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  • hardie karges 6:41 am on February 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asanga, , D.T. Suzuki, lotus, , , posture, Tsongkhapa   

    Buddhism, and Meditations on Nothingness… 

    img_0991If my stated mission here is to try to rid Buddhism of all unnecessary superstitions, in order to modernize it for its new role as leader in the modern world’s philosophical conversation, then the roll-out of that role is seldom clear-cut and the results rarely definitive. Once in a while, though, I score a clear-cut victory in my battle against BS, and we can all share a laugh at some of the absurdities involved in following a 2500 year-old religion, and trying to keep it relevant for the homies in 2018…

    This is one of the perks of getting a MA degree in Buddhist studies, poking around the nooks and crannies of the discipline and getting a bird’s-eye (monk’s-eye?) view of what goes on in there. So, many is the time that I have said that IMHO there are only two kinds of meditation—guided and unguided—and that everything else is BS, regarding exactly what is the object of meditation, and exactly which nostril to breathe through, uh huh… (More …)

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  • hardie karges 7:41 am on February 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , Sanskrit   

    Buddhism: Meeting of East and West, Aryans and Dravidians, Nobles and… 

    IMG_1184

    Buddhist shrine in Sri Lanka

    …us, of R1 genome, y-DNA, that is, not mitochrondial, we the barbarians from the north, land of ice and snow, with broken hearts and bad manners, satisfying ourselves with whomever whenever wherever, animal instincts and animal appetites, with an inclination toward wheels, and gears, and wine, and dark beers, anything to make the boring food go down easier, trail food, and whatever gets you through the night…

    But it must have something incredible to watch, erstwhile Aryans, light-skinned and beefy, from creamy milk, rolling in over the high plains, toward India, literally rolling, in chariots and carts pulled by horses and oxen, herding cows and goats and wayward children, lording it over the local slim swarthy dark-skinned Dravidians, so-called, for lack of a better name, in what must have been the world’s first great culture clash, the likes of which wouldn’t be seen again until the American genocide, this just the preamble to that constitution… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:45 am on February 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Buddhism, Dreams and Intimations of Mortality… 

    IMG_1559The Burmese came for me that night. I don’t know what I’d done wrong, but I wasn’t waiting around to find out, either. They did not look too happy, any of them, waving arms and guns, and shouting orders, and calling out rude names. So I split, left, took a hike, and quickly, out the back door and down dark alleys, hiding in shadows and avoiding all lights, for fear of being ‘outed’, me and my white skin, ripe for plucking, and easy to bruise and abuse…

    So I headed for the river, since they were no hills, and I didn’t know where else to go. I needed a path out, and that’s what a river represents—a path out. Mountains represent something else—maybe infinity—and that’s my preference, but a river will have to do. They have to lead somewhere: that’s a law of nature. If I ever get out, then I’ll decide what to do next, and where to go…

    The only problem is getting there, through bottom lands and marsh, privet hedge and canebrake, nature gone wild and possessive, willing to do anything to impede my passage, like putting up walls and fences, and the illusion of solidity, when all the while the real trap was beneath me, the muck and the mud; and the going is hard…

    So I lightened my load as light as I could make it, just me and rude nature, thickets and wild roses, probably beautiful by daylight, but treacherous by night, thorns ripping my flesh and bugs howling around my ears, like the roar of lions and the wail of coyotes—but wait! That must be the dogs, getting nearer, hot on my trail, and presumably thirsty for blood and hungry for meat…

    I can’t go on any more. The muck is too deep and the weeds are too thick. I must be near the river, since the muck has now turned to water, but it’s now too late to survey the situation, since I’m tangled up in green, tangled up in wood. There is nothing left to do but lie low, bide my time, limit my actions, and hope for the crisis to pass. If I can bury myself in the water, then maybe the wind won’t carry my smell, which must be considerable by now…

    So that’s what I do, watch and wait, biding my time, until I eventually fall asleep. When I open my eyes again, the sun is up, but just barely, dim light just enough to see by. I seem to be in a room somewhere, but where? Where am I? What’s the last thing I remember? The Burmese, of course! But there are no Burmese here. I’m in a bed, somebody’s bed. Oh, right—my bed. But I can’t move. I seem to be severely tangled up in—sheets. I can fix that, but I still can’t move. Oh, right—the accident…

