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  • hardie karges 11:19 am on September 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , religion, ,   

    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.

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  • hardie karges 8:30 am on August 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , logos, Persia, religion   

    Was Heraclitus the Original Buddhist? 

    Was Heraclitus the Original Buddhist? If not, he certainly missed a good opportunity, because it was he who once said: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river, and he’s not the same man.” And a clearer and more succinct articulation of the Buddhist principles of anatta and anicca have never been spoken, the former best defined as ‘non-self’ or ‘no self,’ particularly in the sense of a permanent eternal soul like that of the contemporaneous Brahmanic religion, or Hinduism, as we now know it. But of course Heraclitus was not a Buddhist, per se, but a philosopher of change, and maybe best known for his other famous quote: “The only thing permanent is change.”

    And so he tackles two major Buddhist themes—self and change—with no knowledge of the Buddha himself, apparently, though the possibilities are there. I’ve written often about the genetic and cultural connections between the Greek and Indian philosophers, so I won’t do that now, but it’s interesting that not only do they share significant genetic ancestry, but are contemporaneous in the case of Heraclitus, who lived almost exactly the same time as the Buddha. Add to that the fact that he and the other Ionian philosophers were technically part of the Persian Empire, which spanned the entirety of the 2000mi/3000km between the Greek and Indian mainlands, so it’s tempting to speculate.

    Maybe they had Twitter pigeons? Ha! But the main difference is that the Buddha saw change as a cause of suffering, second only to craving, and Heraclitus did not. For him it was simply a fact of life, like fire, for him the basic ‘stuff’ of existence, as with the Vedic ‘acharyas’ and ‘pandits.’ ‘Basic stuff’ was the obsession of all pre-Socratic philosophers, many of them Ionian, the original word that meant ‘Greek’ in most Asian languages. His logos was also very dharma-like, and Buddhist dharma, in particular, is not fixed, but flexible enough to adapt to a variety of circumstances over time and over space.

    Whether the Buddha intended it that way or not is debatable, but if he considers change a source of suffering, then it is doubtful. That’s just the way it is, and thus proof of the reality, if not the suffering. The suffering is yours—or not. I remember crying when my family moved from the city to the countryside when I was eight years old. Now I seek out new countries all the time, 155 and counting. So, it is not a source of suffering for me, obviously. Thus, the Buddha may have made the mistake of over-generalizing. He was only human, after all. The transcendent Buddha came later. That’s Mahayana: Zen and all that jazz. Craving is still the main cause of suffering, that and attachment to self, as ego. That’s the other aspect of self to be avoided, however impermanent, always doomed to fail.

     
  • hardie karges 8:28 am on August 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , herd immunity, , , , , religion   

    Buddhism and the Herd Immunity against Hatred 

    The best religion gives herd immunity against fear and hatred. The best philosophy explains the reasons why. Of course, that is a phrase that gets tossed around a lot these days, herd immunity, that imprecise ratio between a disease’s capabilities and its limits. Because at some point, if enough people have achieved immunity, whether natural or artificial, then everyone is immune, simply because the virus can’t reproduce itself fast enough, given those odds of success—voila! Herd immunity. It’s easier said than done, though, and some diseases never meet that level of resistance, and so recur endlessly.

    And so it is with fear and hatred, or revenge and anger, and many other sins of the soul, or the mind, or consciousness, anything but flesh, which is relatively easy, by comparison. Because the flesh has medicines and vaccines, but the mind only has willpower and training, compassion and kindness, to defeat those invisible enemies. And if left unchecked, the hate and anger multiply ad infinitum, until we are all infected, and subsequent generations, too. But there is a cure, and it spreads exactly like the disease, and in inverse proportion.

    Because one simple act of kindness can spread from person to person until we are all not only immunized but blessed. And that is the goal, to be blessed, not cursed. For even though Buddhism acknowledges the ubiquity of suffering, that is not a curse, but simply a warning. Right thoughts, right actions, right intent, right livelihood, right awareness, right efforts, right speech, and right meditation are the Middle Path between that morass. The path may be winding but the destination is clear.

     
  • hardie karges 10:57 am on August 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Dhammapada, , , , religion,   

    Present Moment vs Past Lives, Buddhism vs Christianity… 

    “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Fake Buddha Quotes

    “Do not dwell on the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment,” is a saying that is often attributed to the Buddha, but in fact is not, and even qualifies as a ‘Fake Buddha Quote,’ though it is not so far off the mark, really. As explained in that FBQ website, the quote itself comes from a 1934 Japanese Buddhist booklet, but ultimately seems to derive from the Dhammapada verse 348 which literally says something like (depending on the translation from Pali):

    Let go of the past, let go of the future.
    Let go of the present. Having gone beyond becoming,
    with mind completely freed,
    you will never again come to birth and aging.

    So that’s ‘Same same but different,’ as we say in Thai pidgin English. The FBQ website’s articulation is well worth reading, but my main take on it is that the present is also rejected, which best makes the point of the Buddhist foundation in renunciation, not ‘present moment,’ which is probably best described as Eckhart Tolle’s philosophy, possibly via that same Japanese thread. Which is all fine and good, as far as it goes. The problem is that it doesn’t really go very far. And neither does the Buddhist renunciation principle, which is very Jain-like in essence.

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  • hardie karges 9:38 am on July 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ahimsa, , Bedouin, , , , religion, ,   

    Buddhism and the Principle of Ahimsa—Non-Violence… 

    If violence is the answer, then we’re asking the wrong questions. That should be the simplest lesson of all to learn in life, for any human with the capabilities of reason—but it’s not. This is a lesson that we must learn continuously, over and over and over, not to resort to violence when confronted with a confrontational attitude, and not to ‘take the bait’ when offered, because it will surely lead to no good end. ‘Taking the bait,’ of course, is a response to a form of provocation which pretends to be harmless, but which is designed specifically to evoke a response, often negative.

    So violence is more than an act. It’s an attitude, and it often has nothing to do with physical violence, but still it’s violence—mental violence? Spiritual? Psychological? Yes, all that and more. Because once it infects your mental state, then the harm is already done. That’s the trauma. Any physical distress is almost superfluous unless it’s lasting. But physical pain is only real when you are in it, and so is difficult to describe. Death is the ultimate act of violence, of course, and the highest sin in any and all religions—Buddhism included. If you can’t resolve your differences with someone without killing them, then we are indeed a sorry species—at best.

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

    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, , , , , , , , religion   

    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, , , , religion, , 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: , , , Indus Valley, Kama Sutra, , Malcolm Gladwell, , , , , religion, , 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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