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  • hardie karges 3:17 am on January 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Religion 401: Beyond Ficciones and Supersticiones… 


    The Golden Spires of Shwedagon Pagoda

    I’m Karges, not Borges, and this is Burma not Buenos Aires, so there is no time for fiction and it’s time for an end to silly superstitions, the Christian war God and 7-day creation, immaculate conception and messy ascension, hung out to dry on crosses and clotheslines, left to die in caves and blind alleys, rescued by pregnant virgins and holy whores with hearts of gold and the greatest stories ever told…

    But Islam takes holy virgins to new heights, and new depths, heaven and more, from 72 houris (hoors), with varying degrees of “lush full rounded breasts” and more. The best part: the lot of them only need one man, the double standard enshrined into canonical law! We always knew 100 women only need one man to reproduce the species!

    Then there’s this:

    Al-Suyuti. Al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Qur’an. p. 351. Each time we sleep with a Houri we find her virgin. Besides, the penis of the Elected never softens. The erection is eternal; the sensation that you feel each time you make love is utterly delicious and out of this world and were you to experience it in this world you would faint. Each chosen one will marry seventy [sic] houris, besides the women he married on earth, and all will have appetizing vaginas. 

    (space left intentionally blank)

    Okay, I’m back now, and feeling surprisingly refreshed. Then there is the prohibition on pork, which for many Muslims—and Jews—is the line that defines them. I know Muslims in Thailand that drink like fish, but won’t touch pork! Now we all know what pigs eat, and that’s not clean, unless they’re properly raised and fed. But to base a religion on porkly abstinence is absurd—unless all meat is being disallowed…

    The superstitions and little white lies of Christianity and Islam are not unique to the Abrahamic religions (including Judaism, of course), but are easily found in the religions founded in the Indian sub-continent including the world’s third-largest religion (atheism doesn’t count): Hinduism, arguably the worst on this list, with a list of superstitions that would make a Christian blush, including multiple gods, reincarnation, past lives, karma and a caste system to boot. Ouch!

    Buddhism corrected many of those logical inconsistencies, at least temporarily, until the advent of Mahayana Buddhism pretty much let anybody and everybody in, much like Catholicism in the West, so in came all the old superstitions—except the caste system, which is the logical consequence of karma-laden reincarnations. The Tibetans even postulated multiple realms for all the past and future lives of which they are so enamored…

    I guess Tibetans are not into space, up there in the cold winters of their remote mountain fastnesses. They’re into time—makes sense! I think I’ll pass on the ‘hungry ghost’ realm, though—sounds creepy. On second thought, I’ll pass on much of it. Mahayana Buddhism recovered some of its original inspiration by the time it passed through China and reached Japan, but even there, you’re supposed to achieve enlightenment almost magically by the realizations that arise from the linguistic conundrums that arise from unsolvable riddles…

    But there is more to life than language—I hear. Everybody loves predestination and conspiracy theory, ’cause it’s easy, it’s lazy, it’s neat, and it’s convenient—but it’s almost certainly wrong. There is just no evidence—scientific or otherwise—to support it. Karmic retribution serves the same purpose in primitive Buddhism that Hell does in Christianity—enforcement of the moral code with threat of future punishment…

    Enough already: let’s grow up and leave the child psychology behind! Theravada Buddhism has some of that, too, just not so enshrined in the canon. I really don’t think Siddhartha Gautama the Awakened One spent his life searching for answers, only to come up with something akin to Hinduism for non-Indians, or worse: Hindu Lite. No, he almost certainly intended to leave most of it behind—except meditation…

    The Dalai Lama opines that Science isn’t likely to disprove past lives, but: Hello, Dalai, ever heard of DNA? Many prisoners have gotten out of prison that way, and many just might leave religion, too, if it can do no better. Science has superstitions, too, of course, absolute materialism and pharmacological hubris, so no wonder we’re a nation of drug addicts and war whores, but it doesn’t have to be that way…

    Science is still the most obvious way out of superstitions, with DNA, carbon-14 dating, fingerprints and toe-prints to boot, so maybe Tibetans can leave their past lives and karmic retribution behind, move toward something like Reincarnation—in the Spirit, like a Christian ‘born again’, figuratively but not literally…

    Then more than a few Buddhists get obsessed with which direction to circumnavigate a stupa, without questioning whether the whole activity might not just be a littlt bit ‘stupa’d’ itself, if you stop to think about it. If this is what constitutes a religion, then atheists are probably right…

    Same with removing shoes. As with the aforementioned pigs and their sh*t, certain prohibitions made much sense millennia ago, just as a matter of good health. But religion, i.e. a belief system, should be more than that, at least in this day and age. We have vacuum cleaners…

    But the thoroughly modern Christian will say “Love is our belief system,” except that love from above, victors over vanquished, is not the same as the religious magnanimous type. And Muslims will say, “Our jihad is not with swords and the words of war, but in our hearts against the evil thoughts that haunt us. You should try meditation…

    And Hindus will finger their prayer beads and Buddhists will wrap their necks in charms and fetishes. And there’s nothing wrong with any of this, just that it’s not necessary and it cheapens the cause of religion in the eyes of atheists, agnostics and even some scientists. Religion can do better than the analogies and metaphors of bygone eras. And it can do better than the ‘no-thought’ reliance on writ, whether Christian, Muslim, Theravada or Mahayana…




  • hardie karges 8:47 am on January 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Terence McKenna   

    Buddhist Dharma Chat: Looking for Something… 

    img_1670You’ve heard it all before: “Like looking for a needle in a haystack. Don’t cry over spilled milk.” Etcetera etcetera. And then there’s the Buddha’s most famous saying: “Let that sh*t go.” Yuk yuk. Of course the Buddha didn’t really say that, but it can be inferred. Many things are inferred in the name of the Buddha, but some probably miss the mark. The Facebook page ‘Buddhist Wisdom’ just changed their name to ‘Healing Humanity’. Huh? How do you spell m-a-r-k-e-t-i-n-g?

