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  • hardie karges 11:24 am on July 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , inanition, , , , philosophy, , secular Buddhism, , ,   

    The Rocky Middle Path of Buddhism in America… 

    “Give me liberty or give me death” is America’s battle cry for independence, of course, as so brilliantly elucidated by Patrick Henry, and seconded by many others, notably the license plate slogan ‘Live Free or Die,’ among many others of similar emotion. And by ‘America’ I mean the USA, not the lower 40, though they are largely complicit, as is Europe the mother country, in the case of North America, which lacks the large indigenous base of many of the other more southern countries. Even Mexico is around 65% indigenous the last time I checked.

    And freedom is all well and good, as long as we know the details of the liberties and freedoms referred to, but which can be detrimental, and even deadly, if left for imaginations to run wild and machinations to double down in derailing the original intent of a simple life without a lord and master to serve at every beck and call. So now we consider mask-lessness as an inalienable right, even during a pandemic, ditto vaccines, and any restriction on movement during the same world emergency to be a violation. So the Western insistence on freedom to the maximum extent comes very close to an implicit death wish.

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  • hardie karges 8:36 am on July 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , philosophy, , ,   

    Musings on the Buddhist Concept of Shunyata: Emptiness Ain’t So Empty… 

    Stephen Hawking was famous for saying that ‘Black holes ain’t so black,’ and so the title here is more than a little bit coincidental, and in fact quite intentional, because the meanings of the two concepts—black holes and ‘shunyata’—are quite similar. Because if the Buddhist concept of ‘shunyata’ is usually translated as ‘emptiness,’ then that is by an English layman’s choice, and is not necessarily the best choice. And if that choice supposes that Buddhism is nihilistic, and that life is meaningless, then nothing could be further from the truth.

    For Buddhism, and Indian philosophy in general, in fact has a long rich and varied history, and every bit the equal of its Greek counterpart on the other side of the great divide between East and West, even if the former is perhaps more spiritual and the latter more materialistic. But they share much common ground for thought, and this is probably no accident, considering that they both shared the northern steppes for a few thousand years and probably shared a few long discussions and debates before blazing campfires, in a proto-Indo-European language, before going their separate ways some 6-8000 years ago.

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  • hardie karges 9:54 am on June 20, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bill Gates, , , , , , , philosophy,   

    Karma is not a B*tch; She is Mother Nature… 

    I made the coffee too strong, and got too excited, so I spilled it accidentally, and now everything’s fine–Life 492…

    That is a simple enough little ditty, now, isn’t it? On one level it’s just a description of another manic Monday living in the USA, down in jungle land, for what it’s worth. And on another level it’s a brief glimpse into the horrors of the caffeine addiction to which I’ve relapsed after successfully divorcing myself from that horrible fate—or so I thought. And on an even different level it’s a description of life itself, as the joking attribution suggests.

    But on a higher level it also says something about Karma, not the Karma of retribution that speaks to the need of some religions for punishment, if not by some God, then by some force, or doctrine. For isn’t monotheism really the replacement of deities by doctrine, so more than the reduction in godheads, really more of an increase in letterheads? And it’s not a Karma of simple cause and effect, which is really more like a business transaction than a connection with a higher force.

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  • hardie karges 10:23 am on June 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: beauty, , , , goodness, , philosophy, , , , truth   

    Buddhism in the Facebook Era: Truth Falls Flat in the Face of Entertainment 

    I’ve often said that the ultimate quest in a human’s life—my life—is for truth, beauty and goodness, with the implication being that this is the proper field of inquiry for religion and philosophy. But is that what really happens? Beauty isn’t so hard nor controversial, since we tend to all have similar views on what inspires feelings of beauty, if not art, within us, and not dissimilar to the quick and easy Internet definition on MS Bing: “a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.”

