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  • hardie karges 11:02 am on August 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , nature   

    Buddhism and the Art of the Path… 

    When the world outside imposes limits, then you explore inside, Inner Space, where there are few if any limits. This is the hardest thing for many of us to accept, especially us freedom-junkie Westerners, descendant of Europe and the Indo-European cowboy steppes, some of whom went east and got all meditative, the rest of us long having dallied with the West, and got bored with life on the installment plan, limited to incremental growth and low interest on investment, so we invented capitalism for life in the fast lane, and a convenient alternative to outright combat, while accomplishing largely the same thing, stratification of the races into winners and losers, so as to facilitate social immobility and survival of the fattest…

    So here we are now, some five thousand years later, addicted to our sensations and victims of our adrenaline, having largely conquered the world of Nature and with nowhere else to go but an Outer Space from which there is no return, or an Ocean Deep, where there is no sleep, and the cost of living is high…

    So we return to the predilections of our eastern Indo-Euro cousins, the same ones that we once accused of being the lazy soma-bibbing bumpkins of the clan, but now maybe not so slow or dim-witted after all, they having followed a different path, but of consciousness, not high-rise sky-scraping construction, but a less Nature-defiling path of Inner Space, which, when compared to the alternative of Outer Space, is somehow infinite, if not eternal, so unlimited in Space, if not Time, but on an inner path, not outer, and so protected by the sheaths and membranes of consciousness, not the temporary bulwarks of concrete and steel against bacteria and other forms of DNA that know how to survive against all odds…

    Because Nature will always find a way to survive, if not thrive, because that is what DNA does, once it has been coded, and sent to the factory for reproduction. Thus the path of Nature is a struggle between the twin forces of reproduction and consciousness, existence and non-existence, and the result can only be fruitful, if followed to the letter, and the number, because numbers are crucial to any plan for life, too much and it’s fire, too little and it’s ice, so that path in the middle not only looks nice, but actually is crucial to survival, with only the minimum amount of suffering necessary…

    And that is especially true in Inner Space, the path of least resistance and greatest fruition, whether simple meditative presence or a vast creative innovative Virtual Reality future. The past is certain and unreturnable. The future is a sea of possibilities. The present is a refuge, and a comfortable path between extremes. Suffering is a feeling. Limits are the reality. The only thing without limits is Emptiness…

     
  • hardie karges 11:18 am on August 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , birth, , , nature, ,   

    Buddhism and Nature: the Law of Birth… 

    Nature is ธรรมชาติ, ‘dhammachaht,’ dharma jati, the dharma of birth, not the law of rebirth, in at least a few Asian languages, and likely a few more. And that is probably as good a definition of it as I could come up with, notwithstanding the fact that such a ‘birth’ does indeed become for many a ’round’ of which there are many, and which can neither be proven or disproven, ultimately, but for which there is no intrinsic logic, nor empirical evidence…

    But when we Westerners think of Nature, what do we think of, if not something wild and free, and so a tight fit into our narrative of liberty, and the delightful disobedience which that implies, for we love nothing so much as breaking the rules, ALL the rules, if not all the time, then at least as often as we can get away with it…

    But does Nature do that? Not hardly, I don’t think, and the typical Asian view, by invoking ‘dharma,’ is certainly likening it to a law, and therefore something which we disobey only at great risk to ourselves. But that doesn’t mean that Nature is something written in stone, or on crinkled crackling paper, and the ink stains that have dried upon some lines…

    No, nature is something changing, even if the laws invoked may indeed be unchanging—or not. Thus the first rule of DNA—sh*t happens, i.e. mutations occur, and that becomes the raw material for evolution. Now the central dogma of the science of genetics is that these mutations are random, which may or may not be true, but there is much anecdotal evidence that there may indeed be more to it than that, but for which firm and verifiable evidence is heretofore lacking…

    And that doesn’t even consider the fact of so-called ‘genetic drift,’ which no one can or will deny, but only damn by the faint praise of its ‘driftiness,’ thus removing it from any consideration as something maybe far more serious in terms of cause and/or effect…

    All of which is to say that the role of consciousness in evolution cannot be ruled out, even if some commentaries may have jumped the gun in ascribing to it more than its genuine worth, i.e. “consciousness affects evolution; evolution affects consciousness…”

    But this does nothing to minimize the miracle of birth, regardless, which is certainly not random, even if the product of the most random and brutal orgy, which is fortunately not usually the case, even if the Latin-inspired ‘romance’ may indeed often be lacking on cold dark nights in tight cramped corners….

