like the DNA from which we all descend.

    But that doesn’t mean that Tibetan and Japanese Buddhists have nothing in common. They do. It’s just that these two almost-opposite branches of Buddhism are poised like the horns of a dilemma to offer themselves up as starting points for the next phase of dialectical Buddhism. So, given the superstitious and elaborate nature of Vajrayana and the sparse linguistic and meditation-oriented nature of Zen, what would be the next logical step for Buddhism to advance, at least in the West, that great field of dreams left to conquer?

    It just might be the original Theravadin style, with or without the religious trappings, so a more secular but traditional Buddhism, for lack of better terminology. And this is the current situation in the West, where those two extremes have found highest favor with the freedom-loving West, while the more disciplined original approach has found little favor—until now. Because the current acceptance of secular Buddhism goes back to the Early Buddhist roots in many important ways, but without karma, rebirth and past lives. The only question is how all of this will play out I the long run. My fingers are crossed. We are in need of some new synthesis to advance forward…

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

    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
    Tags: , , , , , , , metta,   

    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 10:44 am on August 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alexander the Great, , , , , , Hindi, , , , , metta, , , , , 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 8:50 am on July 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bodhicitta, , , , , , , , , metta,   

    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 11:18 am on June 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Indus Valley, Kama Sutra, , Malcolm Gladwell, , metta, , , , , 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 1:05 pm on December 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , metta   

    Snarky Buddha Tweet: Special Sale on Kindness and Compassion, all at reasonable rates… 

    I’m looking for something in everyone’s eyes: honesty, kindness, consideration, and compassion, smile optional, must be willing to re-locate. Laughter is the best medicine, no prescription required. Love comes with a warning…

     
  • hardie karges 12:37 pm on November 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , metta, , , , , ,   

    Buddhist Mindfulness and the Myth of Multi-Tasking… 

    Multi-tasking is a myth, aka ‘monkey mind’. Mindfulness is not a myth. Think one thought at the time. ‘Mindfulness’ is a difficult word to translate, and may or may not be the best translation of the Pali/Sanskrit word ‘sati,’ but that is the historical path of Buddhism, so that is the word with which we are left, and that is the task before us.

    I think that the Christians have even borrowed the term now, and so it has taken on a life of its own. But what does it really mean? The term ‘sati’ originally meant something like simple ‘awareness’ or ‘consciousness,’ small ‘c’, almost certainly, (as it still means in modern standard Thai).

    But even more certain would be to simply posit it as the inverse of its negation, and so ‘mindfulness’ is simply the opposite of ‘mindlessness’ and put the onus of exposition upon its protagonists, since the word ‘sati’ worked just fine for millennia, and its simple translations are more than sufficient.

    But the quest for religion is the quest for transcendence, if not magic, and if that means creating holy words with extraordinary definitions, then ‘mindfulness’ is one of those, in the modern post-New-Age reinvention of our spiritual necessities.

    And if that seems tired and trite, then rest assured that the most traditional Buddhists are in on the game, too, they also anxious to liberate terminology from the ordinary humdrum of daily existence, add some hype, aka ‘wu-wu.’

    And one of the easiest ways to do that is simply to redefine terms and double them up. So Sanskrit ‘mudita’ becomes not just ‘joy’ but ‘sympathetic joy.’ And ‘metta’ becomes not just ‘kindness’ but ‘loving-kindness.’ And the Asians do this, too, Thais long combining ‘metta’ and ‘karuna’ (compassion) into one comprehensive ‘mettakaruna.’ Likewise ‘sati’ and ‘panya’ (knowledge) can become ‘satipanya’ for extra emphasis and expansion.

    So beyond all the back-stories and linguistic back-formations, what does the word ‘mindfulness’ now really mean in the Buddhist epistemological sense? As stated originally, probably the best interpretation is focused thinking, i.e. one thought at the time, since there truly is not the ability to hold two thoughts equally and simultaneously, but simply to switch between them constantly, so a trick in itself, but perhaps not conducive to a peaceful mind.

    But I think that a better notion is to think in terms of non-linguistic thought altogether, what I call ‘proto-consciousness’ or ‘paleo-consciousness,’ in the sense that this was once normal, no doubt, before the advent of language some 50,000 years ago, almost simultaneous with the demise of our competitors homo Denisova and Floresiensus, and finally Neanderthalensis.

    That is no coincidence, and no cause to celebrate. But that was then, and this is now. God knows that we are nothing if not a young species, and all should be forgiven. Bottom line: Cooperation is better than competition, community better than individualism. And mindfulness is more than a simple agreement of terms.

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

    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 12:18 pm on April 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , maitri, metta, Mithra, , ,   

    Buddhism and the Personal Peace Initiative… 

    Don’t take the bait. Let the other guy have the last word. Someone has to be the adult in the room in this world or there’ll be none, adults that is, since I think that we can assume that there is a room, by prior agreement, and our common consensus that the material world exists to at least an extent that we can talk about it, even if those illusions of solidity quickly vanish with increased scrutiny. Because the infinite divisibility of matter is as inscrutable as the infinite extension of the universe, and as unlikely as true love, in the sense of ultimate compatibility, beyond all causes and conditions, not to be confused with lovingkindness, simple friendship or universal brotherhood, however you want to define the Sanskrit or Pali terms ‘metta’ and ‘maitri’, notwithstanding all the mutations and peregrinations that the Iranian god Mithra made in transforming himself from a god of light into a Roman god of war, thus the very opposite of the Buddhist intent. And such is the world, fidgeting and finagling, hungering and thirsting for something more, if not always something other, the family familiar usually preferred to the altogether other, for reasons of convenience, if not comfort, and seldom better. For the world grows smaller to the same degree that it grows more violent, the need for living room in conflict with the need for living rooms, possession and aggression up against compassion and dispassion, so we gather up our rocks and put them in hard places, all ready for battle, rather than find peace within ourselves, and then extend it to others. There is a way out, and a way forward, but the answer is too simple for many men to accept: lay down your arms and rest your legs. Mind your tongues and mind your manners. For a war with guns is never really won, and a war of words is no better. Choose peace, and quiet, and reconciliation…

     
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