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  • hardie karges 7:51 am on March 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bible, , homelessness, , ,   

    Buddhism and Christianity: Homelessness as Renunciation? 

    IMG_2234Despite the quick conclusions of some Western sympathizers, there is nothing more opposed in this world than the modern doctrines of Buddhism and Christianity. Sure they both want you to be good and do good, but beyond that the ways and means are almost exactly the opposite. Christianity plays offense. Buddhism plays defense. Christianity is a religion of action. Buddhism is a religion of renunciation. Christianity is a religion of passion. Buddhism is a religion of dis-passion…

    Originally, though, that word ‘passion’, in Latin, meant ‘suffering’, and so at that point, they indeed did have something in common, the bond of suffering, and the bond of enlightened transcendence, through the experience, and hopefully release, from suffering. Since then, they’ve largely gone separate ways, through the vagaries of circumstance, cultural and otherwise. So that today, the Western Christian ideal would be to achieve eternal life, this life. The Buddhist ideal is to escape ‘the wheel’ entirely… (More …)

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  • hardie karges 4:04 pm on March 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , millennials,   

    #Buddhism and #Politics, in Defense of post-Millennials: 

    img_1987Yes, this is a dimension of suffering, more than the sum of your life, more than the breadth of this world, an entire dimension, or two, length width depth time and biology chemistry physics, at the very least, all conspiring to keep you within limits, physical limits, by a margin of maybe 51 to 49, you’re doomed, to a life sentence, paragraph, chapter and verse, complete with death, guaranteed, and there’s not much you can do about that, no matter what some sweet-talking New Age guru with his most articulate drugstore Buddhism tells you…

    And then there are the joys, too, to be fair, to be honest, the joys of family, and communion, and art and culture and sex and first love, but still there will be last rites, and that is the point, and the Buddha knew that, fully and well, he not some party-pooper intent on spoiling the fun, just quite aware that for every count of fun there would be two of misery, in some cause-effect relationship, you can plot it on a graph, and call it the Four Aryan Truths, if you want, to be mitigated by the Eight-Part Path (please do not fold), which will not solve all your problems, but it’s a good place to start… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:25 am on February 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, , , , , Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Zen in the Art of Archery   

    Zen and the Art of Non-Cyclic Existence… 

    There have been a plethora of ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of’ books, since the original was published, some seventy years ago now, e.g. ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of Faking It’, ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of Happiness”, ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of Housekeeping’, ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of Living’, and more, but did you know that the original was published in 1948, in German, and with a slight but important difference in the title, so ‘Zen IN the Art of Archery’ (CAPS mine), which seems to actually be a serious discussion of Zen Buddhism, unlike the best-known ‘Zen-and-the-Art-of’ book…

    Which was ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’, of course, which sold a cool 5 Mil, published almost fifty years ago, and apparently has changed many people’s lives, hopefully for the better. I thought it all sounded very interesting way back then, as much for the motorcycles, my early passion, as for the Zen, but my own personal tastes at the time ran more to the Beats and the Existentialists than something that sounded like a slightly sullied Jonathan Livingston Seagull. But I finally got around to it, a year or two ago now (any book I’m seriously interested in, I try to read within 50 years of publication)… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 6:41 am on February 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asanga, , , 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 …)

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

    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… (More …)

     
    • 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, , , , , , , reification, , , , 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: , , , ,   

    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…

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