    But Buddhism is more concerned with the suffering implicit, and it is certainly a fact that death is implied in the ‘law of birth’ and that is the proof of the prevalence of suffering, if only by a 51-49% advantage in the scores and statistics. For the world may be defined by its limits and its suffering, but there is much beauty, also, in Nature and Art, and the consciousness of it…

     
  • hardie karges 12:13 pm on July 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , nature, , vegetarian,   

    Nature Asserts Herself with a Vengeance, and a Virus… 

    Nature is not ours to conquer. Nature is there for us to respect, honor, and obey. And if this seems like common sense, derived from common knowledge, believe me that it is one of the hardest commandments to obey, maybe because it was never written down, or maybe because it is somehow counter-intuitive, that what looks like ‘Nature’s bounty’ to us is somehow limited and precious and subject to restrictions on access.

    And isn’t that the way we males perceive our access to the feminine side of life? Because that’s what Nature is, even at its wildest, it is the feminine principle to life, as opposed to the will and violence that haunt the halls of patriarchal civilization. Because even at its most violent, the mighty lion subduing the gentle lamb, I don’t think that there is any enjoyment implied or expressed, simply the fact of life that big fish eat small fish, no offense intended.

    Only we humans have the willpower to construct cities, or the conscious intent to choose vegetarianism, when it is not our historical path that has led us to that conclusion, but pure consciousness. Now I could be wrong, but I don’t think that it is likely that any other species will soon emulate that decision, though they may very well be vegetarian by nature, and who knows the path that Nature has bequeathed upon that other species, whose story we little know, and that has brought them to that conclusion?

    But now we have come full circle, from nature and back again and the only thing that has changed is that we are one step closer to a complete revolution around a celestial body that is in itself in revolution around a celestial body, in some giant circle dance in some giant sky that only makes sense from a distance. So we build cities and take what we want from Nature, gentle bountiful Nature, as if it were a stray lamb on the edge of the flock, and there must surely be more where that came from.

    But there is not, not in any accessible form, that is. Because we are limited by light and gravity, and the restrictions placed by that fourth dimension of Time. Almost anything is possible in Space, but Time in a single dimension is less forgiving than Space in three, and Nature is the perfect example of that. In more than one SE Asian language it is something like the Thai ธรรมชาติ, thammachaht, i.e. dharma jati, the law of birth, straight from the Sanskrit, as filtered through the lens of Buddhism.

    And that’s what Nature is, too, the law of birth, and death, as it pertains to our lives and those that we are privileged to share with. If it took a pandemic virus for us to see that clearly, then so be it, better late than never. Because the new normal will have to be greener and cleaner, or it won’t work. Mother knows best…

     
  • hardie karges 11:21 am on May 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , nature,   

    Buddhism, Nature, and the Middle Path between Religions… 

    Nature is not something to be conquered. It is something to be revered. This is the basis for most feminine religions, without sword and without a book, just the smooth rounded edges of nature’s leaves and branches, hardened by brute experience with that same Nature’s lightning and thunder.

    Eventually that religion typically may evolve into a form of devotion, ‘bhakti’ for Hinduism, or one of the later sects for Buddhism, because few of us are really made for the rigors of metaphysics, when it’s easier just to bow the head and utter some formulas, or simply swear allegiance to mother Maria.

    And many Buddhists would gladly turn Descartes on his head and proclaim ‘non cogito ergo sum’, ‘I don’t think, therefore I am’, as many a devoted Theravadin truly believes, but which I take exception to. I’m just not that kind of Buddhist, I guess, for better or worse, confused or whatever, and I don’t for one minute think that Buddhism is better than all the others, simply that Buddhism is what is right for these times.

    That’s because I don’t see Buddhism as something established by some transcendental Buddha to which the earthly blokes are mere manifestations, any more than I see Jesus as a Christian version of the same thing, the Platonic ideal of love and forgiveness, Buddha that of compassion and forbearance. Because they were both just blokes, however enlightened, but with differences that have defined East and West at least since Homer’s recall, and likely before.

    So I see Christianity as the active aggressive alternative, dominated mostly by men of Aryan provenance, and despite their brutality, to see what could be accomplished in the state of Nature was a Noble (hint hint) quest, free enterprise, laissez-faire and all that rap, late nights with bright lights a reasonable relax.

    The Jains were, and are, just the opposite, of course, in which the less you do the better, to the point that death by self-starvation (ever heard of inanition?) seems only logical in the quest to do no harm. Just do nothing at all. The Buddhists have tried to walk the middle path to relative success, but still there are those who lapse into the do-it-all or do-nothing extremes.

