Tagged: sangha Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • hardie karges 7:05 am on April 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , sangha   

    Buddhist Metta in the Age of Social Media… 

    Metta is simple and one of the cornerstones of Buddhism: friendship, simple friendship. Or call it ‘loving-kindness’ if that reconciles you with the Hebrew chesed of your Judeo-Christian tradition. Just note that it is not the passion that is usually associated with Christian ‘loving-kindness,’ not even the passionate embrace of a mother and her child. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it’s not necessary. What’s necessary is that the child not experience fear and anger and other defilements and afflictions.

    But we Westerners, particularly Americans, are raised on a diet of emotional cocktails, roller-coasters and built-in toasters, speeding up and then putting on brakes, heating up and then cooling our feet, such that life is nothing but one vast mood swing, which we must then ‘shrink’ by repeated visits to the therapist of our choice. To be a ‘bad-ass’ is a compliment in the US of A, and it shows in our interactions with the world. We fight our enemies to the death on battlefields, while never questioning the enemy within.

    This is one reason why it’s so difficult for Americans to be good Buddhists. Because we look for enlightenment in dialogue and debate, rather than the silence that brilliantly illustrates Emptiness, if not strictly define it. Because we look for our meditation in the words of some endless rap from some best-selling app from the online app-store of one of the world’s richest men, rather than that same silence which the Buddha himself used, as do thousands of monks to this day.

    And whether those monks win or lose the debates that some “spiritual bad-asses” (actual quote) find so rewarding and illuminating is not important. What’s important is quieting the mind (i.e. consciousness) by the necessary hours of silent and still sitting that make life itself the only reward necessary for a rewarding existence. All the cars and bars and Hollywood stars on assorted sh*t-stained sidewalks are but illustrations in a magazine that most people can’t sit still long enough to actually read.

    Compared to these challenges, metta is a literal piece of cake, to be shared with friends on any given day, and maybe even twice on Sunday, or Christmas, or Easter. The world is our sangha, our community, and strangers are as much a part of that as family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. In fact, that can be its greatest reward, communion with strangers as if they were lifelong friends. You can’t know that pleasure until you test those waters. The first rule of friendship is to be friendly, simple. Smile. Happy Easter. Happy Buddhist New Year.

     
  • hardie karges 10:52 am on November 7, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , sangha, ,   

    Buddhism and the Cessation of Suffering… 

    Sometimes the symptoms are the disease. Suffering is like that, and Buddhism knows that. Whether nirvana is the cure or not is unimportant to me, since nirvana’s association with death is not conducive to a casual discussion of it, like discussing suicide with someone who’s going through tough times. And the clarification that the Buddha’s ‘parinirvana’ was something different is not especially helpful, not when the modern Sanskrit translation apparently is indeed ‘death.’ What IS important is that all suffering be mitigated and ameliorated, however incrementally, whatever the time frame. To reduce suffering by half, and half again, ad infinitum, is indeed the ‘cessation of suffering’ that I envision when I read the Buddhist texts. A cure implies a magic pill. Buddhism is not like that.

    The modern curse of Buddhism is to re-translate everything, apparently to make it sound more Western, so more optimistic, and less pessimistic. But Buddhism is really neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but realistic. Death happens. Get used to it. What happens after that is fertile ground for speculation, but I’m not especially concerned about it. The afterlife, whatever it is, is probably not painful, whether Heaven or Hell or, more likely, none of the above. But the word dukkha, i.e. ‘suffering,’ is one of the words that gets re-translated the most. So now it’s ‘dissatisfaction,’ ‘inconvenience,’ or even ‘stress,’ notwithstanding the fact that modern stress is something most likely unknowable to ancient India. Maybe the word we want is ‘bummer,’ haha, but now I’m admitting to being a ‘boomer,’ aren’t I?

    Fortunately, Buddhism does not have to dovetail perfectly with modern Western psychology, especially of the popular sort, since that just might be wrong, at least from a Buddhist perspective. Most obvious would be the emphasis on ‘emptiness,’ which for a Western psychologist is the source of much distress. But for a Buddhist it’s sublime deliverance, an affirmation of all that is real and holy, and the source of the world itself, in addition to being a scientifically accurate extension of the anatta ‘non-self’ principle, one of Buddhism’s core beliefs. Buddhism is better than Western pop psychology, which too easily descends into faddish commercialism. This is where the traditional sangha community plays an important role. Because without the monkhood Buddhism is just another New Age fad in America. That’s the problem with secular Buddhism. But there is a Middle Way between all the options and variations, and the synthesis is sublime.

     
  • hardie karges 9:56 am on October 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , sangha   

    Buddhism is not a Religion of the Book, and that’s good… 

    Buddhism is not a New Age conspiracy theory. It is a discipline. But this is one of the problems of Buddhism in America in the 21st century: it is just one of several dozens of items on the New Age menu available to mix-and-match according to whim, or taste. Just add salt and pepper. So, it is not unusual to hear someone say that they are a Buddhist Taoist Rosicrucian, or something like that.

