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  • hardie karges 7:45 am on January 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    Buddhism 101: Do the Right Thing, Quietly… 

    To do the right thing isn’t always easy. Do it anyway: samma-ditthi, samma-sankappa, samma-vaca, samma-kammanta, samma-ajiva, samma-vayama, samma-sati, samma-samadhi, often translated as Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration, though I’m not sure what the difference is between Right Understanding and Right Thought. But I do know that Right View is often substituted for one or the other of them, I assume the first, since the modern Nepali translation of ‘view’ is drsya, and probably better for the very reason of its distinction from ‘thought.’

    And then there are those who would object to the translation of ‘samma’ as ‘right,’ though for what reason I can’t remember now, and probably misguided, if we remember that ‘right’ in this case is in the context of ‘appropriate,’ which would agree nicely with that word’s derivation in modern standard Thai, which has probably half of its words derived from Pali and/or Sanskrit.

    Re-translation is the curse of modern-day Buddhism, especially American-based Buddhism, which must reconcile ancient Indian thought derived from deep contemplation with modern critical analysis largely derived from empirical testing on one hand, and the faddish trends of fashion on the other, and the need for brief sound bites with universal happy endings, perfect for mass consumption.

    And that’s fine, since Buddhism is an ongoing dialog, or dialectic, in constant search of a higher truth, those first Four Noble ones and that ensuing Eightfold Path but the starting point for further developments and the groundwork for the Precepts, that were once typically translated as Commandments for simplicity of reason, faith and understanding. All religions seem to need tenets, even when they are almost identical, since most people need constant reminding of even the simplest things in life.

    For example: Samma Vaca, Right Speech, is not just for your friends, but your enemies, too, and strangers unnamed and uncounted. Obvious, right? But until someone articulates that most important point, then it might very well go unnoticed by most typical text-skimmers. Less obvious is that all this verbiage is excessive, and should be unnecessary, except for our habits of point and counterpoint, parry and thrust. Buddhism is a religion and philosophy of silence, at the core of its being and existence. Silence is normal. All noise should be treated as an alien force, approached with caution and handled with great care.

     
  • hardie karges 6:59 am on December 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    The Ways and (Skillful) Means of Buddhism… 

    ‘Skillful means’ is not about telling people what they want to hear. It’s telling them what they need to hear, in a way that’s acceptable to them. And if this sounds obvious, it can be more complicated than it seems. It can even contradict one of the main precepts in the Eightfold Path, in fact, if it fails to acknowledge the importance of Right Speech. One of the Buddha’s later commentators, in fact, even bragged about how the Buddha could preach about cosmic Self to the Brahmanists, while preaching non-self to the already-committed Buddhists. Fast-forward to the future and a prominent senior Buddhist monk today claims that Buddha, in fact, was never committed to a doctrine of non-self, but was undecided about it (so that we can now accept rebirth with no issue of what it is that gets reborn). But this is not ‘skillful means.’ And this is not Right Speech.

    As the New Testament of the Christian Bible is often paraphrased: “Let your yes be yes; and let your no be no.” Bingo. That Buddhism is an open doctrine is fine, and to be commended. That it sometimes gets twisted almost beyond recognition is not always so good. But that’s exactly what happened when Mahayana went in two almost opposite directions from its shunyata (emptiness) starting point, one leading to the Vajrayana of Tibet, the other leading to the Zen of Japan. And for a long time, that’s where Buddhism stood, and stalled, and those are the two extremes that made the biggest impact in the New World—until now. Because now there is a new dialectic to that interplay of magic and trance, and it should be no surprise that the only realistic synthesis would be a return to the primal roots of early Buddhism. So, Theravada now finds its best messaging in its simplest Forest Temples, and the debates in the background resume.

    Only this time it is not the background of Brahmanism and Jainism, but dozens of so-called ‘New Age’ ideas and the general air of conspiracy. But for me Secular Buddhism is the rightful heir to the debate with religiosity, something which original Buddhism had not the luxury, because Science as we know it did not exist. But Reason and rationality did, embedded in the nature of cause and effect, the words for which define ‘reason’ in more than one Asian language. And that’s how Buddhism won the original debate, for me, at least, because it was the rational option. And it still can be, if it can find its peace with Science, because that is the air we breathe in this day and age, logic and testing. We only need a belief system to make sense of it all. If not, then ‘belief’ becomes a bad word, synonymous with ‘faith,’ and we are left to our own devices to find succor and solace. I find no contradiction between my Buddhism and the best science we know. If forced to choose, then I will refuse, and let the chips fall where they may.

