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  • hardie karges 10:52 am on June 12, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , catuhskoti, , global hunger, , , Law of Excluded Middle, , Plato,   

    Buddhist Dependent Origination and the Law of Excluded Middle 

    We worry about Global Warming, and even Global Hunger, but what about Global Hatred and Global Anger? Because the seeds of one are in the other, and there really is no solution short of a comprehensive solution. I mean, is there any real likelihood that Global Warming could ever be solved without also solving other global problems at the same time? It’s not likely. Such is the nature of the Buddhist Law of Dependent Origination, that we are caught in a web of causal connections, even if the details are sometimes best left to the imagination.

    Because the Buddha’s world was one based largely on perception, and introspection, in that order, from the simplest to the most complex, and in which rationality was something radical and revolutionary. But that’s exactly what the Buddha attempted, a full two hundred years before Aristotle, albeit with mixed results. Because Aristotelian logic is an ‘either/or’ choice between any proposition and its negation. There is no middle option with the Law of the Excluded Middle. But Buddhism is all about that middle option, that sweet spot between extremes.

    So, Buddhist logic, aka catuhskoti, aka tetralemma, in addition to the proposition and its negation, also allows both—or neither. Given such logical options, pure perception is likely to be the more accurate description of reality. And that’s what Buddha attempts with the twelve nidanas that comprise the Buddhist Law of Dependent Origination. But words can’t accurately describe a law of nature, so the progression from ignorance, formation, consciousness, name and form, etc., may not necessarily make total sense in the particulars what makes perfect sense in general.

    The Buddha’s path of knowledge was deep introspection, which is the best that you can do without science. Einstein was a master of it with his thought experiments. And Plato did much the same with his Socratic dialogs, forerunner to the modern dialectic of Hegel and others. Jesus’s parables and the Buddha’s sutras accomplish much the same thing, but more in the personal and ethical sphere than in scientific breakthroughs. Einstein’s ‘happiest moment’ and ‘biggest blunder’ were special relativity and the Cosmological Constant, respectively. The Buddha’s were the middle path and the underestimation of women. He was only human, after all.

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

    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 10:23 am on June 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: beauty, , , , goodness, , , Plato, , , 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 12:50 pm on May 23, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Echkart Tolle, , , Hawking, , , , Plato, Wittgenstein,   

    Pandemic Sutra on the Concept of Change in Buddhism 

    The Buddha wasn’t perfect, and he knew that, regardless of the speculations of some later Mahayanists and their need for transcendent divinity of which the earthly manifestations are just that—nasty, mean, brutish, and short, like life with the sea serpent Leviathan of Hobbes without Calvin. Why else would he have referred to us as no-soul ‘heaps’ of inconsequential ‘skandhas’ with little to commend us but the causes and conditions to which we are subject and of which we are so much a part?

    Zen troublemakers took the Mahayana transcendental position a step further by claiming perfection for all of us, but I’m not sure how that works out except as a point of convergence with some Christian transcendentalists who also think similarly, and so might actually save the world from its own self-destruction if enough people from enough different places could ever agree on any one thing for long enough for us to stop fighting and allow the world to heal from our destructive abuse of it.

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  • hardie karges 2:14 am on November 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Greta, hope, , need, Plato   

    The Algebra of Need, and the Calculus of Hope… 

    When one door closes, another one opens. It has to, to let some light in.We can’t exist in darkness, not for long, anyway, nor can we exist without opportunities, and if circumstances don’t provide those outlets, then our minds, or our collective mind, will have to provide it, because it’s not clear what mind really is, or how it differs from our singular specific brain functions, we only know it as an all-embracing continuum of consciousness, regardless of whether ultimately that continuum is composed of minute atomistic particles of consciousness, or not, because the only way to analyze it is with consciousness itself, so something of a feedback loop results, in which the thing as observer and observed cannot be distinguished for proper analysis. But the light is necessary, regardless, and from outside, because our minds may be able to create opportunity from the flimsiest excuses, but light is an essential physical requirement for life, and consciousness, even if only the tiniest spark from the most diminutive flicker. A prison cell with a window to the outside is not a prison cell at all, even in solitary confinement, because there is always that patch of blue or flicker of gold to send spirits soaring or feelings flying toward heights yet unimagined or distances yet to be traversed. So we exist in Plato’s cave subsisting on shadows, because they seem so real, when something even more real is right beyond our range of perception, waiting to be discovered–or not. There are no guarantees, and false hopes die hardest, so maybe it’s best to keep expectations realistic, given the high percentage of failures. We are all canaries in this bloody coal mine. Sorry about that, Greta…

  • hardie karges 7:51 pm on April 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Plato, , ,   

    The multi-colored reality between dreams and darkness… 

    Just because you can imagine something doesn’t mean that it’s real. And this has been a problem since time immemorial, especially in the fields of philosophy and religion, the gap between reality and imagination, the disparate levels of materialism and spirituality. This plays to the difference between our wildest dreams and our harshest realities, and apparently it all began with language. If something can be written down, then doesn’t it exist, at least to some extent? Of course it does, but that does define reality? Probably not. Plato found that out the hard way, ditto Christianity, and Buddhism deals with it on a daily basis.This is the arrogance of the written word, and the thinking mind, by the same token. We need a better measure of reality, and science would seem to be the answer, the method, constantly shifting, nothing to do with anything like blind allegiance. Sorry, grasshopper. Your dreams can’t all come true. So I guess a few will have to do…