    That sounds about right, now, doesn’t it? And even more so when slightly modified to allow that this combination of qualities might also “please the intellect or moral sense.” Cool. Sounds good to me. I think that we can all agree on that. And the concept of goodness dovetails nicely into that concept of beauty, such that it almost serves the chief purpose of clarifying exactly what we mean when we talk about goodness or simply ‘the good.’ And that’s exactly what the ancient Greek philosophers talked about, they who basically invented the term ‘philosophy,’ and for whom the definition of ‘goodness’ was something like: “you’ll know it when you see it.”

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  • hardie karges 11:18 am on June 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , chesed, , Indus Valley, Kama Sutra, , Malcolm Gladwell, , , , philosophy, , , Vedantic,   

    Buddhist Sutra on Passion and Dispassion… 

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

    Now I make no secret of the fact that I don’t think that Buddhism is necessarily any better than any other religion, philosophy, or way of life. But it is the right one for the right time. And it is no accident that it took me more than half my life (and counting) to finally make the switch from an eclectic form of ersatz Christianity to an equally eclectic form of Buddhism, however much more authentic, I reckon. After all I never got my MA in Christian Studies, though I guess all my liberal arts courses and BA in philosophy is probably as much as that, if not more.

    But neither Buddhism nor Christianity exists in a vacuum, so what we get is a mix of the original intent in its original environment, full of causes and conditions, situations and circumstances, inspirations and misgivings, as combined with the mandates of the mandarins, the rulings of the rulers, the laws of the legislators and the cravings of the consumer. Caveat emptor. But the salient point is that both are but the metaphysical underpinnings and psychological overtones of something much larger, equally symbolic and patently manifest.

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  • hardie karges 12:45 pm on November 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Ecclesiastes, Gurkha, , Nepalese, Pete Seeger, philosophy, , , The Byrds   

    Buddhism by the Book: Circular Arguments in Cyclical Existence… 

    “In springtime grow flowers. In summer grow fruit. In autumn count blessings. In winter take root,” I once said in a playful moment. In Christianity, of course, that sentiment is made famous in the quote, “To everything there is a season,” as originally expounded in the Biblical selection Ecclesiastes 3: 1-13, and brilliantly revised early in my lifetime in the work of Pete Seeger’s “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” and made famous by The Byrds, back when they were skinny.

    The meaning and essence of the thought expressed, of course, is the rhythm and circularity of the seasons. But I think it works equally well in Buddhism, or any other belief system, for that matter, in that by extrapolation, it perhaps can apply to the entire universe.

    We know little of the universe, though, so it is usually visualized in its macrocosmic view as planets in motion, even if the reality is equally a microcosm, if not more so, i.e. particles. But in its macro view, we see the revolution of moons around planets around stars around a poorly defined black hole center, and that is usually enough to convince us that there is at least some order to the universe, with or without an omnipotent creator, with or without an omniscient plan, aka ‘intelligent design.’

    This is again one of the pet projects of fundamentalist Christians, notwithstanding the likelihood that a God of true engineering capabilities could have come up with many mind-blowing designs, rather than the same one over and over with design adaptations that can easily be explained by natural selection if not epigenetics.

    But most Buddhists find their circularity in various iterations of the theme of rebirth and past lives, something which was never really the Buddha’s Big Idea, but which he’d have likely been foolish to reject, but not the latter-day obsession with it, in an almost inverse proportion to its scientific viability.

    But that is the difference between religion and philosophy, that religion craves certainty, even where no certainty exists, and not casual musings, or even a healthy dialectic. Scientists have no such illusions. And the best philosophers are scientists, and vice versa, with or without the background in math or Plato.

    So physicists today get an undefined Dark Matter occupying most of the universe, philosophers get Wittgenstein’s defenestration of language, and Buddhists after 2500 years get a soft pad on a cold floor with some bloke blabbing in the background, when I’d really rather meditate ‘like the Buddha did’—silently.

    In almost every ancient Buddhist text, if you translate ‘samsara’ as ‘the world’ instead of ‘cyclic existence,’ it stills makes as much, if not more, perfect sense. Coincidentally the language which today preserves more Sanskrit than any other language, Nepalese aka Gurkha, uses the word ‘sansara’ to mean ‘the world,’ no accident. In Hindi they use ‘dunia,’ from the Arabic. They probably got tired of cyclic existence. But let’s not argue. The only thing to argue for is the end of all argument. That is the only cyclic existence that I know…

     
  • hardie karges 12:04 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , bicameralism, , , , philosophy, , ,   

    Buddhism and the Bicameral Mind: License or Liberation? 

