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  • hardie karges 10:48 am on January 15, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brahmin caste, , , , , , , Hittite, , , Mittani, , , , Vajrayana   

    Buddhism 101: Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions 

    Think good thoughts, speak good words, perform good acts. It’s contagious. It’s catching. It can make the difference between life and death. And that’s the bedrock of Buddhism, regardless of what the ‘rebirther’ Buddhists or the meditator Buddhists think, they tending to Vajrayana and Mahayanist persuasions, respectively, whether they know it or not, haha. Because the Buddha didn’t call his initial sermon the Four Noble Truths for nothing, and that’s Number One: Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions…

    And if that sounds a lot like a song by Franz Ferdinand, then so be it. And if that sounds a lot like the Ten Commandments, then so be it. It’s simple. It’s basic. It’s universal, as it should be. Now I won’t go into the fact that Four Noble Truths can also be translated Four Aryan Truths, but there may be a clue to its universality there. Hittites of Mideast fame were also Indo-Europeans and may have accomplished much more than merely be a thorn in the side of the Semites. The nearby Mittani culture also had close connections with Sanskrit speakers…

    But that’s neither here nor there, and only serves to agitate modern India’s Brahmin caste. What’s important is not nationalism, but rationalism, the kind that thinks before it speaks and looks before it leaps. That was implicit in the earliest Buddhism, also, with its insistence upon the acknowledgement of causes and conditions for all the phenomena of the world, not superstition or divine intervention. And that’s Dependent Origination in a nutshell, a theory that not only defines us, but combines us. We’re all in this together, literally. Be kind.

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  • hardie karges 9:55 am on October 16, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , pindapatha, , , Sri Lanka, , Vajrayana   

    Buddhism in the Balance: Why Do Men Dominate the Sangha? 

    The Sangha should be not just a brotherhood of monks, but a brotherhood of man, and a sisterhood of women. This is a bit of a sore subject for Buddhism, too, since the beginning, firstly because in its original inception it WAS a bit explicitly oriented towards saffron-robed renunciants, with distinctly less concern for the surrounding community, even though that surrounding community indeed were the very people charged with feeding those same renunciant monks everyday by means of dana provided during the alms-round pindapatha.

    This indeed was much of the discussion and dispute that resulted in the formation of a bodhisattva-and-community-oriented Mahayana tradition to enhance the original monk-oriented Theravada tradition. So far, so good. The two traditions managed to co-exist, as they still do to this day. Women haven’t fared so well, though. The Buddha finally allowed them to ordain as full renunciant nuns, but only with grudging acceptance and after much exhortation by a female family member. Then, to add insult to injury, the Buddha stated that the dharma would only last for a fraction of the time that it would’ve otherwise lasted, a fact which some monks use to rub salt in the wound to this day.

    Yes, modern monks of the Theravadin and Tibetan Vajrayana traditions proudly elucidate the reasons why nuns can’t be ordained, mostly that because the tradition once died out, then it can’t possibly be revived, can it? So, nuns from Thailand go to Sri Lanka, where the tradition is intact, to ordain, and then go back to Thailand to practice. Ironically the only reason that any Buddhism is intact in Sri Lanka is because Thailand helped them to reboot the system there after it had died out totally, even though Sri Lanka is where Thailand got their Theravada in the first place. Whew! That was close! Yes, it’s complicated.

    But mostly it’s just good old-fashioned patriarchy and misogyny that keeps women begging at the gates. Sayadawgyi Mahasi in Yangon, Myanmar, writes that if women are lucky, then they will be reborn as men, so… with that kind of attitude, then it’s no wonder that there is a problem. So, rebirth is used as a justification for patriarchy and not only the Brahmin caste superiority that I’ve long credited them with. Even in my own forest temple in Thailand, the senior monk made it clear that women need not apply for residence, even though I, a foreigner, Thai-speaking admittedly, was warmly welcomed. Women still have a long way to go. Keep the faith. Hearts are there to be warmed.