    Weird dream. No, I don’t need a prophet to interpret this dream for me. I understand it quite well, I believe. The bed is our prison, scene of many trials, many triumphs, and much turmoil—inner and outer. The nightmare is the sum of our worst fears, all gathered together to suppress oppress and repress us with false narratives. Enlightenment is the door outside, just begging to be opened, not knowing what lies on the other side, and not knowing if it’s even possible…

    I’ve been in this bed now for almost a month and it still doesn’t get any better—until I can get up, and out, if then, I hope. I won’t know until I get there. Such is life. But I’m betting that it is. And I’m betting that it’s just like I remember it, from before, or at least very similar, since nothing is ever quite the same as we remember it, whether in fact, or in fiction. But I know I’ll have to try for it. To stay in this bed is unthinkable. I was born here, and I’ll die here, but to live my entire life here is not my best option, I truly believe…

    To submit to less than I am capable of is not the best use of resources, for myself, or others, though I should certainly be prepared, and be capable, of doing just that. After all, I may not be able to walk again regardless, no matter how hard I try. Stranger things have happened. Wheelchairs sell briskly. So I need to be prepared, and I need to bide my time…

    To accept circumstances stoically is the small path of Buddhism. To overcome them is the greater path. But I realize now that the door outside is not the path to Enlightenment at all—the door inside is. The door outside is the great unknown. And to assume that I know what is there is an article of faith, and knowledge, however reliable my information may or may not be…

    I don’t like the terms Mahayana and Hinayana, though they do make an important point, which is NOT that my vehicle is bigger than yours, but that one path is wider, and longer, and more fraught with difficulties and risks. The narrow path is safer and more certain, and more defined, if less exciting…

    But that’s not a happy ending to the story, because there is no happy ending to the story, just surviving, and hopefully thriving, no matter how meek the circumstances. A wry little smile of provisional victory should suffice. Any more would be human hubris. There is no reason to be proud of ourselves, because there is no self, not really, only circumstances, and prior conditions, and will and knowledge and power, the power of truth…

     

    So the Burmese didn’t come back the next night: but the Cambodians did, and their tactics were milder, and more conducive, and more endearing, and more receptive. So I guess it’s no surprise that they were more successful. How do I know that? Because that’s where I am right now, still seeking Enlightenment, still test-driving small vehicles, and large ones, on narrow paths, and wide ones, with multiple payment options, in several familiar currencies…

     

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 3:23 pm on February 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      I really like the way story and philosophy blend here, with blurred edges … A wry little smile of provisional victory should suffice. Nice line, in a very inclusive and compelling piece.

      • hardie karges 6:39 pm on February 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Thx, Dave, wish I could make true life stories into a paradigm, but that requires a life of non-stop drama, hmmm…

  • hardie karges 7:48 am on January 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , EckfardtbTolle, , , koan, , , , reification, , Thai Forest Tradition, Thich Nhat Hanh, 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 8:47 am on January 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , past life, ,   

    Buddhism, and the Power of (Positive) Thinking… 

    IMG_0599I live in a world of opposites, sometimes Amerika, sometimes Asia, sometimes elsewhere, according to taste, according to style, sometimes necessity. On the surface the two places might not seem much different, shopping malls out the yin or shopping malls out the yang, just now taking over Asia, same time old hat in Amerika, just shut the door on your way out…

    …but deeper down, they’re almost exactly opposite. This is more than just happenstance or circumstance, but dyed in the woof, warped in the weft. I’m talking about the sutras, of course, sutures holding together lives, stitches in time saving nine, literally the sayings of the Buddha offering recipes for life in narrative form made simple for mass consumption… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:35 am on January 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: belief system, , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism: Religion, Philosophy, or…? 

    img_1931Some people say Buddhism is not really a religion, though I know some monks who would beg to differ. Here’s what my dictionary says about religion:

    1. the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. 2. a particular system of faith and worship. 3. a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion.

    Well, the first definition certainly does not fit Buddhism, since there is no all-powerful superman waiting to part the waters, and the second only fits if we define what Buddhists do as worship—so maybe. The third one is frivolous, in the sense that ‘consumerism is the new religion’, but maybe somewhat accurate, especially in the case of ever-trendy Amerika, where Buddhism is currently a hot topic, but where much, if not most, of the information disseminated about it, is limited, or misapplied, or downright inaccurate… (More …)

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 2:57 pm on January 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      I like the resonance between ‘unattainable’ and ‘aim-able’ – the whole piece is down-to-earth and easy to relate to. Science, according to the guy who wrote The Golden Bough, superseded Magic because both offer ways of influencing the world – where Religion asks for the intercession of higher forces. Not sure where Buddhism fits in to that, suppose it depends which variety one goes for …

