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  • hardie karges 6:50 am on November 30, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cyanobacteria, ,   

    The Reasoning for the Seasoning 

    If Thanksgiving gluttony is misplaced, then Black Friday is disgusting. It was nice to hear a friend opine that we don’t need more feasting; we need fasting. I couldn’t agree more. You don’t celebrate abundance with gluttony. Circumstances have changed much since those days way back then when the main challenge in life for the average bloke and his little family was keeping bellies fed. Calorie problem? Yeah, right—getting enough of them. I suspect there’d be no little astonishment at our modern-day battles with belt-lines.

    But that’s not the problem. The problem is that we’re so fat and sassy with our farm-fed turkeys and our swipe-screen smart phones that we’re losing touch with the natural world and the need for struggle—yes, struggle. When Jesus said that rich people would have the hardest time getting to Heaven (however that’s defined), he wasn’t joking, like some modern apologists would like to suggest.

    That struggle for existence, against all odds, can be spiritually satisfying. That extra helping of cake is not. Gluttony and spirituality are mutually incompatible. When William James talked about the ‘moral equivalent of war’ he was referring mostly to the positive aspects of the ‘greater goods’ involved in that activity, would that only the negative aspects could be avoided. That is suggested in the modern mantra to “live every day as if it were your last,” though few consider the wider consequences, I suspect.

    We spend beaucoups de bucks trying to find life on other planets, and in some sort of misplaced humility masking our gods of materialism, we just assume that sooner or later they will be found, not just cyanobacteria, but Zhou Blou speaking a dialect that we’ll soon master if only we run it through the right program for analysis. Ever wonder what the odds of intelligent life on this planet are? That’s probably the more important question, the answer to which I wouldn’t really want to risk.

    I suspect given the exact same climatic conditions that now prevail on the planet earth, and starting from scratch, the odds of human life occurring are vanishingly small. And I doubt that the odds of any mammal or reptile or other advanced form of life are almost as high. It took a billion—A BILLION—years or so to move from single to multi-celled organisms, without even considering the larger question of what kick-started that single-cell blue-green algae into existence in the first place. BTW comets don’t change anything; the question of what when where and how life began still lingers.

    The example of the priest who went homeless recently for two weeks just to empathize with ‘those people’ is instructive. You’d likely feel lightened and enlightened in the process. My stint as a migrant fruit-picker as a twenty-year-old still rates as one of the highlights of my life, and not because it was hip or cool or otherwise exemplary. It wasn’t. It was real. I slept in a few parks in the process, too, not to mention pickers’ cabins. That was 1974. Ten years later you wouldn’t catch a self-respecting white boy out there, by then beyond all that. Thus hippies are in line to inherit the earth, they and indigenous peoples.

    Now here we are in 2014, thankful for our toys, but not much else. Oh sure we pay lip service to family and friends, but not much of even that to Mother Nature, the nimble nymph that we’ve turned into our own private whore. To whatever extent the original Thanksgiving traditions are accurate, I think they exhibit a reverence for Nature, any and all gods welcomed. That is a tradition we should revive.

    But Nature is not always right: witness the snowball our planet was a short 700 million years ago. Humans probably could have dealt with that. There is nothing ultimately wrong with second-guessing Nature, or even manipulating it, as long as it’s done mindfully, not simply for the love of cheap thrills. Buddha, Muhammad, and Jesus were not always right, either. Matthew 6-26:

    “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”

    Actually that’s about all I see birds doing, but there’s still no need to worry excessively, which was the point of the speech. When you personally spend the time in harvest, you will not likely take it for granted. That’s food for thought—Happy Holidays!

  • hardie karges 5:11 am on November 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas   

    Why Christians Need Buddhism—and Islam 

    We’re the love monkeys we’re the hate monkeys, we’re the f*ck monkeys we’re the abstention monkeys, we’re the drunk monkeys we’re the sober monkeys, we’re the selfish monkeys we’re the caring monkeys, we’re the active monkeys we’re the passive monkeys, we’re the hot monkeys we’re the cool monkeys, we’re the species that desperately needs some law and order to make sense of it all—or maybe just some Buddhist wisdom or some Muslim discipline.

    There are just too many contradictions to being human to leave it all to chance. We need some direction. We Westerners, Americans in particular, love to feel superior about our upbringing and traditions, but what works for us—or not—doesn’t necessarily work for anyone else. We hold up democracy, capitalism, and Christianity like the great trinity that all should follow, or else, lest they should suffer the consequences of their own ignorance. This is unfortunate. This is chaos.

