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  • hardie karges 9:09 am on September 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Carlos Castaneda, , , , Gardenm of Eden, , , , thought   

    Buddhism: The Limits of Language and the Benefits of Meditation 

    The wisest person has the mind of a child, always open, always learning, with no preconceptions, and higher advanced concepts optional. It almost seems like we spend the first half of our lives cluttering up our minds with useless nonsense, and then spend the second half of our lives trying to undo all that. Ha! But language is like that, isn’t it? Once we invented it, then we made it part of our central conscious operating system, as if nothing could be more natural. Could it have been any other way? Was the invention of language merely an accident? It’s debatable. Could we have made a decision to keep it as a plaything but reject its centrality in our conscious interface with reality?

    The experience of our modern computerized world would indicate that once we have a new language, then not only will we certainly use it, but it will spread like a virus within us, restless and hungry, assuming a centralized position with our process of consciousness and expanding as rapidly as it can. It almost sounds like a business, ha! But mostly it sounds like DNA. And that is why anthropolinguistics was once so crucial to the study of prehistory prior to the advent of DNA genomics. Because language also mutates and so leaves ‘markers’ along its historic path, all of which can be coordinated chronologically, just like non-recombinant y-DNA and mt-DNA do…

    But what’s good for business and cultural evolution are not necessarily what’s good for healthy human psychology. And so, we meditate, to reverse that very process that is so profitable for our wallets and dangerous for our enemies. For it is no accident that the remaining hominid species besides our own disappeared soon after our acquisition of language. And so the prime purpose of meditation is to stop the internal dialogue, if only for a second, or a few minutes, or an hour, or a lifetime. When I discussed meditation with some neurological researchers, that’s the first question they asked: “Can you stop the internal dialogue?” That’s the main point that I can remember of Carlos Castañeda’s Don Juan character, also, in his ‘Tales of Yaqui Power,’ etc…

    Is language the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden? Maybe. The analogy would seem to hold, not that good and evil are really on offer, but the fallacious and pretentious knowledge of such is always a temptation, and forever destined to fail. With language we are suddenly faced with a duality of mind and body, one doing all the talking and the other a captive audience. We externalize the dialogue to turn all that brilliance and perspicacity loose on the world, but with mixed results. It seems that language creates more problems than it can solve and resolve. And so we meditate. The mind is a minefield, enmeshed in views. Sometimes it’s simply better to forego thought, or at least language…

  • hardie karges 11:35 am on March 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Corona, , , , thought,   

    Buddhism in Viral Times, Reflections from Coronas… 

    Live every moment as if it might be your last, in quiet peaceful reflection, like water. And if this virus has anything to teach us, which I believe it does, then this is certainly one of them, that panic is counter-productive, just as superficial excitement is ephemeral and fleeting, transient by nature. That concept gets a bum rap from social conventions, of course, in Buddha’s time, as well as our own, that anything temporary is by definition flawed and conducive to suffering. The implication, quite naturally, is that permanence is the desired state and condition of nature, and by extension—matter. Extensions fall flat, though, because that would be something like a false equivalency, when the truth lies in the very nature of our medium of discourse. Communication by language does not create castles in the countryside, but only in the sand. Everything is subject to its limits. Just as the painted picture creates fine lines and eye candy, and song produces sweet sounds and ear candy, language is limited to just that, great thoughts and mind candy, but not reality. We can create our reality to some extent, true, especially if that reality is kindness and compassion, but we can’t create the universal laws of physics, except in that they are a representation of nature, as universally perceived. And it is our task to find our place in that nature, but not to control it, for our own selfish benefits. Because this is false permanence, the permanence of possession and ownership, when that is beyond our capabilities, as transient tenants upon this semi-solid rock in motion around a flaming solar orb, ten thousand light-years from home, and another ten from our destination. In order to get the right answers to the questions of our lives, then we must ask the right questions. Religion should not be a matter of blind faith and fear. It should be a matter of knowledge, freedom and self-control…

  • hardie karges 4:00 pm on December 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , thought   

    Buddhist Dilemma: Does Mindfulness = No Thought? Hmmm… 


    Reflections in the back seat

    ‘Mindfulness’ is one of those words deliberately created to defy definition, it seems, so when anybody asks me what it means I usually reply with something semi-snarky, like “the opposite of mindlessness” which seems like maybe avoiding the question, but which in fact is about as accurate as is possible, given the quasi-religious overtones and the need for a certain amount of obfuscation for dramatic effect, such being the need in Western circles, witness the ‘woo-woo’ factor of certain Pali/Sanskrit words like ‘samadhi‘…

    But the word ‘sati‘, from which ‘mindfulness’ is translated, by itself carries no transcendent connotations, at least not in modern standard Thai, in which it means simply ‘consciousness’ or ‘mind’, in the sense that one’s sati, i.e. brain, is maybe not so good anymore, or that he now has sati, i.e. is no longer unconscious—get it? And the usage of the term in Buddhism is not so much different, I think, and mindfulness is probably the best term for it, mind twice removed from pure simplicity, first with a ‘full’, next with a ‘ness’. But doesn’t that imply some level of thought, whether in narrative form or simple awareness, of cause and effect, spatial relations and orderliness? I would think so. So…

    (More …)

    • quantumpreceptor 3:26 pm on December 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      No thought, no. It’s the space between the thoughts where things get very interesting.


