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

    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 1:24 am on October 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ethics, , Jain, , , , , , , Vedanta   

    Buddhism and the long winding path: No soul for me, please, and make that karma ‘lite’… 

    Salvation implies a soul to be saved. I’d prefer some enlightenment, in this lifetime. And that’s a fundamental tenet of Buddhism, of course, the lack of a permanent enduring soul to guide you through the ages, or even a solid existent self to call your own in this lifetime, the basis for egotism and possession, and all the misgivings of misplaced attachments. And if that seems like a significant deviation from the teachings of Christ, then it was even more of a deviation from the early Vedic-inspired teachings of India, including Jainism and what we now call Hinduism. For if the Vedantic Hindus want a Self to unite with a Cosmos, an Atman to unite with a Brahman, then the Jains want to find a soul in everything, every little thing, be it rock, insect or umbrella. It’s not just that everything is alive, but it’s permanent and enduring. The Buddha thought he saw something simpler than all these machinations of overwrought mentality, which are just linguistic conveniences standing up and asking to be counted, when in reality there is really nothing there, just ‘mental formations’ or something like that. After all, if everything has a soul, then what do we do to acknowledge that? The Jain answer was: not much. Just sit, sit, and sit some more. It’ll all go away sooner or later. Every action was possessed of karmas, plural. Now that may seem like a strange definition of karma, but they likely invented the concept, so that’s their right. Others saw it differently, for once the cat of karma was out of the bag, so to speak, then there is no end to it, the generation-jumping karma of retribution and the things we’ll do to avoid it. If religion craves certainty, then this became the Hindu leitmotif, past lives and reincarnation, which, like conspiracy theory, cannot be disproven, so it must be true. But don’t we need some semblance of free will, simply for the dictates of morality and ethics? So I prefer something simpler, ‘karma lite’ if you prefer: Do good and life is good. Do bad and life is bad. That’s karma, actions. You will be rewarded by them, not for them…

    • quantumpreceptor 7:08 am on October 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Hardy, good job boiling things down and making them simple enough to live them.


    • Passport Overused 8:01 am on October 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Great post 😊

    • hardie karges 10:57 am on October 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply


    • Dave Kingsbury 4:41 pm on October 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      You will be rewarded by them, not for them… great insight here, the circle squared perhaps?

    • hardie karges 11:45 pm on October 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Actually I may have modified a quote from the Dalai Lama there, so should give credit, not sure of his exact words. ‘Circle squared’, though: I like that…

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