    There are limits to love, even Christian love. Christianity elevates the reproductive act to the paradigm for life, as if everything should match that intensity and bliss, Protestants favoring the foreplay, while Catholics just settle for more babies. Our passion should rule our lives, so goes the theory, no need for wisdom, little need for discipline. Welcome to the 21st century. Welcome to the Apocalypse. I hope it’s not too late.

    Live in the moment” is the great mantra of the age, sounding all Buddhist and enlightened, but coming off and being carried out more like carpe diem—seize the day—in Roman fashion, drunk and in love, giving no thought to the morrow. This is not Buddhist mindfulness—i.e. awareness. This is Western recklessness—wreckfulness. Christian pop culture seconds the emotion by elevating Roman romantic love above Greek agape—brotherly love—which is closer to the true Christian meaning.

    The Church’s founding fathers quickly realized the limits of love, and Saint Augustine mixed in as much of Plato as any epistle to any apostle would allow, just like St. Thomas later did with Aristotle, trying to match content with form, rationality with emotion. That’s a nice try, but still not enough. The Age of Reason was no match for the Age of Capitalism and the doctrine of democracy and their Christian handmaidens, and the resulting chaos which would follow, which has brought us to the brink of catastrophe. We’re not facing extinction because of anything Buddhists or Muslims have done wrong.

    This is why the world needs Buddhism. This is why we need Islam. God takes over where Science leaves off, just as intuition takes over where logic fails. We don’t need more doctrines and dogmas. We need cool heads and warm hearts, common sense and discipline. Our love of money is leading us to a no-man’s-land of self-imposed doom, an air-conditioned nightmare as we drive over the cliff, pedal to the metal, and the seat-belts unfastened. May God’s love be with us—if He exists. May Buddhist wisdom and Islamic discipline be with us regardless.

    • Kc 10:57 am on November 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Semantics, literalism, God, a he? If you don’t believe in anything but darkness, what is there to lose?

      • hardie karges 4:28 pm on November 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        They call God a ‘He’; I don’t… Come over to the light whenever you like…

  • hardie karges 11:36 am on November 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    THEORIES OF EVUH’ THANG (I f***ing love philosophy) 

    Yes, I sometimes poke fun at those wannabe scientists who claim to ‘f*cking love’ it, but who usually know little or nothing about it, just enough to act superior to die-hard Biblical Creationists, easy enough for sure, but who usually settle for an ad hoc poorly-thought-out scantily-clad pseudo-sci-fi proudly-proclaimed atheism-cum-religion, accent on the cum, that frequently involves tweaking the meds just right, usually strong enough to strip the polish off my spit-shined hiking boots, caffeine my drug of choice, just sayin’…

    It’s not that I don’t love science; I do. I just never knew what it had to do with my sex drive, or lack thereof. Wait a minute; oh, right. Anyway it’s nice to have two movies featuring Big Science up on the movie screens at the same time, which gives us four physicists, instead of the usual two, in the public spotlight, Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne added to the usual one-two punch of Michio Kaku and Neil deGrasse Tyson, (and then there’s that guy with the big smile, from San Francisco, I think).  Bizniz is good, I guess.

    There was a time when philosophy and physics were the same activity—thinking, observing, analyzing, deducing—but that’s been a while, sometime after Descartes and before Wittgenstein, I guess, Russell and Whitehead being something of a last gasp at reconciling at least the math (abstract) side of science with the logical (concrete) side of philosophy. They are much the same thing, after all, notwithstanding Hawking’s diss of philosophers’ math skills; guess he never read Leibniz.

    But when science loses its connection to common language, it just may be getting off on an irresponsible tangent. Or maybe I’m being pessimistic. I mean, it would be nice if Science could save us and the planet, as suggested in ‘Interstellar’, but if that depends on ‘worm-holes’, then I’d maybe prefer some more Green Science here on Earth, instead. Theoretical physics is nice, but just that—theoretical; and as often as not, a mathematical convenience, best explained by the dictum, “it works.” End of story…NOT.  Wormhole that.