    True freedom is not license. True freedom is liberation. And if that at first glance sounds like some little word game that a poor man’s Alan Watts might play, on further notice, in fact it reveals a fundamental difference between ‘mind-sets,’ if not belief systems. For it is more than just the difference in a couple of letters that define the difference between the words ‘from’ and ‘to.’ It is indeed a world of difference, not just the difference between East and West, Buddhism and Christianity, but possibly—and ultimately—the difference between the right and left sides of the brain.

    According to the American Psychological Association: “The terms “left-brained” and “right-brained” have come to refer to personality types in popular culture, with an assumption that people who use the right side of their brains more are more creative, thoughtful and subjective, while those who tap the left side more are more logical, detail-oriented and analytical.”

    And then they go on to pooh-pooh that notion while at the same time admitting that “Language tends to be on the left, attention more on the right.” So how would you know, anyway, whether a person is one or the other? This is the big clue: Right-brained people are left-handed and vice versa. Boom. Hopefully those of us who are ambidextrous, Geminis, or at least switch-hitters can maybe find work as a Jack-of-all-trades, if not a Jill-of-one-special-one.

    But the point is that we’re talking about two different kinds of freedom when we talk about the freedom ‘from’ as opposed to the freedom ‘to’. The one is liberation, while the other is license. One is the traditional goal of all Eastern philosophy, while the other is the traditional goal of all Western philosophy. One allows you to gloriously do nothing, since you are now free of those prior obligations that demanded something of you.

    The other implies that you really should do something, regardless, not just that you have the right to, but in fact almost an obligation to act upon Nature, rather than just passively accept it. One is Buddhist, while the other is Christianity, which thought has largely dominated the modern world of technology and skyscrapers and restless hearts and minds.

    But now we know definitively, by genome analysis, that those early Indian Buddhists and those early Roman Christians were in fact not-so-distant cousins of the same original fathers, if not mothers. And both had their dealings with Greeks, bearing gifts or not. Does that mean that indeed these are possibly the differences of left-brain and right-brain, according to two different given sets of circumstances?

    If so, then we can access our right-brain Buddhist feminine capabilities to undo the damage that our left-brain Christian Capitalist macho tendencies have foisted upon us, understandable given a young world feeling its teenage oats for the first time, my version of racehorse theory. Nirvana is freedom. Freedom has responsibilities. So now we have come full circle…

     
    • TheFlowIntoWords 1:33 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting topic! I loved Julian Jaynes book “Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind”.

      From my limited understanding, I see Buddhism as opening our eyes to the freedom we have from the “need” to do anything. This gives us a grasp of free-will. No longer is it I “must”/“need” to do X.

      For me Christianity sort of stepped into that newly opened space. Jesus’s teachings on radical love are beautiful to me. They are helping me see the beauty I “want” to grow and nourish in myself, others, and the world. I no longer feel I need to or should be doing anything in particular. I feel I am finally free to see the deep beauty of everything. And free to follow what the beauty inspires within me because I want to.

      • hardie karges 1:47 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, I read Jaynes’ book way back when, and liked it, though this scrib is a different take, of course. Life and the world are beautiful, per Jesus, but they are suffering, per the Buddha. Who is right? They both are, I suppose, though we will all die, no eternal life, so I am Buddhist, not Christian. But I like the dialectic between the two, so utilize it often. Christianity was right for its time. Buddhism is right for these times IMHO. Christianity’s capitalist conquest mentality gives us global warming, so that is not sustainable. Eventually I think we will achieve a successful mix of the two, hopefully without another pandemic. Thanks for your comments…

        • TheFlowIntoWords 2:40 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink

          I also suspect we will achieve a successful mix of the two one day. Both have such deep wisdom to offer.