    And there’s nothing wrong with that, not really, as long as it’s well-thought and heartfelt, but it does tend to ignore the centuries of development in the Buddhist world, all of which went into the definition of what we now call Buddhism, which is extremely broad and diverse. So, Buddhism is already bulging at the seams with centuries of dialectic, with or without any extra added input from the latest fad religion to hit the New Age newsstands.

    Because that’s what Buddhism has always done, and the Buddha allowed that. But what is missing now is the discipline, and the dedication, not just to research, and reading, but to the world sangha community, and the traditions that have given this religion and philosophy 2500 years of continuous existence in a world we barely know yet, so something like 25% of its settled history, and almost all of its recorded history.

    That’s why I like to have a connection to a temple, or temples, and monks, not just a Facebook page or a discussion group. Because even if the Buddha and his buddies were doing similar activities, discussing and debating, they were also meditating in caves, often and devotedly. If you’ve never been to a week-long silent retreat, then you don’t know much about Buddhism IMHO. I heartily recommend it. And yes, there are still rishis in this world who spend years in caves unwashed and sparsely fed. Guess what? They don’t smell bad, either. You can’t get Buddhism just from a book…

     
  • hardie karges 5:26 pm on November 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bolsonaro, Congress, , , Duterte, , fascist, , , , Pattani, , , , , , sangha, Siam, , , Xi Jinping   

    Buddhist Holy War? Consider the possibilities… 

    img_1695 No, I’m not talking about fighting the mean nasty ugly Muslims that fundamentalist Buddhists are supposed to hate because they supposedly ‘destroyed Buddhism in India’ with their medieval invasion, from which Buddhism never quite recovered. But I notice that ‘Hinduism’ recovered, though, hint hint, exposing this as false narrative. It seems that India is not big enough for both, especially when Hinduism is quite happy to include Buddhism under its larger umbrella, making and marketing itself as something of a national religion, if and when it is one, at all…

    And no, I’m not talking about the situation in southern Thailand, in which ethnic Malay nationalists in three southern provinces, who just so happen to be Muslim, have fought for years to win back the independence that was taken from them in 1785 with Siam’s annexation of Pattani. Ironically this was only made official in Siam’s treaty with the UK in 1909, in which as much or more territory was simply transferred to UK ownership for the promise that they would recognize Siam’s sovereignty over the rest (and no more, demands, pretty please!)… (More …)

     
    • RemedialEthics 2:16 am on November 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      As always, your posts appear when I am desperate for evidence that there is a larger world of perspective beyond the narrow, paranoid, and increasingly violent belief system that has a firm grip on America. I stumbled into your blog while Googling the mileage from my home in the AZ desert to the nearest border town of Sasabe. I don’t remember if I ever found the answer to my mileage query, I just decided it’s about 30 miles (maybe) and that is fine because I also don’t recall why I needed to know in the first place. That is exactly what makes the internet great. It is not about being able to find the answers you need in 0.03 seconds, it is about finding the answers you didn’t know you needed. Thank you for caring about the well-being of your countrymen even though you are not in country. I realize how easy it would be to immerse yourself in the arguably more enlightened culture where you are and look away from the ugly reality that has swallowed up your homeland, but your blogs offer a clean, refreshing perspective shift that is just enough to keep the nihilism at bay for a little bit longer. Think of it as charity to those of us who are stuck here and starving for insight from outside the battle zone. Please don’t wash your hands of us just yet.

      • hardie karges 2:27 am on November 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Wow! Thanks! That just might be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me (and I know where Sasabe is, too, nice drive, even crossed the border there once), thanks again…

    • Dave Kingsbury 5:22 pm on November 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, agree with RemedialEthics, your wider world perspective shines a bright light on parochial problems. We have a few of our own this side of the Pond but I came up with this the day after your Midterms and thought it might add a few more light protons … https://davekingsbury.wordpress.com/2018/11/07/halfway-there-a-story-in-100-words/

  • hardie karges 6:56 am on January 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , monk, , , sangha,   

    Buddhism ME 6909: Renunciation is a transitive verb–sometimes… 

    img_0953There’s nothing cuter in Thailand than a picture of a young child bowing in obeisance, before a statue of the Buddha, grahping and saddhuing with the best of them, prostrate to unknown gods, long before his little prostate gland would even know the difference, that which supplies the raw materials for reproduction, but to a young infertile mind that yet has no clue to such things…

    Now I firmly encourage respect and reverence to monks and priests and the qualities they represent, but joining the monkhood at an early age, or even growing up at the temple, and, in effect, never knowing any other life, is another thing. I mean: is that really so impressive—and wise? Doesn’t renunciation really only have its true meaning when something is actually renounced? Now, when a millionaire gives up his millions to join the sangha—that’s impressive… (More …)