     
  • hardie karges 2:00 pm on February 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
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    The Two Major Schools of Buddhism: Past Life or Present Moment… 

    You can’t be a ‘present moment’ Buddhist and a ‘past life’ Buddhist at the same time, since the two concepts are contradictory. And this is probably more important than any modern distinction between Theravada and Mahayana, Tibetan or Zen, simply whether you believe in past lives or not, karma and rebirth supposedly the causes and effects of that process.

    So the present moment is mostly a convenient escape, with ET extending the landing chute, because no present moment really exists, any more than a past life, but the latter is more onerous than the former, which can vanish with the flick of a whisker, while the past lives will never go away, as long as it is believed in.

    Because past lives are all about predestination, and the submission to a supposedly higher will, when one is more than enough. And if this all likely began with the best of intentions, it soon became a stage prop to the caste system, i.e. racism, the idea that some are born with latent superiorities, while others are born with obvious deficiencies.

    Thus your station in life is pre-determined by the events of a previous life, and there is little you can do to change it. None of that has any basis in science, of course, the racism nor the past lives. But still we have to deal with it, day by day, the racism of Aryan superiority not only in India, but in Europe and Amerika and in the latter-day colonies Down Under.

    Predestination is the philosophical side to the same phenomena of past lives, the idea that ‘it is all written,’ notwithstanding the fact that nothing at all was written until a few thousand years ago, still the image is powerful, script on paper, replicating itself into countless lifetimes and universal ages.

    Calvin the Presbyter made great gains with a similar theory in the Western world, details left to the deacons of stupas and steeples, the main takeaway that we are not in control, PERIOD. And that might not be such a bad thing, if the ulterior motives of religion are to be taken at face value.

    After all, aren’t all religions most similar in their insistence that we subject ourselves to a higher will? For all Christianity’s eternity and infinity, the need to obey God is paramount, the only question now or later, prodigal or prescient. And so it is with Islamic submission and Hindu embrace, we Buddhists left to fill in blanks that the others have all left unfilled.

    But the ‘present moment’ is something else entirely, and at its best in countering the pernicious superstitions of karma, especially the kind that jumps generations to bounce back and bite you when you least expect it, in the next life. Belief in the present moment provides a convenient counterpart to challenge all that. I would go not nearly so far as ET in extolling its virtues, since its virtues to me are simply those of meditation, whether with single focus or field focus, the result is the same.

    To shut off the internal dialogue, even for a moment, is to return to proto-consciousness, paleo-consciousness, before language took over and came to own it. Now languages conquer peoples and acquire new lands, our hapless selves but tools of the medium, neither rare nor well done. Samma vaca is right speech. Right speech is good speech. Silence is preferable to bad speech. Words matter…

     
    • Five 7:46 am on February 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      What tradition of Buddhism were you trained in, Hardie? And is this “present moment Buddhism” something that people teach?

      You say “You can’t be a ‘present moment’ Buddhist and a ‘past life’ Buddhist at the same time” – but you can, and that is the whole point. Because the present moment never had a beginning (you recall one?) and has no end – it cannot have because it has no duration – that tells us that the “present moment”, i.e. conscious awareness, does not end at death. That’s all you need to know, you don’t need to remember past lives, or believe anything other than your experience (which is only ever of the ‘present moment’, as above, that IS your experience).

    • hardie karges 7:54 am on February 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply

      I have an MA in Buddhist Studies, so I am ‘trained’ in all of them. No, ‘present moment’ Buddhism is not taught, to my knowledge, unless you want to credit Eckhart Tolle with it. I use poetic license to conduct my thought experiments, in hopes of reaching a higher truth, or at least a different one. Interesting that you begin by disagreeing with me, and end by more-or-less agreeing with me. You are obviously a present moment Buddhist, if you are a Buddhist at all, good choice (even if you don’t believe in death, which is a bit of a dicey proposition)…

  • hardie karges 9:20 am on October 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
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    Buddhist quantum linguistics… 

    Some things that people do with language are unspeakable: hatred, anger, cruelty, and possession. Words are like discrete quanta, looking for entanglement. Remember ‘samma vaca,’ right speech…

     
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