        • hardie karges 2:41 pm on October 18, 2020 Permalink

          Yes, I agree…

    • Dylan Raines 11:01 pm on October 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Wonderful thoughts. I see true freedom as being something which produces the qualities of compassion, generosity, contentment, peace, etc. The freedom simply to do anything without consequence is a freedom that usually has some fear attached with it. I think the more we allow people to be free, letting go of attempting to control others, the more we capable of encouraging one another to move into a place of true freedom.

      • hardie karges 8:38 am on October 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Sounds good to me. Thanks for your comments…

  • hardie karges 7:36 am on July 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , philosophy, ,   

    Buddhism: Religion or Philosophy? 

    Many wars are fought in the name of religion. Very few are fought in the name of philosophy (Yes, I know there’s Communism and Capitalism and Democracy, etc., but I still maintain that the numbers are less). And this is an important distinction, especially with regards to Buddhism, which is essentially an open doctrine, and so has taken on many different forms, depending on the prior belief systems, and the general lay of the land, genetic predisposition, and special needs.

    It should be no surprise, though, that what any one people need is often far from what they think they want, indeed often the opposite, so this is a decision sometimes best left to high priests and palace intellectuals, who can see beyond the crass cravings and narrow proclivities of the mass populace and serve them the medicine they deserve, rather than the sweet nothings they crave.

    So violent Europeans get a religion of peace and love, sex-obsessed Arabs get a veil and no lipstick, while Asians obsessed with possessions and prestige get religions of renunciation. But they all get future options, one way or another, whether it’s eternal life, rebirth, or six dozen virgins all waiting with bated breath. In the case of Buddhism, though, it isn’t supposed to be that way.

    The stated goal is nirvana, often described as escape from the ‘wheel of rebirth.’ In other words, we Buddhists should be working to liberate ourselves from this realm of suffering, which is usually best mitigated, and seldom for celebration, and certainly not for clinging to. This is why many Christians criticize Buddhism as ‘life-denying’, in sharp contrast to their version of Christianity, touted as ‘life-affirming.’ This distinction and dichotomy can even be further cheapened as one of pessimism vs. optimism.

    But is that really intellectually and spiritually honest for a culture that lives for aggression and competition and whose history is replete with slavery? Or is it more like an emotional see-saw that wastes lives and centuries over the litigation of passions, striving and struggling, and is never truly ‘life-affirming’ except when victorious over the other contenders to power?

    Not so many centuries ago, Christianity, too, was a religion of renunciation, as can be claimed for both Hinduism and Buddhism, with or without a belief in an eternal self or soul. In other words, we are all afraid of death, and the religion—or philosophy—that can answer that basic need will have a leg up on all the rest. So Buddhism attempts the impossible, to have rebirth with no soul, eternal life with no clinging, all with mixed results.

    And agnosticism is often criticized as a non-decision, but intellectually it is probably the only honest way, and thus in that sense, more philosophy than religion. Because religion depends upon divine intervention for spiritual fulfillment, and that is certainly not necessary in Buddhism. Here’s a thought experiment: Would you believe in soul or self if you had never looked in a mirror? Try to imagine what life was like before those long preening sessions gazing upon your reflection became central to your self-perception…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 12:49 pm on July 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      “But they all get future options … In the case of Buddhism, though, it isn’t supposed to be that way.

      I’m sure this is right, though wonder if the promised release of Buddhism in effect makes the future an irrelevance?

      • hardie karges 1:39 pm on July 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        It should be irrelevant, certainly, but old habits die hard, I guess, and I’m not sure why there is a clinging to personality, to be honest. I can understand the fear of death, just like the fear of anything new and uncertain. But if I were to be reborn I’d hope to be someone entirely disconnected from the present incarnation. Honestly a dimension of light sounds quite nice, and that is my definition of heaven…

        • Dave Kingsbury 2:10 pm on July 28, 2020 Permalink

          Sounds good to me, whether or not consciousness persists. As to ‘personality’, hope you forgive this upload of a DH Lawrence poem …

          Trust

          Oh we’ve got to trust
          one another again
          in some essentials.