    • hardie karges 3:58 pm on December 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      True, BUT…. I think (oops!) there’s always room for thought–good thoughts…

    • quantumpreceptor 1:52 am on December 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      What I mean is this. Thoughts are not a problem in fact they can be used as a tool in the right circumstances. Avoiding them does not work, however slowing them down and seeing into the space between them is where we can begin to see that all is a reflection in the mirror of consciousness.


    • hardie karges 3:45 am on December 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      There you go, now we’re on the same page…

  • hardie karges 7:22 pm on October 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , thought   

    Religion 101: the Quest for Meaning 

    Hindu God

    Hindu God

    In the Beginning was the Question: WTF? And thus was born Consciousness, self-consciousness, both blessing and curse. Could the origins of consciousness be of anything besides the juxtaposition of Self and Other? I doubt it. From that is born the recognition of basic relationships, very similar to Boolean logic: more than, less than, equal to, etc. This is primal thought, thought without language. From that all the plethora and panoply of consciousness is possible.

    Now that we have language, it’s hard to imagine thinking without it, because we certainly do think in a language, just as does a computer. But computers existed, and had functions, before language, and so did we humanoids: not much, perhaps, but some, enough to populate several continents, apparently for no other reason than that they were there, and had food.

    From the basic relationships come causal relationships: if this, then that, every time, so one must be the cause of the other. Animals do this all the time, and without language, as we know it. Yet they exist—and have meaning, to us, at least. This cause-effect relationship I suspect is the origin of ‘reason’, in fact, and arises very early in the history of thought, in fact the same word in some languages. (More …)

  • hardie karges 9:28 am on November 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , thought   

    Chinese characters were ahead the time. 

    In an evolutionary quirk Chinese pictograms never became alphabetic letters, but letters quickly held hands and formed pictures. If left to their own devices, vowels might only form verbs and consonants likewise with nouns, but because of love or the sheer thrill of excitement, consonants and vowels like male and female meet in mid-air, sniff each other, make love, and produce babies running wild with inspiration. Usually pictures gradually become symbolic characters until they become letters, like the alpha beta gamma, aleph beth gimmel, ox house and camel of Semitic origin, twisting and turning and doing flips until they find a comfortable position and retire as the president of the ABC of the future. Ironically, though, it seems that once a word is known, the original phonetic code is superfluous and letters become essentially the same as the brush strokes of Chinese calligraphy. They form a word/picture that is grasped immediately in its entirety, without the necessity of considering the phonetic information involved, even though the word might be silently pronounced in the mind’s vocal chords. Is it possible to read silently without ‘hearing’ the words in the mind’s inner ear? Is it possible to think without language? The definition of thought makes much mention of pictures, none of language. Yet the component quarks of alphabetic script are definitely waves, not the particles of Chinese ideograms. The Chinese characters hanging out in a thousand chop suey kitchens in the Great American west are another story.

  • hardie karges 5:21 pm on November 16, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , thought   

    If Chomsky’s winning the debate over psycho- vs. socio-linguistics, 

    then I’d say it’s because the world is slowly but surely becoming a cultural, if not linguistic, unity, chocked to the gills with gadgets and thingamajigs and the materialistic culture that produces it, promotes it, and ultimately explains it away. Most languages tend to simplify over time, dropping dual number and sexual inflection and unnecessary tenses and aspects, opting for the simple analytic isolating style of Chinese, and increasingly, English. Nothing may seem more obvious than a S-V-O system in which subjects go around verbing the Hell out of objects, but that is merely convention, without any prior or inherent logic. Despite conscious efforts on the part of editors and schoolmarms to iron out the historical kinks, sentences in the passive voice, like this one, are still being written by educated speakers of the English language. Furthermore, if I have anything to do with it, they will continue to be, notwithstanding the green lines crawling through my text like geckos through my house here in Thailand. Vestiges of archaic speech remain in all languages. We like it that way. Even in the analytic no-tense no-nonsense Asian languages, the ages of speaker and person spoken to are in constant reference. I doubt that Romance languages will ever lose the gender of a noun needing modification, as if there were something intrinsically feminine about a coffeepot. Europeans are hung up on sex; Asians are hung up on age. No matter how many sentences you diagram, language and logic are not the same, and cultural magic will be lost when and if we all speak the same language, whether or not with different words. I prefer linguistic heterosis, hybrid vigor, languages mating and mutating through cultural necessity to create the cultural reality that will eventually explain it. I’m ready to get out of my rut and get into a groove. That’s the beauty of language. It allows you to do that.

