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

    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 scared to die, 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.

          Oh don’t you trust me,
          don’t burden me
          with your life and affairs; don’t
          thrust me
          into your cares.

          But I think you may trust
          the sun in me
          that glows with just
          as much glow as you see
          in me, and no more.

          But if it warms
          your heart’s quick core
          why then trust it, it forms
          one faithfulness more.

          And be, oh be
          a sun to me,
          not a weary, insistent
          personality

          but a sun that shines
          and goes dark, but shines
          again and entwines
          with the sunshine in me

          till we both of us
          are more glorious
          and more sunny.

    • 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.

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

    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: , , Christian, , East, , genomics, , , religion, West   

    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)…

     
  • hardie karges 5:46 am on November 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , duality, Hate, , religion   

    The Possibilities for Peace, Love and Buddhism in a Trumpian Universe 

    I don’t hate Donald Trump the person. That would be unkind. I hate Donald Trump the concept. And there is more at stake than kindness, anyway, since it is sometimes hard to be kind toward someone who is not a kind person himself. But ultimately we’re all made of the same stuff, so to hate others is ultimately to hate yourself and hate the world we live in, imperfect though it may be, and defined by that, in fact. Even consciousness has a basis in what we call the stuff of this world, so ultimately any mind-body duality is more apparent than real, illusions of the slippery sort, and likely the basis of religion, the division of this world into self and other, mind and body, good and evil, and our attempts to reunite all the apparent opposites, that only exist because we perceive them that way, when if we could avoid them in the first place, then we would truly be a step ahead. But that is the psychic stuff that this world is made of, ‘mental formations’ in Buddhism, the hopes and fears and illusions and divisions and contradictions and emotions that I must write before they smite. But hatred, and love, are in categories by themselves. This era, too, will pass, and we will then have to decide what we’ve learned and where we go from here. But hatred is difficult to take back, un-do, or transform, so probably best avoided altogether…

     
  • hardie karges 12:36 am on October 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , control, , religion,   

    Buddhist psychology and the meaning of religion… 

    To control yourself is a Buddhist virtue. To control others is a Communist sin. And this is central to the psychology, if not the precepts, of Buddhism, the act of self-control, much to the horror of many western Buddhists, looking for bliss and passion and a free ticket to Buddha Fest, that this thing that is all the rage, too cool for school, hipper than hip and groovier than most, is really quite the opposite, mostly just sitting and avoiding confrontation, even avoiding the world entirely in the most extreme circumstances, sitting in a cave for twenty years. That’s what rishis do, even to this day. So maybe you’re a good Buddhist and you’ve got your favorite Buddhist monk, either in person or online, reading his every word with admiration and waiting with bated breath to hear just a little more. But did you ever wonder who his culture heroes are? Often it’s these rishis, sitting in caves, such that the snarky phrase ‘contemplating his navel’ takes on new meaning. What’s the point? There is no point, other than liberation, and enlightenment, and freedom from the dictates of drudgery and public opinion. The problem occurs when the virtue of self-control gets twisted into the perverse logic of controlling others, as though this is a logical corollary, when nothing could be further from the truth. So Buddhist countries are some of the least free in the world, presumably because governments know they have a docile populace, and pervert that virtue into a deadly sin. That’s not religion. To see the world as a child is to see it with awe and wonder, open mouth optional, rapture not required. This is religion.

     
  • hardie karges 2:44 pm on August 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: binary, , digital, , , , , , religion   

    The Golden Mean is an Irrational Number–and so are our lives… 

    Growth is easy–more more bigger bigger. Loss is even easier–zip zero nada. Holding steady is the hard part, avoiding all extremes. And this applies at all levels, from the steady state of the universe to the steady state of our psyches, most of which is a fleeting illusion, but still applicable nevertheless, for this is more than a simple survival strategy, but a metaphysical principle, that there is a somewhat meandering middle path that is always capable of yielding more benefits than the extremist positions that promise deliverance or salvation of some kind or other, whether political, social or religious. Buddhism is famous for this, of course, without which its major tenets can sometimes resemble those of the Jains if not Hindus themselves, ‘real’ Indians, born of high caste, Sanskrit, and spicy food. But the principle applies in almost all cases, notwithstanding the modern digital paradigm of zeros and ones that underlie computing in which a binary number system’s on-off capability approximates that of electric switching, resulting in a new electronic digital dimension that powers our modern daily lives. That only accentuates the point I want to make, because there’s more to life than math, and a digital dimension is artificial. Because between every two polar extremes there is a whole rainbow of possibilities, one of which will offer the optimal solution in any given set of circumstances. So there is a myriad of possible realities, but one is usually best, neither poverty nor luxury, neither the non-existence of nihilism nor the infinite existence of a permanent enduring soul traveling in both time and space. But these are points that can be parsed to the limits of our patience and imaginations. Belief is not required. That is one of the benefits of philosophy over religion. You can pick and choose, to see what works best. The difference between religion and philosophy is that religions have members…

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

    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 7:31 am on April 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , religion   

    Fear and Awe, Recipes and Sutras… 

    Half of all religion is based on fear, fear of dying and fear of flying, fear of failure and fear of success. The other half is based on awe, whether awful or awesome, it really doesn’t matter to an emotion junkie, a feelings philanderer, ready to take a lashing for passion and come back for more, sight unseen. Because that’s half the rush, the adrenaline rush, that quest for novelty and the thrill of victory, over trivial obstacles and deliberate roadblocks, fear of the unknown conquered by insatiable thirst. But that’s a recipe for disaster, the craving for conditions with no concern for the consequences. Surely there must be a better way, a happy Buddhist medium between the extremes of delight or despair. Just curious: If I forgo the laughter, can I forgo the tears? Asking for a friend…

     
  • hardie karges 5:07 am on March 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , religion   

    Making Do in Trumplandia: Religion and Politics… 

    Build bridges not walls, trust not fear, paths without obstacles, hope not despair. And that’s usually seen as the job of politics, economics and policy decisions, creating a more just and better world, usually by creating more money, by creating constant growth, assuming that there are no limits, and planning accordingly, as if oil flows from the ground without end, as if resources are infinite, as if populations can multiply indefinitely with no repercussions. But it doesn’t always work out that way. The obstacles are many and the heroes are few. Sometimes there is simply nothing that you can do; or at least it seems that way. Then philosophy takes over from politics, and religion grows wings. We count our blessings, not our money, and expect nothing from others. Because when the world seems like a cruel place, sometimes the only thing we can do is to change our relation to it; expect less and appreciate more. My neo-Buddhist attitude is pretty simple: If you can’t change the world, then change the narrative…

     
  • hardie karges 4:10 am on January 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ICE, , , , , , religion   

    Buddhism and Donald Trump, Criminal Intent and Modern Justice 

    img_2116Intent is the elephant in the courtroom of modern justice, beyond forensics and beyond genetics, the need to know what someone was thinking and why they thought it, at such-and-such a time and such-and-such a place. But isn’t this a system doomed to failure? And is it really necessary? Only we European-derived Westerners could invent a term like schadenfreude, delight in the misfortune of others, not so much the passive enjoyment of something such so strange, but that we do it so often that we have a name for it…

    But that is indeed the case, that we are so obsessed with our feelings that our whole system of justice is based upon it, such that if someone is supposedly repentant, then that counts in his favor, whereas without it he is doomed to longer incarceration, as if we could really know the difference, so to make ourselves feel good we reward the best actors, and maybe the most honest are doomed to perdition… (More …)

     
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