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  • hardie karges 11:43 am on March 18, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , passivity, , ,   

    Buddhism 499: Suffering doesn’t have to be so sad…  

    Suffering does not mean sadness, maybe in Nepali language, but not in Buddhism. This is one of the lessons, and this is one of the discussions, about what the word ‘dukkha’ really means, and what that means for us. Many pandits try to redefine it variously as ‘stress,’ ‘disappointment,’ ‘dissatisfaction,’ ‘spot of bother,’ haha, or various and sundry other things, but in most modern SE Asian languages the word indeed is usually best translated as ‘suffering,’ however minor or apparently insignificant, which sometimes earns Buddhism the rap as pessimistic.  

    What IS significant is that you will one day die, or simply expire, from this life in this world, and whether anything goes on after that is a matter of sober conjecture. But that IS a limit to your free will and your open skies and your desire for the Christian myth of abundance. For if there is indeed an infinity and/or an eternity, then it is surely empty, and that can indeed be beautiful, just as can the various limits placed upon it. For what is a work of art if not a limit, or definition, of reality, and what is a song? They are nothing if not sublime limits placed upon an undefined eternity. 

    Thus, suffering need not be so cruel. For me it is little more than life in passive voice as much or more than active, if those grammatical terms still have meaning for you. They do for English language literary agents, I assure you, and passive voice is largely prohibited, while in Asian academic circles, it is almost required. Go figure. But I’m not advocating passivity, and that is what kept me from Buddhism for many years, the passivity that I perceived in Thailand. As always, the truth lies in the Middle Path, and the subtle balance between aggression and renunciation. There is always a way forward without resorting to extremes… 

  • hardie karges 6:00 am on January 9, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: civil disobedience, , Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Pancasila, passivity   

    Buddhism and the Power of Emptiness 

    Non-action is not the same as inaction, and it can often counter aggression successfully, with non-compliance and non-cooperation, etc. Because inaction is passive, while non-action is deliberate and intentional, so the better Buddhist response, by far, and a well-tested tactic by such civil disobedience luminaries as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Buddhism’s weakest point is its passivity, by those who misinterpret its dispassion as such. But that is a logical non-sequitur. Dispassion does not imply passivity, even if that is a hard point to make to people in many Buddhist countries where that is the norm.

    And I’ve made my peace with that reality, somewhat, in that at this point in the history of the world, passivity is better than the mindless aggression that consumes so many lives in its quest for legitimacy, usually being marketed as any one of various forms of freedom, which is largely a masquerade and a farce, a caricature of true freedom which is freedom FROM the addictions and cravings that enslave us, not a freedom TO do whatever and whenever we want, no matter whom it might hurt in the process. Because that is a precept as important as any in the Buddhist Commandments, whether five (Pancasila) for the layperson or Eight (Atthasila) for monks.

    First do no harm. Then decide what else is required and necessary. To do nothing is better than to do something wrong or bad. And, when properly applied with strategy and forethought, non-action can be revolutionary. Because dictators and autocrats depend on the acquiescence of a docile populace to rule by force and coercion. That means enough optimism and goodwill to reproduce the human race, without which no ruler can rule. Many, if not most animals, cannot reproduce in captivity. Why is that, do you think? The answer to that is the secret to life and the origin of the science of psychology…

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