  • hardie karges 1:51 pm on November 15, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , thought   

    Do I really think in complete sentences 

    or does my shining the light of observation only make it seem that way, like getting your act together when you see a police car in the rear-view mirror? Do nouns really need verbs to make sense? I doubt they did in the remote beginning when a name was probably a highly ritualized symbol for the thing itself for religious purposes. Nouns needed verbs no more than consonants needed vowels to sweeten the harsh sounds of males creating civilizations to replace the nature worship of all things female. I suspect that language started as a shaman’s tool, a magical sound to represent the real thing in stories and incantations back when hand motions served as verbs. Shamans created language in all its wonder till businessmen came along and stole its thunder, putting language down on paper in the service of commerce. And the rest is history. To this root word were gradually affixed the verbs, adjectives, and adverbs necessary to put this subject through the motions and drama of life and death. These affixed sounds might be bound to the particular subject as prefixes or suffixes or it might be a free form able to interact with any other form.

  • hardie karges 3:45 am on November 10, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , thought   

    Much has also been made of the inherent propensities for language 

    which seem to be specific only to humans, without ever stating exactly what these properties are, much less how they are transmitted. I’d probably estimate that language is more of an invention that an inheritance, but that something is likely inherited that underlies language, probably the logic or causality of it. In Asian languages ‘here’ and ‘now’ are frequently variations of the same word, sound, morpheme, phoneme, whatever, as are ‘then’ and ‘there’, so maybe that sort of equivalence and general space-time coordination is inherent. Maybe the sentence structure of subject-verb-object is the ‘innate idea’ of language that’s inherited, regardless of how long it’s taken some languages to make that explicit. The central idea of an ‘I’ acting on ‘them’ is easily intuited, but the idea of a ‘they’ acting on ‘them’, rather than a ‘them’ somehow attracting the attentions of another, may be equally inherent, at least in this expansive phase of the Big Bang universe. During the Big Squeeze, if everything we experience happens all over again except in reverse order, then logic may indeed be similarly reversed, and guns may indeed suck the bullets out of bodies, with no apparent violation of causality. Nevertheless, all this may very well be the first thing a child learns in this world, even before speech, but not inherited. Language is an invention. Though perhaps bound to happen, hominids were nevertheless without it for most of their history, as they proceeded to tame fire, use tools, and bury their dead.

  • hardie karges 7:55 am on November 9, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , thought   

    The history of language is a family tree that maybe began with a single stalk. 

    They say that 5% of any two languages will show similarities, as if that proves the insignificance of any similarities when in fact it may show just the opposite. They may well have all derived from just a very few, maybe just one. Don’t be surprised if that evolution parallels the evolution of homo sapiens sapiens themselves, if not directly, then by analogy. Whether there is any direct connection between language and DNA or not, they seem to function similarly in how they evolve over time. Much is made of the fact that homos are the only species that can speak, then going into elaborate explanations of the human vocal chords having worked their way deep into the throat for proper enunciation of modern languages. All this seems a bit anthropocentric to me, diminishing if not outright ignoring or rejecting the fact that communication can be equally, if not more, effective in other ways. If anything, humans’ own writing systems are more articulate than the speech they represent, but which may never actually be vocalized, particularly in the case of mathematical equations. Beyond the human sphere, other animals convey rather complex information, which, while it cannot be properly regarded as speech, is certainly a form of communication, i.e. transfer of information.

  • hardie karges 5:28 am on November 6, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , thought   

    The ‘mentalese’ the Chomskyans are looking for, is likely thought itself. 

    That’s not language properly speaking, and applies to lower animals, as well. Once we have language, we proceed to think in it, but that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t think without it. The idea that, since all languages are so similar, and since all children learn them so easily, then there must be an underlying ‘mental language’, makes a few non-provable conclusions based on a few non-provable assumptions, though it may fall short of outright begging the question. For one thing, though I love kids, their linguistic prowess is not impressive to me. Think what you might do if you had one-on-one instruction every day for four or five years with literally nothing else to occupy your mind and everything to gain for your efforts. Secondly, since when are all languages so similar? They may indeed all be coming closer together whether because of international English or the simple logic and proven effectiveness of S-V-O word order, but that is recent and tentative. There is a much longer history of languages categorized as synthetic/analytical, inflected, or agglutinative. There may be an even earlier period when languages were more similar. Nevertheless, if languages are indeed similar, there may be an even better reason for the phenomenon. They may all derive ultimately from the same parent language before they literally went separate ways.

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