     
  • hardie karges 4:09 pm on September 25, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Japan, , , , , , , Vajrayana,   

    Buddhism and the Dialectic of Deliverance… 

    Buddhism needs no fancy metaphysics nor linguistics, multiple hells nor forty-two flavors of emptiness. Kindness and compassion are enough, metta and karuna and all that jazz. Which is one of the singular beauties of the faith, of course, that almost nothing is required up front, but some goodwill and a policy of non-aggression, ahimsa, such that oftentimes simply doing nothing, absolutely nothing, is the preferred path to advancement, simply because all other options are of lesser benefit.

    Some sects of Buddhism prefer a more elaborate presentation of gods and goddesses, but this is entirely optional and the historical Buddha himself had none of it. In fact, I’m not sure that the historical Buddha would even recognize Tibetan Vajrayana, or Japanese Zen, as something of his own inspiration. But such is the evolution of culture and language, so that a random mutation can be almost guaranteed to occur every eighty years or so, just like the DNA from which we all descend.

    But that doesn’t mean that Tibetan and Japanese Buddhists have nothing in common. They do. It’s just that these two almost-opposite branches of Buddhism are poised like the horns of a dilemma to offer themselves up as starting points for the next phase of dialectical Buddhism. So, given the superstitious and elaborate nature of Vajrayana and the sparse linguistic and meditation-oriented nature of Zen, what would be the next logical step for Buddhism to advance, at least in the West, that great field of dreams left to conquer?

    It just might be the original Theravadin style, with or without the religious trappings, so a more secular but traditional Buddhism, for lack of better terminology. And this is the current situation in the West, where those two extremes have found highest favor with the freedom-loving West, while the more disciplined original approach has found little favor—until now. Because the current acceptance of secular Buddhism goes back to the Early Buddhist roots in many important ways, but without karma, rebirth and past lives. The only question is how all of this will play out I the long run. My fingers are crossed. We are in need of some new synthesis to advance forward…

     
  • hardie karges 10:06 am on August 14, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Occam's Razor, , , , Vajrayana,   

    Buddhism for Dummies, Hold the Salsa… 

    My 6th grade teacher was correct: our mouths cause most of our problems. Samma Vaca is Right Speech, part of the Buddhist Eightfold Path. Of course, Ms. What’s-her-name knew little or nothing of Buddhism but that makes no difference. Buddhism is at its best as common sense, and that’s what the Eightfold path is all about. Three of the paths that comprise the Eightfold Path you might already know from the Franz Ferdinand song ‘Right Action,’ which also trumpets (and guitars) Right Thoughts and Right Words.

    The other components of the path include Right Intention, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration (meditation), depending on translations and personal proclivities. For example, ‘mindfulness’ is all the rage in online Buddhist circles, but ‘awareness’ or even ‘consciousness’ might be a better translation of the Pali word sati (Sanskrit smrti), since they’re easy to use in any normal conversation, while ‘mindfulness’ is rarely used outside of Buddhist or meditation circles (though ‘mindful’ might be).

    And that’s the way I like my Buddhism, down-to-earth and easy to understand. Zen tries to get all Dadaesque, in its effort to go beyond language, but only confuses many people in the process. And Vajrayana puts the magic in the wand for those who need that, but none of that is really necessary for the Buddhism that the Buddha envisaged. And those early guys admittedly tried to make it more complicated, too, even grouping the Eightfold Path into a three-part collection of ethics, meditation, and wisdom, without really changing anything in the process. Sometimes the simplest way is the best, just like Occcam’s Razor, for a smooth close shave, haha…

     
  • hardie karges 1:42 pm on July 10, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: antithesis, , , , , , , , , , , synthesis, , thesis, Vajrayana   

    Buddhism in the Bardo: the Language of Dialectic and the Silence of Meditation… 

    Language cannot solve the problems that language creates. Only silence can do that. This is one of those inherent little foundations of Buddhism, also, like non-aggression and the limits to fulfillment, that often get lost in the shuffle of rebirth, karma, and the endless choices of past lives. But that is the essence of philosophy, and religion, to find some reason to live, without expending too much time and energy in the process, and so often that involves divine intervention—or magic…

    And that’s where Buddhism tried to be different, at least in the beginning, though the pressure to spice things up is almost irresistible, and so Buddhism was not so much different. Like Christianity a few hundred years later, it started with basic precepts, or commandments, and proceeded from that humble starting point. And to be honest, the starting points of Buddhism and Christianity were not so much different in their original conceptions.

    Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat: the basic precepts were very similar in the Abrahamic religions of the Mideast and the Dharmic religions of India. They weren’t that far apart, really, geographically or conceptually, so that may be more than a coincidence. Considering the Aryan migration eastward, also, now proven genetically, the ‘meeting of East and West’ may not have been much more than a meeting at the most convenient location, rather than some journey that required Marco Polos, Fa Hians, and Ibn Battutahs to accomplish, though they did that, too…  

    But Buddhism went through much more of a dialectical process of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, over the course of its 2500 years, something implied if not intended, in its mantra of the Middle Path between extremes, so that the three major schools of Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana can be seen in precisely that light, something like discipline and devotion having babies, and calling it Dharma. But at the core of them all was always meditation, and that was silent. Christianity still hasn’t learned that trick. Maybe one day they will.

     
  • hardie karges 6:41 am on August 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , Vajrayana   

    Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam 101: Religion on the Rebound, Religion on the Run… 

    img_1893All three major international religions have carried their original premises to ridiculous extremes, along with their adherents, whether cause or effect, those original premises all quite similar, and compatible, variations on the themes of love, righteousness, and perseverance, each with a different focus, Christianity on the love, Islam on the righteousness, and Buddhism on the perseverance…

    And from these humble commendable compatible and civilizing influences, each has gone their own ways, Islam to the extremes of religious fundamentalism, holy wars and unholy alliances; Christianity drenched in sex, drugs, and all that rap; and Buddhist perseverance easily given over to passivity, even in the face of the most egregious assaults on basic human rights, individuals reduced to fit in cages, self-imposed prisons of consciousness… (More …)

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

    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 7:52 am on November 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , branding, , , , , , , , , Vajrayana   

    The 49 Flavors of American Buddhism… 

    img_1936In the old days of Nikaya Buddhism, in India, before the Common Era, there were at least seventeen schools of Buddhism, chiefly Sthviravada-derived (including Theravada, Sammatiya, Sautrantika, Savarvastivada, Mulasarvastivada, etc.), and Mahasanghika-derived (Yogacara, Madhyamika, etc.), before finally settling into the three broad Theravada, Mahayana, and Tibetan-Esoteric-Vajrayana-Mantrayana ‘schools’ that we know today. Get the picture? Buddhists are not known for doctrinal agreement…

    Neither is Amerika known for its agreements, especially where Buddhist knowledge and tradition is almost totally lacking, so open to much doctrinal obfuscation and outright perjury, since the Buddha is currently hipper than sh*t, and abuse is rife. So cannabis conventions, openly proffering THC and other cannabinoids as ‘medical marijuana’ can call themselves ‘Buddhafest’ with no repercussions and likely increases in ticket sales as if such is recommended by the Big Guy himself—it isn’t, and strictly prohibited, in fact… (More …)

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

    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 9:52 am on June 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , philkosophy, , Vajrayana   

    #Buddhism #Christianity #Islam: All #Religions Work—if you let them… 

    IMG_1559All religions want the same thing—goodness in general, peace brotherhood compassion and mercy in particular. But their prime proponent visionaries—Buddha, Christ and Prophet—each saw different ways of getting there—non-self and non-craving first, love and forgiveness next, and then finally submission and surrender. And all of them can work, if maybe more appropriate for different groups of people at different times in history…

    In 5-600 BC, Buddhism was the perfect message, in a violent greedy war-torn world more or less centered around India, and ready for meditation (and anyone who imagines that the world was calm and peaceful before the advent of religion is tripping). In year 0-100 CE Christianity was spot on target for a world increasingly shifted westward to new fertile ground, the Fertile Crescent, and based on and around Roman power in the Mediterranean, ready for bread and circuses, passion and power… (More …)

     
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