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  • hardie karges 6:59 am on December 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , New Age, , , , , , ,   

    The Ways and (Skillful) Means of Buddhism… 

    ‘Skillful means’ is not about telling people what they want to hear. It’s telling them what they need to hear, in a way that’s acceptable to them. And if this sounds obvious, it can be more complicated than it seems. It can even contradict one of the main precepts in the Eightfold Path, in fact, if it fails to acknowledge the importance of Right Speech. One of the Buddha’s later commentators, in fact, even bragged about how the Buddha could preach about cosmic Self to the Brahmanists, while preaching non-self to the already-committed Buddhists. Fast-forward to the future and a prominent senior Buddhist monk today claims that Buddha, in fact, was never committed to a doctrine of non-self, but was undecided about it (so that we can now accept rebirth with no issue of what it is that gets reborn). But this is not ‘skillful means.’ And this is not Right Speech.

    As the New Testament of the Christian Bible is often paraphrased: “Let your yes be yes; and let your no be no.” Bingo. That Buddhism is an open doctrine is fine, and to be commended. That it sometimes gets twisted almost beyond recognition is not always so good. But that’s exactly what happened when Mahayana went in two almost opposite directions from its shunyata (emptiness) starting point, one leading to the Vajrayana of Tibet, the other leading to the Zen of Japan. And for a long time, that’s where Buddhism stood, and stalled, and those are the two extremes that made the biggest impact in the New World—until now. Because now there is a new dialectic to that interplay of magic and trance, and it should be no surprise that the only realistic synthesis would be a return to the primal roots of early Buddhism. So, Theravada now finds its best messaging in its simplest Forest Temples, and the debates in the background resume.

    Only this time it is not the background of Brahmanism and Jainism, but dozens of so-called ‘New Age’ ideas and the general air of conspiracy. But for me Secular Buddhism is the rightful heir to the debate with religiosity, something which original Buddhism had not the luxury, because Science as we know it did not exist. But Reason and rationality did, embedded in the nature of cause and effect, the words for which define ‘reason’ in more than one Asian language. And that’s how Buddhism won the original debate, for me, at least, because it was the rational option. And it still can be, if it can find its peace with Science, because that is the air we breathe in this day and age, logic and testing. We only need a belief system to make sense of it all. If not, then ‘belief’ becomes a bad word, synonymous with ‘faith,’ and we are left to our own devices to find succor and solace. I find no contradiction between my Buddhism and the best science we know. If forced to choose, then I will refuse, and let the chips fall where they may.

     
  • hardie karges 9:56 am on October 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , New Age,   

    Buddhism is not a Religion of the Book, and that’s good… 

    Buddhism is not a New Age conspiracy theory. It is a discipline. But this is one of the problems of Buddhism in America in the 21st century: it is just one of several dozens of items on the New Age menu available to mix-and-match according to whim, or taste. Just add salt and pepper. So, it is not unusual to hear someone say that they are a Buddhist Taoist Rosicrucian, or something like that.

    And there’s nothing wrong with that, not really, as long as it’s well-thought and heartfelt, but it does tend to ignore the centuries of development in the Buddhist world, all of which went into the definition of what we now call Buddhism, which is extremely broad and diverse. So, Buddhism is already bulging at the seams with centuries of dialectic, with or without any extra added input from the latest fad religion to hit the New Age newsstands.

    Because that’s what Buddhism has always done, and the Buddha allowed that. But what is missing now is the discipline, and the dedication, not just to research, and reading, but to the world sangha community, and the traditions that have given this religion and philosophy 2500 years of continuous existence in a world we barely know yet, so something like 25% of its settled history, and almost all of its recorded history.

    That’s why I like to have a connection to a temple, or temples, and monks, not just a Facebook page or a discussion group. Because even if the Buddha and his buddies were doing similar activities, discussing and debating, they were also meditating in caves, often and devotedly. If you’ve never been to a week-long silent retreat, then you don’t know much about Buddhism IMHO. I heartily recommend it. And yes, there are still rishis in this world who spend years in caves unwashed and sparsely fed. Guess what? They don’t smell bad, either. You can’t get Buddhism just from a book…

     
  • hardie karges 6:53 am on April 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ecstasy, , , New Age, Wall Street   

    Now that I’m Buddhist: Where’s the Ecstasy? Where’s the Bliss? 

    IMG_1190

    Buddhism in Sri Lanka

    Where’s the enlightenment available in four fashion-friendly colors and tested without harm to any animals? Shady men in rose-colored glasses sell hopes and dreams on semi-abandoned street-corners in Harlem, under dim lights, on the dark web, and in the dark corners of your mind, promising enlightenment and fulfillment, all at reasonable costs, but with no guarantees, no money back, no warranty implied or intended, you pay your money and you take your chances…

    No, I’m not talking about the latest designer drugs from the bathroom labs of Little Pharma, more like the latest New Age-y religious fads from the laptop labs of the Western Lands, in which you read a book, take a course, have a sit, make some new friends, do some yoga with the semi-naked guy and his six-pack flashing, and then wham! Bam! Presto change-o, you’re in a new dimension, of lights and colors and sounds you’ve never seen before… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:22 am on August 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , KCRW, New Age   

    The Messy-onic Tradition, part 1: Deepak and his BS (Best-sellers)… 

    Author’s note: I was seriously thinking about pulling this post which is somewhat satirical about Deepak Chopra, and depositing it without ceremony into the circular ‘delete’ file, UNTIL… until I saw that Mr. Chopra himself would be guest DJ on my favorite radio station KCRW out in LA, so I figured I’d wait and pass judgment after that, and…

    Deepak Chopra just played ‘Rising Sun’ by George Harrison as Guest DJ on KCRW; seems not only was this song a gift from George to Deepak, which Chopra donated to the estate posthumously, but the lyrics are taken from chapter titles of one of Chopra’s books! Cool. Nice story, regardless of what you think of Chopra…

    It seems that Mr. Chopra is most inspired my musicians who are his fans, and their music, including, besides George Harrison, such luminaries as Michael Jackson—okay. Then there’s ‘The Way We Were’ by Barbara Streisand—hmmm, but “Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini?” So, I changed my mind about dumping the post. Roll the presses… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 9:35 am on March 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , New Age,   

    Religion 102: Toward a New Spiritual Discipline 

    We’re a degenerate society, America, that is, profane and impolite, licentious and unlicensed, democratic and debauched. We’ve lost our way as a society, a nation, and a culture, for what reasons being debatable.  What’s worse: having made our deal with the Devil we now dismiss those religions that haven’t, as though our degenerate society is somehow superior.  We’re drunken, drug-addled, sex-craving, and proud of it! This is how we measure our manliness, and increasingly: our womanliness…

    Starlets repeatedly score fashionista points for how much skin they’re willing to show, as if titillation were talent. Paragons of virtue we are no longer. Is this the best we can do as a race of people? Much of this is in the name of ‘freedom’, of course, which is understandable, given our traditions, but some of it also tries to pass for spirituality, which I object to. Early Christians used to torture themselves mercilessly to show their love of Jesus and God, you know, quite the opposite of nude selfies at the Grand Canyon… (More …)

     
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