          Not the narrow little
          bargaining trust
          that says: I’m for you
          if you’ll be for me. –

          But a bigger trust,
          a trust of the sun
          that does not bother
          about moth and rust,
          and we see it shining
          in one another.

    • Alexis Adder 1:25 pm on July 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      The thing I found with American Christians (Not all forms of Christianity) is that it denies death and ignores it. While this sounds harmless, it is in fact dangerous. We have created a culture which sees sex as worse than death and violence. A culture where death is not taken seriously enough and creates sociopathy among the regular population. Where violence is no big deal. But people being born gay, that certainly is!

      In my Shin Buddhism path, one of the things I say to myself everyday is “I am of the nature to die”, “I am of the nature to be ill.”, and “I am of the nature to grow old.”. I accept reality as it is. (I also am a bit morbid and love gothic stuff!) I found the way Buddhism as a whole focuses on death, everything from being eaten by vultures to being mummified, to be much more realistic.

      But because of my Christian indoctrination I used to have the same hang ups about violence and sex. It took me exposing myself to real violence, even if it was on video, to realize just how bad violence is. It made me accept sex more and become more tolerant. And made me appreciate life as it is. This sounds stupid, but it has a lot to do with my cultural programming by Christians from an early age.

    • hardie karges 3:36 pm on July 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, there is no fact more central to life than death, which is proof of the Buddhist recognition of the prevalence of suffering, IMHO. Violence, fortunately, can be mitigated, but death cannot. I don’t accept violence as normal. It’s not. Any two species can coexist peacefully if raised together since birth, and provided adequate food. Thanks for your comments.

    • Norbert 1:01 am on August 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I guess this whole conversation needs a sober reality check, based on solid empirical data instead of wild speculation. For a useful start, see https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2020-08-11/religion-giving-god?utm_medium=newsletters&utm_source=twofa&utm_campaign=Giving%20Up%20on%20God&utm_content=20200821&utm_term=FA%20This%20Week%20-%20112017

      • hardie karges 10:31 am on August 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Good article, especially the parts about reliance on high birthrates, which I feel is necessary to overcome, if there is to be a future. The fact that world population has tripled in my lifetime is not lost on me. i’m not sure if they have fully accounted for the changes that may come with Covid-19, though, especially if it goes on for 2-3 years. There certainly won’t be any normalcy for that length of time, if not longer. It’s fine by me either way, since I need no creator God, and the world is my family. Buddhism is largely an open doctrine, so it can be secular or God-filled, and still work for many adherents. The important thing is for the individual to step back and acknowledge his smallness in the midst of vastness, and act accordingly. Thanks for your comments, Norbert…

    • quotidian2911 3:13 am on September 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Very deep insights!!!! Loved it

      • hardie karges 10:12 am on September 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks!

  • hardie karges 11:59 am on May 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , female, male, philosophy,   

    Religion and Philosophy, Male and Female, Christianity and Buddhism… 

    Most people don’t want the truth. They want false hopes and fantasy, pie in the sky, with whipped cream and a cherry on top. And this is the basis for much, if not most, religion, the deferred gratification, since the rewards on this flat earth were so few and far between, and best found in something hard and sharp like the point of a knife or gun than in something round and soft like you-know-what.

    And that passed for cultural evolution at the time, that big men could lord it all over the rest of us, especially women, with their long pointy things and their never-ending greed for things they shouldn’t have, like gold and guns, while the rest of us made do with gardens and guilds, the society of friends and the abundance of greens, ripe for the taking in manicured rows, fruits to come later with buttons and bows.

    The goddesses ruled for such a short time, only long enough to populate this earth, before the seeds rebelled against the mother and the pistols attacked the pistils, stamens with limited stamina jealous of the good-natured receptionist who is open to all comers, irrespective of race or religion, and no need of too-flowery introductions, just a future of forgiveness with the calling card of compassion.

