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  • hardie karges 6:42 am on April 3, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ignorance, , , , , , Science   

    Buddhism of the Present Moment: Averaging Past and Future, Science and Superstition… 

    The one who can control himself, can control the world—his world…

    Sometimes the only way to remove hatred and ignorance from our lives is to remove the haters and ignorant people from our lives. And fortunately, that’s still possible, as our increasingly crowded world still has some empty places yet to be traversed and social ambitions yet to be fulfilled. But what happens when there is no place to hide, when social mobility comes to a standstill? Where do we go then to find peace and quiet, to find love, knowledge, and acceptance, where before there was only ignorance and hate?

    The obvious place to go is inside of course, deep inside, within our own minds and consciousness, both terms that I use with some trepidation, science-lover that I am, when what I really mean is memory. Because other than the constant (live) stream of sense perceptions that occur in real time, then all we really have is memory, which is anathema to the present-moment Buddhist or Eckhart Tolle disciple, but which is nonetheless a major part of our conscious waking moments.

    Besides those two there are only dreams, which occur in present time but in an undefined space, and conscious thinking, which some ‘non-dualists’ and latter-day Buddhists (‘thoughts without thinkers’) insist is not really real, but which nevertheless occupy reams and tomes of studied critiques and analyzed comparisons for the only purpose of knowledge itself, any benefits to be derived in subsequent interactions with the same world of biology, chemistry, and physics, or language, history, and psychology, from which it ultimately came in the process of experiment.

    And none of that can reasonably be denied, though it could certainly be claimed that we have spiritual lives that are bigger and better than all that. And I would tend to agree. So, the challenge is to make sense of it all, science and meditation, or action and renunciation, so that we can combine lives of action with our spiritual lives, which should also include science, and not just deep introspection, which was all that Buddha—and Plato—had. The answer is implicit, of course, in the Middle Path.

    Because that concept of the Middle Path works not only between Buddha’s luxury and lack, or the Mahayanist dichotomy of existence and non-existence, but still works for a modern secular dichotomy between introspection and science. And that is the supreme beauty of Buddhism, of course, that it is an ongoing dialectic, in which wrong choices are corrected. The Buddha himself wasn’t perfect, and even accepted a lesser status for women, which often figures prominently in misguided Buddhist theses for past lives and reincarnation, hint hint. But we can correct the mistakes of the past with the revelations of the present. And so we must.

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  • hardie karges 7:45 am on February 13, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Science,   

    Buddhism: A Noble Truth or Two (and a few lesser ones)… 

    The one who can control himself, can control the world—his world…

    Buddha in his Four Noble Truths didn’t say that craving is THE (one and only) cause of dukkha, i.e. suffering. Pali and Sanskrit have no definite articles. But it is certainly one of them, and by the fact that the Buddha mentioned no others right then and there, it certainly seems logical to assume that it is perhaps the greatest of them. He did mention others elsewhere, though, and impermanence comes quickly to mind as one of those that he specifically wrote about in that context.

    Perhaps impermanence was Buddha’s first encounter with dukkha? I know that it was mine, at the ripe old age of eight years old, in Jackson, MS, USA, as my parents prepared to migrate from the Big City out to the nearby countryside, and all that I knew and loved would change overnight, perhaps more than can be easily imagined here and now almost sixty years later. Because not only was that my first encounter with suffering of the existential sort, but it was also my first encounter with culture shock. I cried for days, and not only survived but thrived.

    I even started to like that culture shock around the time I visited my twelfth or thirteenth country a few years later. Similarly, the Buddha did not say anything to the effect that ‘all life is suffering.’ But as he listed the various manifestations of suffering, e.g., birth, old age, disease, and death, then that might certainly be implied. That’s what he was obsessed with, most likely, because that’s what he was shielded from for most of his life—until he went outside. And so we must all go outside to find what is inside each of us.

    And what we find inside is another world, a different world, almost another dimension, as different as Virtual Reality from our modern materialistic world of Science. And it is a world of feeling and perception, the only world that a sentient being can truly know. Everything else is only a likely story, and a likeable story at that. You shouldn’t have to choose between Buddhism and Science. You don’t. And sometimes short-term suffering brings the greatest long-term benefits. Don’t panic. Be patient. Be kind and adapt to changing circumstances. Impermanence shouldn’t be a cause of suffering.

     
  • hardie karges 6:59 am on December 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , Science, ,   

    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 8:20 am on January 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Abrahamic, , , , , Science,   

    Buddhism and the Fear Factor… 

    The Buddhist Eightfold Path does not include fear. There is no such thing as Right Fear. Still that is the default position for much, if not most religion, as enshrined in the phrase ‘God-fearing,’ as it has resonated through American culture, at least, if not all Western culture and its multitude of lingos and dialectics.