    The Buddha himself was not infallible, either, of course, as a human, but his paradigm and his belief system was and is powerful, so that’s what has meaning to me. Buddha’s Big Deal was, in a nutshell, the recognition of the prevalence of suffering, and the means to avoid it via the middle path, mediating extremes and doing good, and especially—don’t do bad…

    Everything else, whether karma, past lives, rebirth, samsara, shunyata, anatta, anicca or whatever else are all sorta-maybe-kinda-almost-you know-like a-more or less-don’t-bug-me-I’m-meditating. No, Buddha was not about renunciation of all things all the time. He was all about renunciation of the wrong things at the right time… (More …)

  • hardie karges 7:42 am on January 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply

    Wanna be Buddhist? First Do No Harm, then STFU… 


    …because if you’re Western-oriented, especially, then you almost certainly talk too much, are far too opinionated, and may even think too much in general. And I won’t tell you to follow your bliss here, because your bliss is likely BS. But you can follow the Five Precepts, and if that’s not enough, then follow the Eight Precepts. And your opinions are probably far too passionate and much too irrational, anyway. So were mine, until I realized it was mostly fantasy…

    Yes, kindness and compassion come first, and are the watchwords and catch-phrases of popular Buddhism, easily remembered and easily understood, if not so easy to practice, a constant vigilance necessary to ensure that no harm is done to any living thing, even at the risk of harm indeed being done to ones own self, which is really a non-self in the Buddhist principle of non-substantiality… (More …)

  • hardie karges 4:06 pm on January 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2016,   

    R.I.P. 2016: Not-so-Simple Prayer for a Year of Upheaval and Colic, and Buddhist redemption… 

    img_1111…in a decade of displacement, in a century of subterfuge, in a brand new millennium of change and misfortune. These are the times that try men’s souls, if only we had souls and if only we had time, this in a world with limited space, but all the time in the world, or so they say. They say lots of sh*t, of course, but they just may have this one right. No one claims to have all the space in the world…

    We live at the crossroads of time-lines and space-lines, defined by a moment and imagined as an eternity. After all, how do we really know that yesterday really existed and that tomorrow ever will? The waiting is the hardest part, of course. Every year is a little lifetime, defined on each end by celebrations of our suffering and humble Thanksgiving for our inheritance, wealth beyond description and complacency beyond comparison. Whatever has been born will also die, by definition… (More …)

    • davekingsbury 2:59 pm on January 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Amen to this:

      “Politics will always be about power, its distribution, and to the victor the spoils. I’m more interested in personal freedom, the ability to endure, and the ability to adapt, the ability to migrate, and the ability to create, until the meek can rightfully inherit the earth under feet and the sky overhead.”

  • hardie karges 4:47 pm on January 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Thai Buddhism Outback Up North, part 4: Three Questions, Two Uncertainties, a Wish and a Promise… 

    Continued from here

    Kwan Yin Fest near Chiang Dao, Thailand

    Kwan Yin Fest near Chiang Dao, Thailand

    So again I’m having doubts about my direction, after I’d convinced myself that the past lives and karmic retribution of Tibetan Buddhism, which I can’t support, are not an issue in the Theravada system. I guess I should get all Zen-like and mock Kung Fu-ish right about now with something wise and philosophical from my imaginary guru, like maybe: “Cricket, don’t worry about the details, or you’ll never be a good monk anyway. You have a path now, and the path will lead you where you are to go…”

    Yeah, that sounds about right. There is no turning back from this path, this Buddhist path, however the details play out. My increasingly healthy meditation practice will be the proof and the foundation for that. So what if I occasionally flash back on the Playboy Playmate from December 1969? She was cute, it was cold, and I was young. I’ve still got a Suzi Quatro song stuck in there from 1978, too…

    And so what if I look like a pile of lumber spilled from the Home Depot truck until I get ‘warmed up’ meditating? So what if it takes a backhoe to unlock and untangle me once I do? At least that backhoe won’t be necessary to back-fill the logic necessary to convince myself I’m happy when I’m really not, gorging myself with ‘stuff’ in an American society of consumeristic orgy (orgiastic consumerism?)… (More …)

    • kc 10:37 pm on January 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      join the clubs, forming in the hundreds of like minded people. Millsaps is offering a course to re-guide one to one’s what, emptiness? Also have on-line far away friends wanting to skype and study. remember that teaching is indeed a most noble profession, and certainly learning never ends. looking for folk art, found $ in my account that i did not expect and not wanting to try and teach r more tech. that he will not get. so art, yes. send art, $ cd not hurt, you can always give it away, i surely do. much love.

    • davekingsbury 1:28 pm on January 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Reminds me in part of the Keats bio by Andrew Motion I’m reading – 600 pages for such a short life! – and it’s fascinating to follow his discovery that pain and pleasure/sadness and happiness are really one and the same or at least 2 sides of the same coin, no one without the other. I’m trying to feel the same about life/death but not there yet!

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