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  • hardie karges 11:45 am on August 21, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Modern Buddhism: Past Lives or Present Moment? You Decide… 

    I accept all forms of Buddhism, as long as they have no quarrel with Science. But, that’s easier said than done, given the spat over rebirth, as to exactly what it means and how it applies. The main conundrum, of course, is that Buddha cut his teeth on his anatta no-self doctrine, and so, if Buddhism accepts rebirth, then what exactly is it that gets reborn? Good question. And many are the answers, ranging from karma to consciousness, anything but the body itself in reincarnation, complete with a permanent self or soul intact.

    Because, that’s the Hindu Vedic Brahmanistic principle that the Buddha was in fierce competition with, and this was the most prominent point of departure between them, so a definite no-no. So, the Buddhists tend to explain the controversy away, while at the same time talking about past and future lives like so many trips to the grocery store. And many Buddhists will explain that not only is this not unscientific, but science is gradually coming around to a similar view. I’ve got a better idea: drop the whole idea, since it’s not really necessary, anyway, so why raise a ruckus over something this has no proven relevance to this life in this world, which is all that we really know?

    The irony is that many of these ‘re-birthers’ are Present Moment Buddhists, also, the same Buddhists who most loudly promote the relatively new idea that this so-called ‘present moment’ is not only all that we can know, but it’s all that there is. But this idea is not only in direct contradiction with Rebirth and Past Lives, but it’s also in contradiction with itself, simply because it defies common sense, in that what we see in life is not a still photo, but a movie, by analogy. Okay, but a movie is a succession of twenty-four frames per second, still the present moment people seem to be insistent upon THIS present moment, and no other.

    This may be only a problem of syntax and semantics though, since Eckhart Tolle has no real problem with his concept of the NOW, which, like particles or waves, may presumably be envisioned as either individual moments or a stream in flow. And, like rebirth, maybe it’s just best not to think about it too much. After all, Eckhart Tolle is not a Buddhist, anyway, and neither is much of what he says, but much also is, and the concept of NOW has much currency in the modern New Age movement. Bottom line: neither can be proven by Science, Past Lives or Present Moments. Still, I’d gladly take NOW, with all its conceptual flaws, if that could put the final nail in the coffin of rebirth. It’s time. We can deal with NOW in the next millennium, if that’s how long it takes…

     
  • hardie karges 6:42 am on April 3, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ignorance, , , past lives, , ,   

    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.

     
  • hardie karges 11:19 am on September 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    Buddhism: in the Face of Race, and Caste… 

    Buddhism is an implicit, if not explicit, rejection of any and all systems of caste and social class. Because we are only united in our imperfections and suffering. If we were all perfect, then we would have no need of each other. Which is not to say that anyone should feel slight nor slighted by the lack of perfections. And many of the Zen masters in fact claim just that, that we are all perfect, but the Buddha never said that, or anything even close to that. In fact he was quite emphatic that, when it comes to any ego, soul, or permanent and lasting self, that “there is no there there,” to quote Gertrude Stein, in reference to Oakland, CA, USA.

    And so we are all little Oaklands of the outfield, near the bleacher seats, roaming our turf with really no overriding rights to any of it. He even went so far as to refer to our skandhas, or ‘heaps,’ ‘aggregates,’ as if we were nothing more than some circumstantial piles of adjectival sand drifted up into corners, awaiting the next puff of wind to blow us a bit farther down the road, or indeed blow us right back to from where we came. In other words, all claims to divinity or even Trump’s ‘good genes’ are but the blatherings and BS of haughtiness and hubris. And so, it’s no wonder that the priestly class of India’s Brahmin caste found more work in the rites and rituals of what later came to be known as ‘Hinduism,’ though their wives were often Buddhists.

    (More …)
     
  • hardie karges 2:00 pm on February 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    The Two Major Schools of Buddhism: Past Life or Present Moment… 

    You can’t be a ‘present moment’ Buddhist and a ‘past life’ Buddhist at the same time, since the two concepts are contradictory. And this is probably more important than any modern distinction between Theravada and Mahayana, Tibetan or Zen, simply whether you believe in past lives or not, karma and rebirth supposedly the causes and effects of that process.

    So the present moment is mostly a convenient escape, with ET extending the landing chute, because no present moment really exists, any more than a past life, but the latter is more onerous than the former, which can vanish with the flick of a whisker, while the past lives will never go away, as long as it is believed in.

    Because past lives are all about predestination, and the submission to a supposedly higher will, when one is more than enough. And if this all likely began with the best of intentions, it soon became a stage prop to the caste system, i.e. racism, the idea that some are born with latent superiorities, while others are born with obvious deficiencies.

    Thus your station in life is pre-determined by the events of a previous life, and there is little you can do to change it. None of that has any basis in science, of course, the racism nor the past lives. But still we have to deal with it, day by day, the racism of Aryan superiority not only in India, but in Europe and Amerika and in the latter-day colonies Down Under.

    Predestination is the philosophical side to the same phenomena of past lives, the idea that ‘it is all written,’ notwithstanding the fact that nothing at all was written until a few thousand years ago, still the image is powerful, script on paper, replicating itself into countless lifetimes and universal ages.

