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

    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 9:33 am on September 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , skandhas, Snaskrit   

    Buddhism: Self, Consciousness, DNA and Thought… 

    I am not the same person as yesterday, and I will be a different person tomorrow. I am not DNA code. I am skandhas, anatta, anicca. For those of you unfamiliar with Buddhist terminology in Sanskrit or Pali, then anicca is impermanence, anatta is non-self, and skandhas are the ‘heaps’ of conditions that comprise us. If this all sounds a bit like the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, then please see my previous blog. So, in essence, we are phenomena, undefined and of an uncertain nature. Even the best scientists have not yet figured it all out, and that won’t change the Buddhist perspective, anyway, because it would likely only be later disproven.

    Because the Buddhist perspective is to deny any special preeminent position to the self or the soul, or any other permanent fixed immortal and eternal personality, which is the specialty of some religions, notably Christianity, and in a different way, Hinduism. Thus, this is an ontological position, in the hierarchy of Being and beings, but it also serves to deflate the over-puffed egos of Alpha males and others with more stuffing than substance to their personalities. All that is vanity, hubris, and a threat to the natural order, the human race, and psychological health, which the Buddha intuited long ago, without the benefit of science.

    The fact that Buddhism traditionally reserves a place for a poorly defined ‘rebirth’ seems to show that it is still conflicted with its role in the larger Indian tradition, since it’s difficult to say exactly what it is that gets reborn. The fact that it is unconcerned with that inconsistency would seem to indicate that it’s playing the long game and is willing to let that issue work itself out eventually. The Buddha himself said something similar to that effect, that it’s better to live as if rebirth were a proven fact, even though that proof is not yet there. I’m okay with that. Thus, it also indicates that Buddhism is something of an open doctrine. I’m okay with that, too. Sounds like the Middle Path to me.

    Now I love DNA, but that’s not the subject here. The subject here is me—or the lack thereof. DNA can tell the provenance and much of the story that its humble sponsor—me—and my forebears have taken over the last umpteen millennia—and counting, but it still can’t say much about me. And that thread of DNA winds back into time immemorial, not always recombining, and so may be almost eternal, and thus immortal, but that’s not me. What is ‘me’ is a jumble of memories and perceptions, sensations and reflections, that all often go under the general term ‘thought.’ But consciousness and thought are not synonymous. Thought depends on language. Consciousness does not. That is the difference, and in many ways it is superior. Cogito ergo no sum. Scio ergo sum.

     
  • hardie karges 6:30 am on September 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , skandhas, ,   

    Buddhism is not about getting your groove on; it’s all about… 

    img_0545Control, unwavering control, of yourself, or even better: non-self, if you can manage it, easy enough but for the vicissitudes of will, that one part of the (s)kandhas that escapes easy categorization and refuses to fall blindly into place as but one of the ‘heaps’ that comprise our personalities and personas and persons that we oftentimes think of as ‘self’, or ‘selves’ if you’re bi-polar, or even ‘soul’ if you have long-term plans, or God forbid ‘ego’ if you can think of little else…

    But ‘will’ or ‘volition’ is right there listed alongside the rest of the heap of verbs-turned-nouns that define us in an act of unholy reification, feeling and form and perception and consciousness, only one a true noun, and that an abstract one, all the rest verbs with regular jobs, turned noun, so more than fleeting fancies, all except will, which needs no linguistic crutch-like suffix ‘-ness’ or ‘-tion’ to lean on, or even the gerundive ‘-ing’ to skate by on all fours… (More …)

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 10:30 am on September 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Encouraging piece for one who, like myself, is very language-oriented. Nothing wrong with being wedded to words, of course, as long as one can cut oneself adrift to float upon an ocean of unknowing. Cripes, did I just say that out loud?

      • hardie karges 8:11 pm on September 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Haha, yes, I’m conflicted over the role of language, On the one hand, I love it, and on the other hand, narratives get stuck and clog our minds, pop music the most obvious example, though no problem with jazz. I think the cure is to think more visually more often and reserve language for more creative efforts, so less boring tedious language, just the good stuff…

        • Dave Kingsbury 1:34 am on September 20, 2018 Permalink

          I think the notion of getting stuck is a fruitful one – bit like a vinyl record stylus that just needs a nudge once in a while. Banal pop lyrics, advertising and political slogans – all examples of when words go bad. Music and art a possible cure – and waiting for the right words to come. 🙂

  • hardie karges 6:04 am on July 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , center, , , , , , skandhas, sunya, ,   

    Buddhism, shunyata and the cult of zero… 

    IMG_1559The Buddhist doctrine of shunyata is one of its most famous, and the one that put Mahayana Buddhism on the map, a full step beyond what was envisioned with the original teachings of the Buddha, yet well within that purview. It is usually translated as ’emptiness’ or ‘voidness’, though I prefer ‘zero-ness’, in recognition of the fact that the word ‘shunya’ or ‘sunya’ literally means just that, zero, and in the modern standard language of every Theravada Buddhist country today, still means just that, or a derivation thereof…

    And if that sounds a bit spacey and abstract, it’s probably best thought of as an extended version of the Buddha’s doctrine of anatta or ‘no-self’, or no soul or no ego, i.e. no intrinsic reality to the human personality, which, according to this theory, is merely a collection of (s)kandhas, literally ‘heaps’ of transient characteristics with no permanence… (More …)

     
    • quantumpreceptor 6:29 am on July 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Hey great post and expansion of the zero idea. Even for the fact that zero has been named means that it is something.
      Have you heard of sunyata as being explained as empty of? Empty of its own or independent existence?