    And in that way, it satisfies the civilizing function with which religion has been entrusted by so many and for so long, that mono-myth that serves as a belief system for the security of society. In that way it can even unite diverse and various societies under a common banner of inclusion, so that the internecine struggles that divide us may cease once we realize that we have common purpose, which in this case includes fear.

    The problem, of course, is that common purpose usually only goes part of the way toward inclusion before it bumps up against another belief system doing the same thing but from another source, and often heading in another direction. This is best evidenced in the various manifestations of Abrahamic religions, the three major branches of which have been at each other’s throats almost since the first day, albeit with shifting alliances between them (most people forget that Jews were once solemnly protected against the wrath of Christianity within the citadels of Islam, pre-1948).

    To their credit, the corresponding Vedic-descended religions have never shown such animosity, and often are included under the broad umbrella of Hinduism. But fear is still often a factor, especially to the extent that karma is invoked for that purpose, which is often the case. In that situation, a person is supposedly scared into doing good in this life out of fear of what the next life might bring. And it seems that in fact, that is why the Buddha accepted it, since there was really no proof either one way or the other, so why not err on the side of good results? Makes sense.

    But this is a different time and a different place. What once made good sense against the black background of ignorance, now makes little sense in the light of science. Now we must act in the certainty of our proofs and with the benefit of our education and knowledge. Thus fear is not a suitable motivation, unless accompanied by proofs, most of which are lacking, in the case of religion. There is no proof of God the Father. There is no proof of Heaven or Hell. There is no proof of reincarnation, and there is no proof of past lives (memories are, uh, flexible).

    So religion is better left to ethics and morality and providing inspirations for happiness. Leave Science to the scientists. When they try to solve wars by Science, then call them on their BS. That is the job of priests and philosophers (and the occasional politician). Conciliation is always preferable to confrontation. And peace is almost always better than war. They are the ones to tell you why and how. That is the job of religion and philosophy, not ruling by fear. Once you are vaccinated by Buddhism, then it is up to herd immunity to take over…

     
  • hardie karges 10:12 am on December 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhanauts, , Deus Pater, Dyaus Pitr, , Science   

    Buddhism and Science: the Middle Path of Enlightenment… 

    The Middle Path is not so hard, but not so easy, either. That’s why it’s called the Middle Path. And if that sounds like a cop-out, an avoidance of decision, well I assure you that it can be much more than that and a metaphysical position in its own right, however sublime and shifting, but not shifty.

    If that sounds a lot like agnosticism, then there’s a reason for that. The best Buddhism is agnostic, IMHO, if not agnosticism itself. The problem of much, if not most religion, is simply that in its desire for certainty, it attaches itself to a position that may become untenable at some point in the future (notice how we say ‘the future’ as if only one were possible).

    But Buddhism does that, too, with varying results, and to the point that much of the Buddha’s original inspiration almost gets lost in the process. That’s because the holy trinity of rebirth, karma, and past lives is such a powerful paradigm, however unsatisfying it may be to a modern science-loving child of the Enlightenment.

    Notice how the term ‘enlightenment’ is used in both Science and Buddhism? But I didn’t say science-believing, now, did I? And that’s the difference, in answer to those who claim that believing in science is just as mistaken as a belief in anything else, because just look at how often science is later found faulty, as a new theory and hypothesis takes precedence.

    Exactly, that is the point. The best science is agnostic, also, and that is not just my opinion; that is definition. Science is a method, not a belief system, and Buddhism can function that way, also. Thus there is something for everybody in Buddhism, gods, hungry ghosts, and multiple levels of Hell for those who need it to stay straight in this life, rebirth in a lesser status for those who need the double dose.

    Still the best face of Buddhism is the recognition that there is suffering in this life and this world, and there is a way to mitigate it. If there is a better life in a better world, then bring it. After all, why would you want eternal life in a substandard existence, except out of fear of the unknown, as the monotheists’ Dyaus Pitr-God the Father-Deus Pater promises? I wouldn’t.

    But that doesn’t mean that I feel resigned to a miserable set of rebirths, either, regardless of my behavior in this one life and one world that I know. I don’t. That’s just another form of fear. The challenge of this life in this world is to explore the unknown and accommodate ourselves to it, without rank nor rancor.

    The innovation that Buddhism makes, long before modern Western psychology, is the recognition of inner space. Astronauts explore Outer Space. Buddhanauts must explore Inner Space, the deep sea, thalay, dalai, a hidden world so close that you can almost touch it. And in there is where many of the secrets to our existence lie…

     
  • hardie karges 10:04 am on May 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Science   

    Love, Buddhism, dialectic, and the dictates of Science… 

    The message to a noisy world is simple: silence. The message to a hateful world is also simple: love. So the remedy for any extreme situation would seem to be its opposite, at least in the short term. This can be a zig-zag situation, though, of course, flip-flopping back and forth between extremes with no middle ground. Certainly some Westerners with a racial background of extreme violence take the love love love remedy too far to the other extreme. This is the genius of Buddhism, that it constantly seeks that middle ground ‘sweet spot’ of mutual accommodation, which should ideally be the outcome of any ongoing dialectic, and constantly self-correcting. But while some scholars and priests might claim this as a higher truth, I’d say that it is simply a superior method, and therefore akin to science. There are laws that require separation of church and state, not church and science…

     
    • quantumpreceptor 12:24 pm on May 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting Hardy. I think science really should have a branch devoted to the study of meditation and or eastern teachings. It’s a proactive solution to an old problem.