    Calvin the Presbyter made great gains with a similar theory in the Western world, details left to the deacons of stupas and steeples, the main takeaway that we are not in control, PERIOD. And that might not be such a bad thing, if the ulterior motives of religion are to be taken at face value.

    After all, aren’t all religions most similar in their insistence that we subject ourselves to a higher will? For all Christianity’s eternity and infinity, the need to obey God is paramount, the only question now or later, prodigal or prescient. And so it is with Islamic submission and Hindu embrace, we Buddhists left to fill in blanks that the others have all left unfilled.

    But the ‘present moment’ is something else entirely, and at its best in countering the pernicious superstitions of karma, especially the kind that jumps generations to bounce back and bite you when you least expect it, in the next life. Belief in the present moment provides a convenient counterpart to challenge all that. I would go not nearly so far as ET in extolling its virtues, since its virtues to me are simply those of meditation, whether with single focus or field focus, the result is the same.

    To shut off the internal dialogue, even for a moment, is to return to proto-consciousness, paleo-consciousness, before language took over and came to own it. Now languages conquer peoples and acquire new lands, our hapless selves but tools of the medium, neither rare nor well done. Samma vaca is right speech. Right speech is good speech. Silence is preferable to bad speech. Words matter…

     
    • Five 7:46 am on February 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      What tradition of Buddhism were you trained in, Hardie? And is this “present moment Buddhism” something that people teach?

      You say “You can’t be a ‘present moment’ Buddhist and a ‘past life’ Buddhist at the same time” – but you can, and that is the whole point. Because the present moment never had a beginning (you recall one?) and has no end – it cannot have because it has no duration – that tells us that the “present moment”, i.e. conscious awareness, does not end at death. That’s all you need to know, you don’t need to remember past lives, or believe anything other than your experience (which is only ever of the ‘present moment’, as above, that IS your experience).

    • hardie karges 7:54 am on February 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      I have an MA in Buddhist Studies, so I am ‘trained’ in all of them. No, ‘present moment’ Buddhism is not taught, to my knowledge, unless you want to credit Eckhart Tolle with it. I use poetic license to conduct my thought experiments, in hopes of reaching a higher truth, or at least a different one. Interesting that you begin by disagreeing with me, and end by more-or-less agreeing with me. You are obviously a present moment Buddhist, if you are a Buddhist at all, good choice (even if you don’t believe in death, which is a bit of a dicey proposition)…

  • hardie karges 11:51 am on September 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    The Buddhist doctrine of Dependent Arising reconsidered… 

    Everything is a cause. Everything is an effect. We are in the middle. Find happiness there. And I think that this is very close to the original intention of the Buddhist doctrine of Dependent Arising, that there are strict causal connections between events and their aftermaths, even if the connections are maybe not as precise as some may imagine.

    Formally known in Sanskrit as प्रतीत्यसमुत्पाद pratītyasamutpāda or in Pali (the related Theravada canonical language as पटिच्चसमुप्पाद paṭiccasamuppāda, it simply means: “if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist”. Which is all well and good, as far as it goes, whether you take the doctrine as an ontological principle, on the subject of being, or as an epistemological principle, on the subject of knowledge.

    The problem arises (pun intended) when we get down to the twelve links (nidanas), which supposedly articulate this process, basically: 1) ignorance (tabula rasa?), 2) mental formations (first mental activity?), 3) consciousness (of baby-self?), 4) name-and-form (language?), 5) six senses (as distinguished from each other and mind?), 6) contact (look, listen, touch?), 7) sensation (see, hear, feel?), 8) craving, 9) clinging, 10) becoming (ch-ch-changes?), 11) birth (of a higher consciousness?), and 12) aging and death (all question marks indicate my tentative interpretations).

    The problem is that the ‘rebirthers’ (my term and slightly riffing on Trump), have long since appropriated the whole concept as justification for the predetermination and ‘multiple feedback loops’ of karma, that they find necessary to lock one into a system that rewards and punishes with future retribution and prevents the possibility of suicide as a convenient ‘one way out.’

    This notwithstanding the fact that the whole concept apparently predates Buddhism and manifested in various forms before its final version which has become the standard. But ancient terms are always subject to re-interpretation, a current fashion among pseudo-sorta-Buddhas, and of course—shazam and voila! That changes everything. Or does it?

    So I’ve always enthusiastically accepted the general concept, while remaining agnostic on the particulars as if the excessive list-making of wannabe Abhidharmists and johnny-come-lately bloggers, and left it right there unfinished, since modern physics could hardly support a version of empirical reality so obviously simplistic. But a science of mind might. And since psychology is not a science of mind, now, but a science of behavior, then the filed is wide open for speculation.

    The main problem is the first half, the interpretations of which vary widely, as evidenced from the Wikipedia source material. But I see this as a child opening his eyes for the first time and discovering the world, ‘giving names to all the animals,’ (thanks, Bob) etc., and then finally realizing that he is not only an actor on a new stage, but also a toucher, feeler, craver, clinger, thinker, and hopeful bodhisattva—all before he or she has even had his or her first romance (when it really kicks in)!

    Everything else comes after and comprises the final item in the list of mutual dependences. And only in this way do the twelve links make sense to me, though I doubt that the ‘rebirthers’ will buy it. What do you think? Birth is a product of Nature. Rebirth is a product of imagination. I try to do re-invent myself every day…

    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pratityasamutpada

     
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