    • hardie karges 7:51 pm on January 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      “Before Joseph Campbell became the world’s most famous practitioner of comparative mythology, there was Sir James George Frazer…(and) The Golden Bough”, been on my ‘to-read’ list for 50 years, maybe I should do that now as part of some MA research, thx, Dave. No, there need be no disputes between Science and Buddhism, or any religion, for that matter IMHO. I don’t want to have to make a choice… and that is the great challenge, to make those details fit. It won’t be easy, but I do think that Buddhism has the ability to do it, what with its flexible doctrine, if it only has the will to do it. Predestination is attractive–and easy, just not a defensible position for me…

    • Terborn Zult 2:57 pm on January 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Not bad; the progression from religion(s) to one or several non-religious belief systems is already a step in the right direction, because it allows the “believer” to be in favor of certain principles without having to submit to some entity that is supposed to be somehow intrinsically “higher” than humans or human thinking. So, it’s a step away from mental slavery. If this step is done seriously and systematically, it not only leads to kicking out all superstition, but also to seeing the simple fact that, after all, non-religious ethical “belief” boils down to nothing more than having a certain preference for some principles and guidelines over others. With no mysticism needed to “justify” those principles and guidelines.

      However, care needs to be taken to avoid religious mysticism’s sneaking back in through the backdoor. Any assorted principles and guidelines adorned with a halo of absolute value or truth would risk becoming a new religion, as any claim of absoluteness is a sure-fire indicator of creeping religification and transformation into a new mysticism.

      Already during the 19th century, then during the first few post-WWII decades, there was a danger of religification of science in the mind of the general (non-scientific) public, frequently promoted by preposterous “science” journalists and other (usually financial) wannabe profiteers from scientific success. Whereas all serious science is a completely relative enterprise, with no fix points being fixed eternally.

      In other words, after the downfall of open and direct religion, it is necessary to oppose covert and indirect religion, i.e., all forms of religification, be they applied to scientific methods and results, philosophical considerations, cultural, political, economic or ecologic theories and principles, moral principles, or whatever. Sooner or later, any re-religification would result in fresh mental slavery – by sliding the “believer” back to “self-imposed immaturity” (see I. Kant: “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity’). Of course, reading and analyzing religious texts and traditions with a critical mind is neither religion nor mysticism; nor is the extraction of inspirations from those.

      Since the word “belief” is still tainted by its religious past, it would be preferable to use a different word for all forms of non-religious “belief”. Something like “conviction”, “convincement”, “opinion”, “paradigm” or so would be less ambiguous, because none of these should invoke submission to anything other than critical human reasoning. Because the latter is the most fundamental baseline of all attempts to understand “why are we here? Where did we come from? What do we do now?” – if that’s really the goal (as pointed out in the post above). The rest is history.

      • hardie karges 3:12 am on January 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        We’re pretty much on the same page then. Yes, I would like to see Buddhism get rid of all superstitions and irrational ‘beliefs’, especially since that was one of the great selling points 2500 years ago, back when the Hindus were still sacrificing animals. Rebirth is the tough one, for some reason. It seems people are very attached to their past and future lives. Being diplomatic about it, I plead ignorant, and agnostic, in order to promote ‘this life’ Buddhism. Thanks for your comments.

  • hardie karges 6:56 am on January 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , monk, monkhood, , ,   

    Buddhism ME 6909: Renunciation is a transitive verb–sometimes… 

    img_0953There’s nothing cuter in Thailand than a picture of a young child bowing in obeisance, before a statue of the Buddha, grahping and saddhuing with the best of them, prostrate to unknown gods, long before his little prostate gland would even know the difference, that which supplies the raw materials for reproduction, but to a young infertile mind that yet has no clue to such things…

    Now I firmly encourage respect and reverence to monks and priests and the qualities they represent, but joining the monkhood at an early age, or even growing up at the temple, and, in effect, never knowing any other life, is another thing. I mean: is that really so impressive—and wise? Doesn’t renunciation really only have its true meaning when something is actually renounced? Now, when a millionaire gives up his millions to join the sangha—that’s impressive… (More …)

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 5:06 pm on January 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Hi. Hardie, long time no speak! Been taking a little winter sabbatical from the blogosphere – viewing it, anyhow – to catch up on some offline reading. This strikes your customary balance, with all sides examined and a careful conclusion reached. I think your considered stance is sensible and persuasive in the modern world. As Rimbaud said, it is necessary to be absolutely modern …