    Quantum mechanics is so foreign to common sense that relativity is considered ‘classical’. It works, but we have little possibility of imagining it. Relativity can be visualized; Einstein did. Curved space? No problem. But faster-than-light tachyons that can only slow down to light speed…maybe? Meh—better keep that day job, just in case. But Einstein’s failure to embrace quantum mechanics, partly his creation, may still suggest some problems with the theory, not just with Einstein, the old fuddy-duddy.

    One of Einstein’s lesser-heralded (but most accepted) ideas (can’t remember the name) was that the laws of physics operate the same any time all the time anywhere everywhere in the universe. Sounds simple, and I don’t think it’s ever really been questioned, but what if it’s not true? What if we’re in a little isolated pocket of the universe (or consciousness) where things do not operate normally? And no, we don’t need God for this, though any and all help is welcome, haha.

    Let’s say for example that our world is something of a ‘construction zone, observe posted speeds (double fines in effect), etc.’ In other words, what if the observable universe has flows and eddies (or IS such; and no, not the classic rock duo), ‘slow lanes’ so to speak, in which things happen at less than the speed of light, which would seem to be the norm for this dimension, or at least the next (observable) one, and which might define spirituality as well as light and electricity. That just might give you frequencies that you can touch. Sound familiar?

    It sounds feasible, doesn’t it, that Nature—and Reality—might operate at differing levels of efficiency? If we know that, then we can account for it as an anomaly… unless we’re in the middle of the anomaly. Then everything else seems weird and unexplainable, e.g. the universe expands at ever increasing speeds. The Big Bang. Gravity. Physicality. Stuff. Weird. Welcome to the slow cool world. Such is life—in time, and space…

    But what if reality is essentially spiritual, composed of waves that act like particles (hehe) and particles that act like waves (oops), a transcendental stew of light and electricity—and us—all swirling and whirling and hitting the road at the speed of light, we know not where? Now I’m no scientist by trade, but I’m betting that if spirituality is the answer you want, then the questions you ask become simpler. Or not. Just a thought. Welcome to my lumpy gravy theory of the universe. I’m hungry.

    (Einstein, Jesus and Plato are probably my favorite thinkers of all time, BTW, one’s thought experiments, the other’s parables and the latter’s dialogs equivalent in my mind to the finest things that a human mind is capable of–smartphone optional)

  • hardie karges 6:17 pm on November 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Buddhism 101: All Life is suffering—ouch! 

    Decaying Buddhas at Sculptor's Home, Norfolk, UK (1980s)

    All Life is suffering. That’s the First Truth of Buddhism, of course, and as far as many people get in their study of Buddhism, with comments like, “That sounds so negative;” or maybe, “Doesn’t sound like much fun.” Such is life, though, life after childhood, at least, when the realities kick in, and it’s time to get a job—ooh, double ouch!

    The Second Truth doesn’t help much: the cause of suffering is desire. Yeow! I always thought Buddhists were cool, and had more fun than this. The Third Truth follows pretty logically: to remove the suffering, add water and allow to cool, i.e. remove the desire. Duh. For anyone still interested in something a little deeper than such simplistic action and reaction, there’s a Fourth Truth, the Middle Way, the avoidance of extremes. If you need that spelled out for you, there’s even an Eight-fold Path—very handy.

    The big boys of Buddhism, Inc. realize that that’s not the best business model, of course, not for fun-loving Americans, anyway, so furiously back-pedal the ‘suffering’ rap, dukkha in Sanskit, going on for hours about how Buddha he no speakee Engrish, and how translations are inadequate, and how he really didn’t mean ‘suffering’ as such. Ahem. Yes, he did. He meant exactly that. Saying he didn’t is like saying that Jesus wasn’t talking about rich people having difficulty getting to heaven. Yes, he was. (More …)

    • Esther Fabbricante 5:36 pm on November 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t understand Buddhism at all –

  • hardie karges 11:27 am on November 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , possession,   

    Buddhism 101: ‘Letting Go’, and all that jazz 

    One of the Buddha quotes currently making frequent rounds on Facebook these days goes something like (I’m paraphrasing, since my Pali is a little rusty anyway): ‘…the important thing in life…is how well you let go’…

    Let’s assume for the sake of discussion that that quote is accurate and correct, if not entirely complete nor definitive. Now that’s interesting, because I’d always credited Buddhism (from Hindu precedents) as advocating ‘non-possession’. But ‘letting go’ is not ‘non-possession.’ ‘Letting go’ implies that there was previous possession, and that’s an important point. I think I was wrong all these years. (More …)

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