  • hardie karges 5:24 am on October 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Euclid, Fibonacci, , golden mean, golden ratio, , Plato, , ,   

    Zero, Emptiness and the Golden Mean of Buddhism… 

    img_1935The concept of the Golden Mean always crossed my mind when studying Buddhism, but I never heard anyone reference it re: the Middle Path, i.e. madhyamagga, until recently, and while I’m not sure the reference is entirely correct, I do think the possibilities are exciting. In fact the Golden Ratio (a probably more accurate term) is 1.618, “a special number found by dividing a line into two parts so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is also equal to the whole length divided by the longer part”—Wikipedia

    This is also the foundation of the famous Fibonacci sequence, ubiquitous as a design principle in nature, and known to humans as early as Plato and Euclid, who was first to define it, and celebrated initially because for some reason it just looks good, or somehow feels right, notwithstanding the fact that it is by definition always a bit eccentric, i.e. off-center…

    And in fact the concept of center did not fully even exist at the time, before the invention of zero, so only geometrically as the fixed point of a radius, but not mathematically as a divider and multiplier for ever-increasing levels of exponential counting, literally ‘powers of zero’, or ‘powers of ten’, if you prefer, in addition to forming something of a ‘dead center’ or ‘ground zero’ mathematically, which can be repeated infinitely as decimals for each and every member of the count… (More …)

  • hardie karges 5:59 am on July 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Myth of the Cave, Plato, , Tham Luang, The Republic,   

    Buddhism and the Allegory of the Cave… 

    IMG_2747Plato’s ‘Allegory (or Myth) of the Cave’ is one of the great works of speculative philosophy, and very special to those who love his work, equal in thought and substance to Jesus’s parables, Einstein’s ‘thought experiments, or the Buddhist sutras, IMHO. This is the starting point to Platonic idealism, much of which was incorporated into Christianity in the early Roman era, until they finally got hip to the more worldly work of Aristotle. Hey, things take time…

    Anyway, for the uninitiated, the gist of the work is the setting in which we are inhabitants of a cave, a fire as our only source of light, and unable to turn our heads, so essentially a black-and-white two-dimensional version of reality. But the prisoners of the cave don’t know that, so they assume that this is all there is, and is an accurate representation of reality. What they don’t know is that there is a big colorful world outside to which this internal world literally pales in comparison…
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  • hardie karges 7:48 am on January 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , EckfardtbTolle, , , , , , Plato, , , , , Tibetan, ,   

    Buddhist Back-Story: Dialectics and Linguistics… 

    img_1935Theravada Buddhism has it easy, when it comes to dhamma (dharma) talks, just pull out the old mind-kilesa-breath-nose-navel-‘Buddho Buddho Buddho’ playbook, rinse and repeat, hard to screw up unless you want to get into the murky afterbirth of past lives and kamma (karma), doing Yogic headstands and plotting Ptolemaic cosmic epicycles, trying to explain how anatta (non-self) somehow gets reborn, when there really is nothing there to begin with. But still they do. It’s embarrassing, especially when some of the same ones…

    …get all goo-goo-eyed at the mention of ‘this present moment’, which I agree with, if not to the extent that some would take it. So how can you have both, not only within the same school of Buddhism, but within the same person, e.g. the Dalai (not Theravada) Lama? I can find you quotes of him advocating ‘nowness’ while Eckhart Tolle was still sleeping on sofas, and at the same time opining that if someone’s life hasn’t quite worked out right, then it’s because of something they did in a past life—ouch! What gives? (More …)

    • Dave Kingsbury 4:00 pm on January 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Like any long-lived belief system, I suppose, as complex as people and societies are themselves. The Science connection seems an interesting extension …

      • hardie karges 10:54 pm on January 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, It’s amazing to me that the original Buddhist debate, basically liberal vs. conservative, is still alive today, after countless twists and turns, and analogous to something similar in politics, which is all well and good, I think, as long as everyone can be polite and civilized about it…

        • Dave Kingsbury 2:34 am on January 30, 2018 Permalink

          Indeed. The questions arising from reincarnation are the ones I struggle with. My best shot is to view it as metaphor and therefore helpful for perspective and even humour.

  • hardie karges 10:23 am on July 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Plato, , , YouTube   

    #Samadhi for non-#Buddhists and Children of the #Matrix: Turn it down!!! 

    It seems that the movie “The Matrix” has done for the current generation what “Plato’s Cave” did for one almost 2500 years ago, inspiring countless thinkers and wannabe prophets to poke beyond the edges of the common-sense world, just to see if there was anything there, knowing that there would be no sure answers, but an enduring love of the questions, and inspiring narratives that would make any Homer, Shakespeare, Hugo or Cervantes take notice… (More …)

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