    • hardie karges 5:18 pm on January 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Hey, Dave, good to chat, been wrapped up in my own college/monastery duties for months myself, now freer a bit to wander. I just wish DT would leave the scene, so that I can write about happy things again, ha! Thanx for comments, I persevere…

  • hardie karges 7:06 am on January 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2018, , , , , , , ,   

    Religion, Politics, Hope and a Prayer: Happy 2018, Good Riddance 2017… 

    img_1572

    The Golden Spires of Shwedagon Pagoda

    If you’re American, and you’re reading this, then 2017 has probably been a very tough year for you, as it has been for me, for this is the year in which we’ve seen our beloved country rocked to its foundations, for no particular reason, other than the general hatred, prejudice, rudeness, crudeness and bad judgment of our barely-elected President, by a distinct minority, due to the anomalies of our Electoral College system, in which our state lines themselves represent a form of gerrymandering that makes a mockery of democracy…

    But that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that as our world grows more crowded, our sensibilities seem to be growing harder and colder, with people feeling less and less toward each other, and governments even worse. The Fall of the (Berlin) Wall in 1989, and USSR in 1991 was supposed to usher in a new era of freedom and responsibility, and instead it has ushered in an era of unparalleled greed and hatred… (More …)

     
    • Terborn Zult 3:19 am on January 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      If “with Communism no longer around to keep Capitalism honest, then Capitalism no longer is (honest),” the question is: how come Buddhism, which has been around for much longer than so-called “communism” (in reality: just the first stages of socialism; and a pretty adulterated version of socialism, for that matter), has never managed to keep capitalism honest, not even for a few decades? If I had the choice, I would most certainly opt for the more efficient -ism….

      • hardie karges 3:46 am on January 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        I don’t think it’s ever tried, TBH, since it is not an economic system at all, two entirely different realms, truthfully, such that no matter how much I detest Trump, for instance, I would never suggest that Trump supporters can’t be Buddhists–some are, in fact. Theravada systems are extremely (non) self-oriented, in fact, such that the paradigm is that of a monk not only renounced, but cloistered, and entirely dependent on lay support. I’m moving more in the direction of Mahayana, if not entirely secular, which is much more world-oriented. There is no reason why socialism and Buddhism can’t occur together, really, which is my dream, and certainly much more inspiring, for me at least, than Soviet-style communism, and likely the reason it failed: hard-core materialism is just very inspiring for many, if not most, of us. Thx for your comment, Norbert, and happy new year…

  • hardie karges 7:08 am on December 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , dipa, double entendre, , Indo-European, , , , nikaya, , , ,   

    Buddhism 6399, Pali 201: Double Entendres, Double Intentions? Or not… 

    img_2116Evam vadi: “Therefore, O Ananda, be ye lamps unto yourselves. Rely on yourselves, and do not rely on external help. Hold fast to the truth as a lamp. Seek salvation alone in the truth. Look not for assistance to any one besides yourselves.”

    So said the Buddha on his death bed, in his final instructions to the sangha, the Buddhist community, his followers. There’s only one problem, or question, or issue, if you prefer: the Pali word dipa can mean ‘lamp’ or (drum roll here, please)–‘island’. In fact ‘island’ is probably the more frequent translation, given the prominence in Buddhism of that most famous of dipas—Sri Lanka…

    (It does NOT mean ‘light’, not really, as often translated in the statement above, ‘light’ in the sense of that abstract quasi-dimensional entity which has a speed of 186,000mi/300,000km per second and serves as the upper limit of our human-ness, and therefore somewhat defining our status as physical, i.e. not totally spiritual, beings, in a material world, however sentient and well-intentioned)… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:22 am on December 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Buddhism in the End Times: Perfecting the Path of Imperfection… 

    IMG_2290Buddhism is the path of (ego) imperfection, the path of (ego) weakness, strength in numbers, especially zero, simultaneous voidness and infinity, emptiness implying that something is lacking, hopefully, that we are not hard cold single solitary free-standing proper nouns, but warm flexible adjectives, forever ready to be pressed into service to support the demands of solidity, wherever needed and as called for…

    Deepak and Eckhart and Pat and Jerry and all the other latter-day wannabe prophets and modern-day motivational messengers all have one thing in common: they’re fudging: the truth, that is. They all tell you that you can do whatever you want, as long as you never stop dreaming, as long as you never give up your passions, as long as you sacrifice all in the quest of fulfilling your vision, and that your potential is unlimited. Yeah, right… (More …)

     
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