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  • hardie karges 12:05 pm on October 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , non-dualism, , , Right Thought, Samma sankapppa   

    The Role of Thought in Buddhism… 

    The Buddha never taught or recommended No Thought, an idea popular in some Buddhist and all ‘non-dualistic’ groups, which should be labeled ‘non-pluralistic,’ btw, just saying. The Buddha taught Right Thought, samma samkappa. But don’t thoughts sometimes just pop up? Yes, they do. the issue here is not one of ownership, though, but the true nature of thoughts and feelings. For some reason, we tend to trust our feelings, but reserve much suspicion toward our thoughts. But are they any different, really?

    So, maybe they are as different as heart and head, but is that any different, either, really? Because those bodily locations have only been known since recently, but the concept of Mind, as citta, has been known since almost forever, and certainly since the time of Buddha. Indeed, during the Buddha’s time, and even later, there was considerable debate in Greece, and possibly India, over the location of the origin of thought, such that Plato placed it at or in the brain, while his student Aristotle placed it firmly in the heart.

    And if it seems obvious that the source of all sensations originating in the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth could only logically be mixed and matched somewhere nearby such as the gray matter that constitutes a brain, then it is equally plausible that the center could be where the pathways of the blood start and finish, itself perhaps the mechanism for mixing and matching those sensations into more complex feelings and thoughts. Modern neuroscience has come a long way since then, of course, but still we ‘listen to our hearts,’ even if we prefer to ‘use our brains’ for the heavy lifting, intellect being generally considered superior to intuition.  

    That distinction is sometimes used to differentiate men and women, to generally ill effect, but the fact remains that the two activities are intertwined. But to imagine that thoughts have no proper human origin nor intention, per the ‘non-dualist’ screed, is absurd and counterproductive, and for what purpose it is not clear. Even if Buddhism is technically non-dualist, in the sense that ‘we are one with everything’ like the joke about the monk ordering hot dogs, the modern ‘non-dualists’ go much too far in asserting that we are therefore nothing. That may pay well in the online debates, but it’s not what the Buddha said, and that is my only concern. Think good thoughts.

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  • hardie karges 10:47 am on May 22, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brahmanist, , , George Harrison, , , , , non-dualism, ,   

    Self, Ego, Identity, or the Lack Thereof in Buddhism… 

    Permanent self and immortal soul are a convenient fiction, but a fiction, nevertheless. And this is what the whole ‘no-self’ on ‘non-self’ debate is all about, or at least WAS. And if it’s disturbing enough that that principle is often misrepresented, it’s downright ridiculous that there is often even a debate over the preference or appropriateness of ‘non-self’ vis a vis ‘no-self.’ But the issue is very clear within the historical context of the competition and ongoing debate between the Brahmanists, Buddhists, and Jains way back some 2500 years ago.

    And the reverb echoes even today when George Harrison opines during his last days that these souls go on forever, so death is essentially meaningless. And whatever qualms you might have about such a statement from a scientific viewpoint would hopefully be secondary to the hope and optimism that it might do for you in the short-term of this life span. But it’s very popular now amongst ‘non-dualists’ as much or more than Buddhists to claim that thoughts have no thinker and actions have no doer. They even claim that the Buddha said that, but if so, then I can’t name the sutra, and even if he did it was likely in a metaphorical usage.

    Because Buddhism in general is nothing if not mental training, and so to conclude that there is nothing there, nothing at all, would seem counterintuitive. But that is the modern ‘non-dualist’ assertion, that any and all self-identity is detrimental to one’s spiritual well-being. And that may or may not be true, but I don’t think the Buddha said that, because it would render the Eightfold Path pointless. When you believe in yourself, don’t believe too much, just enough to accomplish what you need, not enough to inflate your ego. That’s the Middle Path between excess and lack…

     
  • hardie karges 6:42 am on April 3, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ignorance, , non-dualism, , , ,   

    Buddhism of the Present Moment: Averaging Past and Future, Science and Superstition… 

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

    Sometimes the only way to remove hatred and ignorance from our lives is to remove the haters and ignorant people from our lives. And fortunately, that’s still possible, as our increasingly crowded world still has some empty places yet to be traversed and social ambitions yet to be fulfilled. But what happens when there is no place to hide, when social mobility comes to a standstill? Where do we go then to find peace and quiet, to find love, knowledge, and acceptance, where before there was only ignorance and hate?

    The obvious place to go is inside of course, deep inside, within our own minds and consciousness, both terms that I use with some trepidation, science-lover that I am, when what I really mean is memory. Because other than the constant (live) stream of sense perceptions that occur in real time, then all we really have is memory, which is anathema to the present-moment Buddhist or Eckhart Tolle disciple, but which is nonetheless a major part of our conscious waking moments.

    Besides those two there are only dreams, which occur in present time but in an undefined space, and conscious thinking, which some ‘non-dualists’ and latter-day Buddhists (‘thoughts without thinkers’) insist is not really real, but which nevertheless occupy reams and tomes of studied critiques and analyzed comparisons for the only purpose of knowledge itself, any benefits to be derived in subsequent interactions with the same world of biology, chemistry, and physics, or language, history, and psychology, from which it ultimately came in the process of experiment.

    And none of that can reasonably be denied, though it could certainly be claimed that we have spiritual lives that are bigger and better than all that. And I would tend to agree. So, the challenge is to make sense of it all, science and meditation, or action and renunciation, so that we can combine lives of action with our spiritual lives, which should also include science, and not just deep introspection, which was all that Buddha—and Plato—had. The answer is implicit, of course, in the Middle Path.

    Because that concept of the Middle Path works not only between Buddha’s luxury and lack, or the Mahayanist dichotomy of existence and non-existence, but still works for a modern secular dichotomy between introspection and science. And that is the supreme beauty of Buddhism, of course, that it is an ongoing dialectic, in which wrong choices are corrected. The Buddha himself wasn’t perfect, and even accepted a lesser status for women, which often figures prominently in misguided Buddhist theses for past lives and reincarnation, hint hint. But we can correct the mistakes of the past with the revelations of the present. And so we must.

     
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