    Bottom line: the Christian Capitalists have definitively gone too far, to the extent that we are killing ourselves knowing and willingly, grinning like Cheshire cats while going over the cliff, just like the Jains in spirit, if not letter, blindly proceeding with disaster. I revert to the demands of Nature. There is always a path to (re)conciliation, and that is THE path, I would say…

     
  • hardie karges 9:31 am on April 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , First Noble Truth, nature   

    Buddhism During a Crisis, Coronavirus Redux… 

    Nothing better illustrates the Buddhist First Truth of suffering than the Coronavirus, proclaimed as novel, but I’m not so sure. Because nothing is truly novel in the realm of suffering, especially when delivered by the sneaky intercessions of a virus. Somebody once said that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional, though it wasn’t Buddha who said that, however congruent with his teachings it may or may not be. No, the Buddha was pretty clear about the inevitability of suffering, and the Eight-Step program to its mitigation, and hopefully cure. Now if there’s a difference in meaning between pain and suffering, then it’s the difference between looking and seeing, listening and hearing, touching and feeling, in that one verb is transitive, affecting objects, while the other is intransitive, something felt, so more than simple observation of another.

    But my point is that Buddhism can help, in times like these, by simply acknowledging the normalcy of suffering, if nothing else. I suspect that many Westerners accustomed to amusement parks and weekend larks will have a much harder time of it than some Orientals accustomed to struggle. After all, you don’t see Asians serenading each other in captivity, now, do you? And if the Western commitment to ‘never change our way of life’ is charming, in a way, then in another way, it’s rather discouraging. This IS a good time for paradigm shifts, I’d say. Because mostly this is a psychological shock, more than medical, economic, or even ecological. Most Westerners are accustomed, even taught, to control Nature, reign her in, to do our bidding, and the idea that She is there as something to be awed and revered, is rather secondary. I mean sure, we go visit national parks and snap our pics, but as often as not we’re snapping pics of each other, and God knows, our selfies.

    Most of all, though, we’ve just never been taught to look inward, and those introverts among us tend to be categorized as ‘losers’ by the type-A bullies who think that aggression comes first, then questions come later, if ever. So I don’t see the Coronavirus as a death sentence, but just the opposite, in fact, an opportunity to make some necessary changes socially and ecologically, perhaps first and most important, but also personally, mostly within the theme of ‘less is more’, simple pleasures, and a shift away from consumption toward contemplation. For now, though, the bottom line is all about control, self-control, preferably. Because I don’t think it’s any accident that the countries hardest hit are those that are the most freedom-obsessive, and the countries doing best are those most controlled. But I prefer the self-control of the Buddhist countries over the government control of the ex-Communist countries of East Europe and elsewhere. So for us it’s a bittersweet victory, but for Nature it’s jubilant. Global Warming lost a battle this year…

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

    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 12:45 pm on December 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , nature, selfishness   

    Life and Buddhism at the Crossroads of Culture and the City… 

    Human selfishness is appalling, incompetence assumed, myopia even worse. So it’s no wonder our kids will inherit a Hell of our own making. Of course many people are quite proud of the world we’ve created, and with some justification, certainly, but the question we must ask ourselves is in which direction are we heading. So if you are in love with cars and buildings and highways and cities, then you should be quite happy. But much of our present world is based on white male privilege, of the Aryan upper class, so what would it look like as done by other tribal sources, and by the females who bare the burden of multiple births? Unfortunately that question is hard to answer, since it is typical now to copy the Western paradigm as if it were the only one available. So Chinese plans for the future look almost like a caricature of the Western model, Hong Kong extrapolated exponential, high rises up and down every street, with almost no one left in the state of nature. But that’s exactly what my perfect world would look like, if it were up to me, and if I had the decision to make, because nature is what we are, not concrete and steel, no matter how we feel, under the influence of elixirs and potions and untested notions, the children of experiment, left to our own devices, mostly electronic. But where are we then when the lights go out? Because they most certainly will, somehow some way, in some year, if not some day. And we should be prepared for that eventuality, with no time wasted in transition, not only because it is imminent, but because it is better. We are organic beings, not robots, and to deny our connection to the earth is not only futile, but misguided. If there is beauty in this world, then it comes from nature. If there is good in this world, then it comes from nature. And if there is any truth in this world, then it comes from Nature. And to Nature it should return, in a constant process of recycling, and returning to the source for refreshment. That doesn’t mean living in the wild, not necessarily. It means living in villages, without walls and without fears, no guns and no tears, preferably Buddhist. Villages are feminine and forgiving. Cities are masculine and unforgiving. The world has developed physically, but have we developed mentally and spiritually? That question remains to be answered…

     
    • Robert@69 10:12 pm on December 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      we have developed mentally – clearly technology is a product of our minds – as are religions, billionaires and 5G. Spiritually…ahhh that’s difficult to discern. Christianity, as preached currently in america appears to fulfil the notion of “making a pact with the devil” for power, with Trump. But that speaks more to ideology/mentality than to spirituality and I pray that recent events of rebellion from the base may lead to a “resurrection of Jesus,” in the sense that honest and practicing Christians begin waking up from the spell false prophets.

