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  • hardie karges 10:52 am on June 12, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , catuhskoti, , global hunger, , , Law of Excluded Middle, , , tetralemma   

    Buddhist Dependent Origination and the Law of Excluded Middle 

    We worry about Global Warming, and even Global Hunger, but what about Global Hatred and Global Anger? Because the seeds of one are in the other, and there really is no solution short of a comprehensive solution. I mean, is there any real likelihood that Global Warming could ever be solved without also solving other global problems at the same time? It’s not likely. Such is the nature of the Buddhist Law of Dependent Origination, that we are caught in a web of causal connections, even if the details are sometimes best left to the imagination.

    Because the Buddha’s world was one based largely on perception, and introspection, in that order, from the simplest to the most complex, and in which rationality was something radical and revolutionary. But that’s exactly what the Buddha attempted, a full two hundred years before Aristotle, albeit with mixed results. Because Aristotelian logic is an ‘either/or’ choice between any proposition and its negation. There is no middle option with the Law of the Excluded Middle. But Buddhism is all about that middle option, that sweet spot between extremes.

    So, Buddhist logic, aka catuhskoti, aka tetralemma, in addition to the proposition and its negation, also allows both—or neither. Given such logical options, pure perception is likely to be the more accurate description of reality. And that’s what Buddha attempts with the twelve nidanas that comprise the Buddhist Law of Dependent Origination. But words can’t accurately describe a law of nature, so the progression from ignorance, formation, consciousness, name and form, etc., may not necessarily make total sense in the particulars what makes perfect sense in general.

    The Buddha’s path of knowledge was deep introspection, which is the best that you can do without science. Einstein was a master of it with his thought experiments. And Plato did much the same with his Socratic dialogs, forerunner to the modern dialectic of Hegel and others. Jesus’s parables and the Buddha’s sutras accomplish much the same thing, but more in the personal and ethical sphere than in scientific breakthroughs. Einstein’s ‘happiest moment’ and ‘biggest blunder’ were special relativity and the Cosmological Constant, respectively. The Buddha’s were the middle path and the underestimation of women. He was only human, after all.

  • hardie karges 10:23 am on June 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: beauty, , , , goodness, , , , , tetralemma, truth   

    Buddhism in the Facebook Era: Truth Falls Flat in the Face of Entertainment 

    I’ve often said that the ultimate quest in a human’s life—my life—is for truth, beauty and goodness, with the implication being that this is the proper field of inquiry for religion and philosophy. But is that what really happens? Beauty isn’t so hard nor controversial, since we tend to all have similar views on what inspires feelings of beauty, if not art, within us, and not dissimilar to the quick and easy Internet definition on MS Bing: “a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.”

    That sounds about right, now, doesn’t it? And even more so when slightly modified to allow that this combination of qualities might also “please the intellect or moral sense.” Cool. Sounds good to me. I think that we can all agree on that. And the concept of goodness dovetails nicely into that concept of beauty, such that it almost serves the chief purpose of clarifying exactly what we mean when we talk about goodness or simply ‘the good.’ And that’s exactly what the ancient Greek philosophers talked about, they who basically invented the term ‘philosophy,’ and for whom the definition of ‘goodness’ was something like: “you’ll know it when you see it.”

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  • hardie karges 10:42 am on May 31, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Diamond Sutra, Dunhuang, Kumarajiva, , matrices, Mogao Caves, , Takla Makan Desert, tetralemma, Xinjiang,   

    New Diamond Sutra: Utility is the Measure of Beauty 

    Diamond Sutra: So I tell you – Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world: A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream; A flash of lightning in a summer cloud, A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream. When the Buddha finished this Discourse the venerable Subhuti, together with the bhikshus, bhikshunis, lay-brothers and sisters, and the whole realms of Gods, Men and Titans, were filled with joy by His teaching, and, taking it sincerely to heart, they went their ways…

    The Diamond Sutra (Sanskrit: वज्रच्छेदिकाप्रज्ञापारमितासूत्र, Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra) is the oldest printed and dated book in the world, all of which occurred on the 11th day of May in 868 CE, notwithstanding the fact that the book is certainly older than that. But this is from the first Chinese translation, which occurred c.401CE by the venerable Kumarajiva from Kashmir, one of my Buddhist heroes, while in prison in Xinjiang (sound familiar?), and before he found his place in the capital at Chang’an (now Xi’an). The signed dated copy–for free distribution only–was found in the Mogao Caves at Dunhuang a lttle more than a century ago. Nothing rots in the desert.