      QP

      • hardie karges 2:39 pm on May 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        And vice-versa, also, IMO, as that gap is now too wide for mere yawning; it needs to be bridged…

        • quantumpreceptor 2:42 pm on May 12, 2019 Permalink

          It would be a great way to control the conversation in a logical and nondogmatic way. Leaving the snake oil salesman out to lunch and the seekers of wisdom a new path to credibility.

        • hardie karges 3:01 pm on May 12, 2019 Permalink

          exactly

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

    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 4:20 am on November 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Confucius, Golden Rule, Greek, , Science, Silver rule   

    Buddhism 101: Do not do unto others… 

    img_1773If you grew up in the USA, then I’m sure at some point you came across the Confucian ‘inversion’ of the Golden Rule in which we are enjoined to: ‘NOT do unto others as you would NOT want them to do to you’, or something like that, chuckle chuckle, snicker snicker, at those crazy Asians who just can’t get it right, gotta’ twist everything around, maybe one day they’ll get it straight…

    Well, fast-forward a few decades and those crazy rich Asians just may have had it right all along. I mean, it may seem like a minor detail, but on closer inspection it just may speak volumes and provide a valuable clue to species survival, our species. But first things first: the Confucian version is not the inversion, if anything just the opposite, as both versions are scattered throughout the ethical traditions of the world, and the negative prohibitive version just may have come first, though that is hard to say, but likely the more numerous… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 6:20 am on September 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , reductios, , , Science,   

    America, Buddhism, Logic and Einstein’s Equivalence Principle… 

    img_0953You know the American dream, the whole world does: two-story house and a two-car garage, two kids in the breakfast nook and the neighbor’s kids coming over later, God’s little acre in a sanctified suburb, full ownership and bulging bank accounts, stay-at-home mom and a rising-star dad, with a bachelor’s degree in business and a lotta’ backyard gossip, Saturday at the zoo and Sunday barbecue, PTA meetings and postman’s daily greetings, fried chicken and crispy French fries, milk shakes and apple pies…

    Also known as the Australian dream or Kiwi if you prefer, but only a quarter-acre there and the fries just might be pies, so be careful what you eat, otherwise just the same, with a down-under accent, big goofy grins on the chinny-chin-chins, a weekend in the outback, a maid in the kitchen, a promise of deliverance, and the assurance of no limits: neither sky nor sand nor seacoast nor sex, all-you-can-eat in a never-ending buffet of consumer goods, entertainment, sensations, but mostly money… (More …)

     
    • quantumpreceptor 12:33 am on October 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Hardie with avoidance you certainly have the Theravadan view well encapsulated. Why else should one take 300 vows and live separately from many others but to avoid all that is potentially disturbing. In Mahayana and Vajrayana these so called disturbing emotions are actually the fuel for the fire that drives practice further and faster. There are several ways to see this is there not?

      QP

      • hardie karges 1:18 am on October 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Hi again QP: Absolutely. Yes, I love the Thai Forest Tradition, but see it best as the first step along the path, gotta’ re-enter the world at some point in order to save it, which is the highest goal IMHO. Mahayana is a bit fractured right now, though, so can’t help but think that there must be a new paradigm evolving, to account for all the world changes of the last 1000 years, which Buddhism mostly hasn’t answered yet. I don’t know that Secular Buddhism is the answer, but I definitely think it’s part of the discussion. Most religions abhor uncertainty, but I think the capacity for a true dialectic is one of Buddhism’s strengths, fingers crossed. Thanks for your comments…

  • hardie karges 7:22 am on December 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Science,   

    Buddhism in the End Times: Perfecting the Path of Imperfection… 

    IMG_2290Buddhism is the path of (ego) imperfection, the path of (ego) weakness, strength in numbers, especially zero, simultaneous voidness and infinity, emptiness implying that something is lacking, hopefully, that we are not hard cold single solitary free-standing proper nouns, but warm flexible adjectives, forever ready to be pressed into service to support the demands of solidity, wherever needed and as called for…

    Deepak and Eckhart and Pat and Jerry and all the other latter-day wannabe prophets and modern-day motivational messengers all have one thing in common: they’re fudging: the truth, that is. They all tell you that you can do whatever you want, as long as you never stop dreaming, as long as you never give up your passions, as long as you sacrifice all in the quest of fulfilling your vision, and that your potential is unlimited. Yeah, right… (More …)

     
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