      Sorry, I ramble. I would hope too that our villages would orient around feminine energies – no guns and much metta and mudita. One of the sweet things about Buddhism as I understand it, is that no one knows quite where they are on the path but we know we are on a path of heart and the 3rd Noble truth reveals that indeed we can lesson our suffering, we do indeed love as we love ourselves, and experience greater spaciousness in our lives.

      • hardie karges 10:19 pm on December 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        You are welcome to ramble. Thank you for your comments. And I largely agree…

  • hardie karges 2:12 pm on August 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Forbearance, meanderthals, , nature   

    Buddhism and the Winding Path of Forbearance… 

    The world is full of sights and sounds, none of which brings happiness. That is somewhere inside. And this is a central message of Buddhism, of course, and other religions, too, that happiness is not a function of material fulfillment, or even full bellies, so much as it is an internal feeling of psychological contentment, that is not merely quantifiable, but qualifiable, in terms that evoke hard-to-describe pleasures, while invoking few, if any, gods. Because the old war gods have lost their power; and the old goddesses have lost their punch. That was an earlier time when desires were simple and the jobs were few, goddesses there to multiply us, gods there to divide us. As the populations increase, then so do the problems, almost by mathematical certainty. So once our material survival is theoretically guaranteed, then immediately we begin killing each other, even though the other now poses no significant risk, just annoyance, and provokes our lack of forbearance, and our inability to make peace instead of war, to share the wealth instead of fighting over it. And this is the message of much religion, to love each other, but not necessarily THE other, that defining line the rub of religion that sometimes gives it the rep of uniting people in all the wrong ways, against the other, rather than with him, because the mere fact that we see an other is evidence of his or her otherness, is it not? And so continues the march of history, zig zag meanderthals in search of a path, any path, that has an unobstructed field and maybe even a clear exit, just in case we need a rest. Maybe our bellies are TOO full, in fact, that material contentment counter-indicated once it becomes assured, a little uncertainty called for in order to foment change. Monks and rishis fast, after all, not because they want to lose weight, but because they are hungry for another kind of fulfillment, and sometimes it is just that easy to tease out the tiny details of spiritual fulfillment, just enough of a difference to make a difference. We can see in DNA that multiple mutations provide the raw material for evolution, despite the occasional disastrous kerfuffle. So if it’s good enough for nature, then it’s good enough for me. We are arrogant with our predictions, proclamations, and prognostications, but nature is kind in its uncertainty. Civilization has betrayed its promise. It’s time to return to Nature–again…

     
  • hardie karges 5:05 pm on December 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Earth Mother, , nature, poem, , prose, rainy season, Sky Father,   

    Buddhism in the rainy season… 

    img_1453

    Kwan Yin (Kuan Im), Sino-Thai Bodhisattva

    I love the rainy season. I like the clouds. I like the mist. I like the coolness in the air, evaporative, just add breeze to activate, to keep the heat at bay, to keep the house at beach, and the fever below boiling, to keep the hands out of reach of the hard stuff…

    This is the sweet spot, from God’s own hand and Nature’s own palette, automatically activating and infinitely adjustable, in imperfect synchronicity with the hard heavy hot dry season that precedes it, just begging for relief and thirsting for succor…

    These are the tropics, where every day is the same but for the thick gray blanket that slides back and forth letting the sun shine in or letting the heat out, like the foam on a head of pale ale that seems to act independently of the frothy sea beneath it…

    It’s almost as if there were some signal from above, or some conductor’s baton, or some director’s cue, and all of a sudden the stage hands come in and strike the set, removing summer crops and beachy props and replacing them with rice fields all waiting… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 3:05 pm on June 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: nature, nurture, ,   

    #Nature vs. #Nurture and the great Human Crap Shoot 

    Nature vs. Nurture is one of the great debates of history and science, at least since the origin of the science of genetics, i.e. whether human lives are more the product of genetics or experience. This is closely related to the previous philosophical debate of free will vs. determinism. The subject is literally something of a ‘chicken vs. egg’ question, though, largely unanswerable and ultimately futile, that egg and that coop both necessary and more or less equal. So let’s call it a draw.

    It turns out we have far fewer genes—a mere few tens of thousands—than would account for the variety of human and biological experience, and many of those only come into play when ‘turned on,’ oh baby. If the hand you’re dealt cannot really be changed (would you even want to? That’s YOU), then the hand you play is (almost) infinitely open-ended, so fair enough. If you’re lucky you may even get to throw a few cards away and request some new ones. Bottom line: get off your ass and create your life.

    (More …)

     
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