      QP

      • hardie karges 7:15 am on July 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks. Yes, I think that your definition is the most commonly accepted one, and if I didn’t say that, then I meant to. Mostly I just wanted to give some context to the development of the doctrine. It seems that ‘shunya’ was discussed even in the Buddha’s time, becoming ‘shunyata’ later on. The invention of the zero was a really big deal, and it just may have much more to do with the development of Buddhism than is commonly acknowledged, a thesis I intend to investigate further. Thanks for your comment…

        • quantumpreceptor 12:23 pm on July 17, 2018 Permalink

          Yes, Hardie, that’s a really interesting idea to develop that further, I can’t wait.

          As for being a discussed​​, I would even say that it was a hot topic. In Tibetan, we have three words rangtong, shentong, and detong. The tong comes from tongpanyi which is Tibetan for shunyata. Rangtong is empty of self-nature​. Many see only rangtong as nihilistic nits nature. Shentong is described as emptiness with something on top. The idea here was that because it could be experienced that the experience was part of reality. This was debated as being materialistic.

          Detong is also very interesting. De comes from Dewa and means great bliss. So detong is seen as the great joy that arises from emptiness. This happens when mind recognizes its own radiant space.

          You may look at these three terms as competing ideas and to some extent be correct. However, you may also see them as a natural progression as one leading to the next as if they were steps along the way. I cannot wait to find out more about your zero theory.

          QP

    • Dave Kingsbury 4:52 pm on July 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Some great practical suggestions that could give town planners something to think about. If they aren’t an endangered species! Seriously, they worry about what to do with empty shops … community hubs? You bring this abstract subject to life by relating it to modern discoveries and issues eg. “It should be noted that this is not much different from the logical conclusions to be drawn from a thorough consideration of the implications of the reality depicted by quantum mechanics: things are not real, not really”

      • hardie karges 6:13 pm on July 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        I’ve always loved Mexican cities, with the central park and lots of community space. I always assumed it was a Spanish thing, but it may actually be pre-Columbian. And what with ‘high streets’ now under the assault of online shopping, it’s probably time to reassess the role of cities…

        • Dave Kingsbury 11:50 am on July 17, 2018 Permalink

          I’d love to think we had matured enough to take considered stock of the past and come up with a better future, though I fear we might be too locked in our mad consumer present …

  • hardie karges 7:48 am on January 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , EckfardtbTolle, , , , , , , , skandhas, , , Tibetan, ,   

    Buddhist Back-Story: Dialectics and Linguistics… 

    img_1935Theravada Buddhism has it easy, when it comes to dhamma (dharma) talks, just pull out the old mind-kilesa-breath-nose-navel-‘Buddho Buddho Buddho’ playbook, rinse and repeat, hard to screw up unless you want to get into the murky afterbirth of past lives and kamma (karma), doing Yogic headstands and plotting Ptolemaic cosmic epicycles, trying to explain how anatta (non-self) somehow gets reborn, when there really is nothing there to begin with. But still they do. It’s embarrassing, especially when some of the same ones…

    …get all goo-goo-eyed at the mention of ‘this present moment’, which I agree with, if not to the extent that some would take it. So how can you have both, not only within the same school of Buddhism, but within the same person, e.g. the Dalai (not Theravada) Lama? I can find you quotes of him advocating ‘nowness’ while Eckhart Tolle was still sleeping on sofas, and at the same time opining that if someone’s life hasn’t quite worked out right, then it’s because of something they did in a past life—ouch! What gives? (More …)

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 4:00 pm on January 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Like any long-lived belief system, I suppose, as complex as people and societies are themselves. The Science connection seems an interesting extension …

      • hardie karges 10:54 pm on January 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, It’s amazing to me that the original Buddhist debate, basically liberal vs. conservative, is still alive today, after countless twists and turns, and analogous to something similar in politics, which is all well and good, I think, as long as everyone can be polite and civilized about it…

        • Dave Kingsbury 2:34 am on January 30, 2018 Permalink

          Indeed. The questions arising from reincarnation are the ones I struggle with. My best shot is to view it as metaphor and therefore helpful for perspective and even humour.

  • hardie karges 7:11 am on September 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Noble Truths, , , skandhas,   

    Buddhism’s Noble Truths: La Vie Est Magnifique, Sois Toi-Meme–NOT… 

    img_2116“Life is magnificent; be yourself.” These words are taken straight from a T-shirt, so hardly authoritative, but I don’t think any phrase could better demonstrate the differences between East and West, the West being something of a personality cult of ones own self, while the East—Buddhism, at least—denies the existence of a self entirely…

    That doctrine of ‘no self’, anatta, translates to us most easily as ‘no ego’, something we are very familiar with, but in fact also refers to the idea of a transmigrating soul, or any permanent self, one that in Asian religious traditions is usually envisioned as forever returning, though a similarly permanent soul is envisioned in Western traditions on a one-way trip up there or down there… (More …)

     
    • davekingsbury 2:57 pm on September 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      As always you tread a distinctive personal path through the subject, bringing it sharply to life. A great contribution to the great and, as you say, urgent debate!

      • hardie karges 5:29 pm on September 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Remember the old Chambers Brothers’ song ‘Time Has Come Today’ (don’t know if that one made it to the UK or not)? Tick tock tick tock…

        • davekingsbury 12:25 am on September 12, 2017 Permalink

          Know it well … Now the time has come / There are things to realize … it behoves us all to go on thinking rather than just turning off and going with the flow – which is not to decry the meditative path!

        • hardie karges 6:35 pm on September 12, 2017 Permalink

          🙂 No, thinking is not a ‘defilement’ in my Buddhism…

        • davekingsbury 1:08 am on September 13, 2017 Permalink

          It is very evident through all your writings. 🙂

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