    But that’s not good enough for weekend warriors and wicked messengers, looking to spread their hatred with their seed and steed, incubating hatred with each thrust of a sword and each word of a book, forcing the forlorn to bow to such rude entreaties, when a simple request might easily suffice.

    But most men instinctively know that they are not needed, though they’d never admit it, just one or two for breeding purposes should be plenty, and the rest are best kept as mute slaves or blind poets, philosophers and freedmen by application and approval only. Religion goes bad in the hands of warriors, like milk goes bad when allowed too long outside.

    There have been countless wars of religion, therefore, and no wars of philosophy ever, not even one, but who’s counting? Because the world is round now, not flat or square, like stupas, not steeples, Buddhist not Vedic, or God forbid Christian.

    That religion is male, the sword and the book, but philosophy is female, the reconciliation of opposites, with words stroked not stoked. Philosophy is based on freedom, within limits, of biology and psychology. Religion is based on fear.

     
    • Yetzer Hara 1:15 pm on May 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I’ll say that Judaism and Islam are Torah Observant, Hebraic religions. Christianity however is an effeminate religion that emasculates the Godhead and is Hellenic in nature and origin. In fact the Roman Church elevates the Virgin above the Godhead making the Goddess superior.

      • hardie karges 1:20 pm on May 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Christianity is also Hebraic, same God, same history, even if Roman Catholicism may indeed have its feminine side with the Virgin Mary. Protestantism definitely goes back to the original masculine orientation…

        • Yetzer Hara 1:26 pm on May 3, 2020 Permalink

          Rome after conquering a nation incorporated the religion of that nation into the Imperial Roman cult. The invention of Paul of Tarsus, the bastardization of the Torah with the Septuagint, formed Christianity, a Greek/Hellenic religion, not a Hebraic religion. There is no confusion between the two modes of thought!

  • hardie karges 12:48 pm on February 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , genomics, philosophy, , ,   

    Buddhism East and West: It’s All in Your Mind (hint hint)… 

    The meeting of east and west occurs in my mind every day, on a good day, and that’s the way it should be, a smorgasbord of delights and selections, delicacies and confections, on display for the life choices that I relish as a symbol of my free will, which is only partial, of course, but still significant, because without it, we are just slaves on the plantation, where all the food goes elsewhere, and the dignity mostly goes lacking. And this is now proven, more or less, that the paradigms of East and West have little to do with East and West, really, which are not so different, after all, in terms of longitude and latitude, landscape or race, but almost total opposites conceptually, amid the hardening of positions and platitudes, and after the passing of time and space, so much so that they could almost seem like each others’ own devil’s advocates, merely taking a position for the sake of argument, as if that might be the only way that thought can progress beyond its proto-consciousness of silent awareness, itself blessed and sublime, but maybe a bit too boring for the troubled teenager with places to go and things to do, and who must be accommodated at least somewhat for the sake of the species and all the future repercussions to be encountered. So we stake out positions for the sake of the view, just to see what happens, in this bold experiment of biological life, in which consciousness becomes a dialogue and dialectic, rather than a far more simple acceptance of things as they merely are. So genetic science now proves it, that not only are the Brahmins of India and the Christians of the West intimately related, but that in fact we are all related as humans, not just by common analogy and metaphor, but literally, by DNA, both maternal and paternal, as the lines get crossed and history moves forward, on knees both bent and bandied, starving for succor and begging for forgiveness. And this is where religion comes in, because this is the challenge of all religion, all philosophy, all psychology, all sustained thought that trickles down to individual human consciousness or bubbles up from the same, which is to sustain us with words both momentous and motivational, both trivial and triumphant, now that language has captured consciousness and no return is possible. Because religions aren’t all about truth, except of the kind that can be agreed to upon faith of conviction and threat of excommunication, so nothing to do with the trials of empiricism and the results of experimentation. Religion is all about feeling good, in this life and this world, even if the means for that is the promise of a better world, or the promise of release. Either choice can bring the desired results, in brief: Don’t be angry at the past. Be hopeful for the future (and don’t forget to find some peace in the present)…

     
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