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 5:06 pm on January 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Hi. Hardie, long time no speak! Been taking a little winter sabbatical from the blogosphere – viewing it, anyhow – to catch up on some offline reading. This strikes your customary balance, with all sides examined and a careful conclusion reached. I think your considered stance is sensible and persuasive in the modern world. As Rimbaud said, it is necessary to be absolutely modern …

    • hardie karges 5:18 pm on January 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Hey, Dave, good to chat, been wrapped up in my own college/monastery duties for months myself, now freer a bit to wander. I just wish DT would leave the scene, so that I can write about happy things again, ha! Thanx for comments, I persevere…

  • hardie karges 7:08 am on December 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , dipa, double entendre, , , , , , nikaya, , , sangha,   

    Buddhism 6399, Pali 201: Double Entendres, Double Intentions? Or not… 

    img_2116Evam vadi: “Therefore, O Ananda, be ye lamps unto yourselves. Rely on yourselves, and do not rely on external help. Hold fast to the truth as a lamp. Seek salvation alone in the truth. Look not for assistance to any one besides yourselves.”

    So said the Buddha on his death bed, in his final instructions to the sangha, the Buddhist community, his followers. There’s only one problem, or question, or issue, if you prefer: the Pali word dipa can mean ‘lamp’ or (drum roll here, please)–‘island’. In fact ‘island’ is probably the more frequent translation, given the prominence in Buddhism of that most famous of dipas—Sri Lanka…

    (It does NOT mean ‘light’, not really, as often translated in the statement above, ‘light’ in the sense of that abstract quasi-dimensional entity which has a speed of 186,000mi/300,000km per second and serves as the upper limit of our human-ness, and therefore somewhat defining our status as physical, i.e. not totally spiritual, beings, in a material world, however sentient and well-intentioned)… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 5:47 am on October 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: breath, , , itch, , , sangha, ,   

    Buddhism and the Meditation Itchy-Scratchies: Peace of Mind, Peace of body… 

    img_2116You know the routine: position cushion on the floor, position butt on the cushion, position body on the butt spine straight crack shoulders eyes closed breath focus nose focus navel focus nothing nothing breathing breathing breath breath in out in out breathe breathe hmmmm… hmmmm… breath… hmmmm… hmmmm… Donald Trump….. hmmmm… moron… hmmm… breath… hmmm… Mormon… hmmm… Buddho… hmmm… ice cream… yummm… hmmm… Buddho… hmmm… salsa… hmmmm… afrocubism… hmmmm… Pablo Picasso… hmmmm…  Matisse… hmmm… mind wandering… hmmm… wandering… hmmm…  Buddho… hmmm… breath… hmmm…

    When I first started meditating in northern Thailand my mother-in-law would ask me, “Have you calmed your mind yet?”

    Calm my mind? I’m still trying to calm my body…” (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 6:54 am on October 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Chogyam Trungpa, , , , , , , , , , sangha, , , ,   

    Buddhism 301: Do I save myself, or do I save the world? Decisions decisions… 

    img_1893I’m paraphrasing, of course, but this is the question that has plagued—no, let’s say intrigued’—the sangha (Buddhist community) for two and a half millennia, more or less, if not in so many words, then in so many actions, cutting to the chase, and allowing for interpolations and extrapolations, i.e. whether to think big, farming ideas and allowing for fierce and free debate, or to think small, on the achievement of individual ‘liberation’ and the purging of ‘defilements’ from the composite makeshift personalities that we call ‘I’…

    And if that’s an oversimplification, then it’s for a worthy cause, ’cause sharper focus is what’s needed for Buddhism to escape the same fate in the West that it met in India a millennium ago, going down in defeat largely because of its inability to distinguish itself from a resurgent ultra-nationalistic Hinduism and an insurgent Islam, such that Buddhism simply got lost in the shuffle of competing meditative traditions and could no longer count on its fall-back position as the non-Hindu alternative… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:19 am on September 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , sangha, ,   

    First Noble Truth of Buddhism: It’s a Heartache… 

    IMG_2290

    …and that’s about as accurate as any translation of the Pali word dukkha as any other, certainly better than the ‘stress’ or ‘discomfort’ or whatever currently making the rounds in Buddhist blurbs online and elsewhere, anything but ‘suffering’, the traditional and still most accurate definition. We’re talking about a metaphysical level of suffering here, after all, or at least existential, the kind that envelops you in its inimitable embrace, and lets you know exactly where you stand, or fall, which is usually somewhere nearby and knowable, so treatable…

    The newer ‘stress’-full definition of dukkha suggests a modern post-capitalist phase that the Buddha himself could hardly have imagined back in the classic Upanishadic era of pre-colonial India, actually post-colonial if you count Aryans as intruders, and not the high-class homeboy Brahmins that they usually like to see themselves as. They brought as many chariots, horses, cows and racism as they ever brought religion, more like high plains cowboys than the meditative masters that we now see them as (though they did have good drugs—I hear)… (More …)

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel