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  • hardie karges 12:03 pm on August 7, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , rishi, , Vedas   

    Buddhism in a Hindu World: no Time for Selves and Souls… 

    You should be able to find a comfortable balance between low self-esteem on the one hand, and overt selfish egotism, on the other, in the Buddhist doctrine of anatta, non-self or no-self, same thing. But this is one of the more controversial and misunderstood of the Buddha’s teachings, and subject to much abuse by those who want to go too far in the opposite direction from egotism, by claiming that we are all ‘nobody,’ and should somehow be proud of that. And that’s fine, if that’s what you want, but that’s not what the Buddha said.

    Because in one very real sense, the Buddha’s Middle path is not just the original path between luxury and lack, or even the esoteric existence and non-existence of the later Mahayanists. It is also very much a Middle Path between the competing philosophies of Vedic Brahmanism and the Jainism of his day. Those two, in effect, defined a very real dichotomy between the lush and lavish celebratory rituals of the upper Brahmin class and the self-denial of the renunciant rishis who once made India famous as a religious center, and to some extent still do.

    So, the self vs. no-self controversy for Buddhists was never supposed to be a total refutation of all things selfie, such that we are individually nothing at all and should aspire to nothing more than the average leaf blowing in the wind. The Buddhist doctrine of anatta only means that there is no permanent eternal soul to aspire to union with the cosmic Brahmana principle, as Brahmanic Hinduism invokes, and so nothing to worry about on that count. Peace in this life in this world is to be found by knowing the truths of suffering, craving, and impermanence, and then acting accordingly. Now we can get on with our lives.

     
  • hardie karges 8:40 am on March 6, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , rishi, Zeno;s Paradox   

    Buddhism in the Bardo: War is Hell 

    If you win an argument, then you haven’t really won much. If you win a battle, you’ve won even less. Nobody wins unless we all win. And this is especially true in times of war, when everything you love is on the table (“don’t swallow the cap”) and everything you love is out to sea (The National), and you’re lucky to even find a moment for a sniff between the tears, in which to catch your breath and convince yourself that life is worth living, despite any evidence to that effect.

    But instinct tells you to keep on keeping on, since to end it all is to end the process of deliberation, also, which is an unforgiveable sin, to end a narrative without closure, to end a story without a suitable reason for ending, which is tantamount to treason, and in violation of the ‘fourth-quarter clause’ which states that every game is winnable if given enough time and given enough grace, and given enough love scattered all over the place, such that any uncertain outcome at least carries with it the possibility of personal redemption, if not outright victory in battle.

    Or you could become a renunciant, in the purest sense, a rishi, or maybe a Jain, if you really need a name, in which none of these concerns should really concern us. After all, what could Putin do if Ukrainians simply refused to cooperate, letting him take whatever he wants, but ultimately refusing to cooperate in the slightest? If you’ve already renounced all family and possessions, then what leverage does he have over you? In this scenario, the ‘I’ at the center of your identity is nothing really, simply a pragmatic and conventional set of characteristics that makes it simpler to order dinner, without really proving much in the process.

    Or you could become a Buddhist, splitting the difference, until there is no difference left to split, like Zeno’s paradoxes, going halfway until you never really get anywhere, or at least not to any final destination. Because where is there to really go, now, anyway? So, you plant seeds in anticipation of a harvest, knowing full well and good that sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way, but so what? Sometimes thy cup runneth over, so hopefully it all balances out, if you know how to deal with that.

    Because the whole rap about ‘living in the present’ is so overblown as to remove much of its shine and luster, which is substantial. And it’s often credited to Buddhism, but I don’t remember the Buddha ever saying anything like that, though the lifestyle might imply it. But Jesus did, that rap about the birds not building barns, yet God still provides for them, EXCEPT that birds DO build barns, though we usually call them ‘nests.’ But that doesn’t mean that they have to be full.

    Our mantra in the West is to ‘live life to the fullest,’ and that is where we often go wrong. Because it neither has to be full nor empty. It merely has to be rewarding in its simplicity. But that is an act of consciousness. The recent discovery that most hippos die as virgins confirms the brute force with which the Alpha male often rules his little kingdom, and hams the harem, while the rest of us get sloppy seconds and a pocketful of tissues. But homo sapiens is defined by consciousness, so that won’t work. Now, somebody go tell Putin, before he kills us all. All he needs is Enlightenment…

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

    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 6:16 am on March 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , epiphany, homeless, metropolis, rishi   

    Buddhist Epiphany: the Homeless Will Inherit the Earth… 

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    The golden age of cities may be over and done, gone to the dogs, hard to believe that as recently as the 1980’s American teenagers could still get excited cruising down Hollywood Boulevards and Sunset Strips in gas-guzzling sedans and VW vans, gazing longingly upward at IHOP’s and Waffle Houses, Dunkin’ Donuts and KFC…

    …pale imitations of the City of Lights, Paris at the turn of the previous century, outshining dingy London stuck with gas lamps and starchy pies, dry humor and sticky dreams, pea soup and foggy skies, and so it is with Los Angeles and New York, different as black and white, day and night, New York city of unrepentant vampires and LA city of love-lost angels… (More …)

     
    • Alexia Adder 11:39 pm on January 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      America’s capitalist culture is the descendant of feudalism. The Founding Fathers never meant for everyone to be free. Only certain people and especially not black people. Our culture being built on slavery and racism is problematic. All of these started as classism, evolved into sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination.

      Since success in America is based on how much money and stuff you have, homeless people are often dehumanized as lowest of the low. It’s a caste system in another form. (Something that Buddha would be against.)

      • hardie karges 7:44 am on January 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, I have to crack a smile when a Buddhist monk refers to himself as homeless. Thanks!

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