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  • hardie karges 4:59 pm on February 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , tetralemma, ,   

    Buddhism and the Middle Path between Life and Logic… 

    The Middle Path is not straight and narrow, but rather long and winding. But this is one of the common misconceptions about Buddhism, that the Middle Path is some sort of magic pill, that you can pop at will, and presto change-o, you’re enlightened and enwisened beyond all time and all space and any ill-conceived dualistic perception of the two.

    But it’s not always that simple. Sure, it works well as a quickie compromise. Can’t decide between hot and cold? No problem: choose the lukewarm option, and that will usually suffice, as long as you aren’t too picky about your flavors. But note that this doesn’t always work. For instance, when the Mahayana Buddhists revised the Middle Path as a choice between existence and non-existence, the choices are thrown into starker focus.

    Is there a Middle Path between existence and non-existence? If we adopt the position that Buddhism itself is a Middle Path between the suicidal tendencies of Jainists and the wildest imaginations of Vedantists, then the question is self-fulfilling by simple acceptance of the basic premises of Buddhism.

    But it is certainly not likely that that is the original meaning, so further ruminations on the existence of self are a better bet, in which the original Theravada Buddhists (and the Buddha himself) posited an imaginary self, that exists in a conventional, but not a permanent, way, and which is a cause of much of our suffering, if not all of it, i.e. not necessarily ‘the’ cause, since Sanskrit has no grammatical articles, definite or indefinite.

    ‘Sunyata’, ‘emptiness’, expanded on this concept, such that everything has only an imaginary existence, very quantum-friendly. In all likelihood, though, the dichotomy between existence and non-existence is ‘merely’ an act of logic, tetra-lemma in style, in which anything that can be asserted can also be denied, or both accepted and denied, or neither accepted nor denied. That’s Indian logic, catuskoti. Go figure.

    But the original Middle Path is much easier to digest and much easier to incorporate into one’s normal life of decisions and planning. Thus the Middle Way is a metaphysical position of non-extremism, which goes far beyond the Buddha’s original considerations of luxury versus extreme asceticism. As already indicated, Buddhism itself could be considered a sort of Middle Path, which I think it is.

    And it is not always straight and narrow, but often winding and zig-zag, and can even be seen as the ‘sweet spot’ between extremes. Moreover, it can even be seen as the synthesis resulting between thesis and antithesis in any given dialectic. Thus the Middle Way is more than a path. It is balance.

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

    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?


      • 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 7:38 am on May 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Buddhist Studies, , , , , , , , , , , , tetralemma,   

    Buddhist Studies: lists of lists, definitions defined and translations translated… 

    img_2116If there’s anything more annoying, as a Buddhist Studies MA student, than having to memorize lists of lists after lists full of lists from the annals of the ancients, it’s having to plow through the re-definitions of all those terms from the mouths of the moderns (is ‘anals’ a word?). This is not high scholarship. This is the business of busy-work, the intellectual equivalent of keeping that shovel moving to justify your union job, or to keep your position as the arbiter of privilege in the fan-boy chat-pages of Facebook…

    Yet that’s what they all do, in the Western Lands, at least, and even in the temples, too, as if only one new definition ‘changes everything’, so that the Pali/Sanskrit word ‘dukkha‘ is no longer merely ‘suffering’ but ‘stress’, ‘anguish, ‘dissatisfaction’, or maybe even just ‘a spot of unpleasantness’ so easily resolved by following that Yellow Brick Road known as the 8FP, Eight-fold Path, when the reality is not so easy at all… (More …)

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