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  • hardie karges 12:36 am on October 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, control, , ,   

    Buddhist psychology and the meaning of religion… 

    To control yourself is a Buddhist virtue. To control others is a Communist sin. And this is central to the psychology, if not the precepts, of Buddhism, the act of self-control, much to the horror of many western Buddhists, looking for bliss and passion and a free ticket to Buddha Fest, that this thing that is all the rage, too cool for school, hipper than hip and groovier than most, is really quite the opposite, mostly just sitting and avoiding confrontation, even avoiding the world entirely in the most extreme circumstances, sitting in a cave for twenty years. That’s what rishis do, even to this day. So maybe you’re a good Buddhist and you’ve got your favorite Buddhist monk, either in person or online, reading his every word with admiration and waiting with bated breath to hear just a little more. But did you ever wonder who his culture heroes are? Often it’s these rishis, sitting in caves, such that the snarky phrase ‘contemplating his navel’ takes on new meaning. What’s the point? There is no point, other than liberation, and enlightenment, and freedom from the dictates of drudgery and public opinion. The problem occurs when the virtue of self-control gets twisted into the perverse logic of controlling others, as though this is a logical corollary, when nothing could be further from the truth. So Buddhist countries are some of the least free in the world, presumably because governments know they have a docile populace, and pervert that virtue into a deadly sin. That’s not religion. To see the world as a child is to see it with awe and wonder, open mouth optional, rapture not required. This is religion.

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  • hardie karges 5:08 am on October 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, gurus, , prophets   

    Beware the False Prophets of Buddhism… 

    Beware false prophets and gurus claiming gifts. For they are legion at the end of days, and that’s how you will know that it is the end of days, that teachers will outnumber students, the good ones so that they can impart their gifts, while the clock is still running, the bad ones so that they can fatten their bellies and egos at our expense, because there really is no end to our days, not in one fell swoop, more like a long gradual decline in the service of our own selfish desires. And this is the mark of the most ghastly guru, that he will speak in terms of absolutes and extremes and exactitudes, when Buddhism knows no such thing, but a myriad of vanishing increments, ever changing, such that you might only know the difference if you were to fall asleep for half your life, and then awake to an entirely new world–of appearance. But appearances can be misleading when one moment succeeds to the next with scarcely a distinction between them, the cumulative effect only noticeable when the final calculation is due, and accounts must be settled. This should not be a concern to the average adept and practitioner, since we are not doing what we do–sitting silently–in order to reap the final fruit at the end of the rainbow, for that would be counter-intuitive to the math of our mission and the path of our dispassion. The end result is not the point of engagement; the middle path is an end in itself. Always give up your dreams. Never give up dreaming…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 3:20 pm on October 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I like the way you contrast false certainties with subtler truths, Hardie – that has the ring of experience.

      • hardie karges 4:06 pm on October 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Dave…

  • hardie karges 6:10 am on September 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Buddhism, ,   

    The Simplest Pleasures are Better than the Wildest Bliss… 

    Sometimes the worst of circumstances can yield the best results and the phoenix can rise from the ashes I hope. But this is the relativity of circumstance, again, and the inability to see far when the usual rewards are for immediate consumption. So it’s hard to articulate long-term goals when we can’t even see them. And this is the curse of our fate, I suppose, to be under the social and psychological pressure to ‘go for it’ when we don’t even know what ‘it’ is, much less the route to ‘it’s fulfillment. Thus we are perpetually stuck in the middle, between our desires and reality, by dint of our lack of our view to the future, and the lack of ego-fulfillment for something whose results will only be seen in a far distant world. And the self-proclaimed cognoscenti double down on this dumb-down, logic for the luckless, reduced to ‘this present moment’ for the lack of anything better. But there is something better, whether it’s known or it’s not, and this is the beauty of emptiness and simple foreplay, enjoying the ride when we know not where it goes, only that the ride itself is sublime but not indifferent, and the slower we go the more fulfilling it is. And this is the secret, of course, that contrary to the crush of speed and the big gulp of quick-fix contentment, long-fix containment is really a better option, without even knowing where it all leads, only knowing that the path itself is more proper and fitting. Thus we are handsomely rewarded for our control, more than our wild and crazy lack of it. Self-control is the best of all human qualities, more than passion, more than precision, and the Fifth Noble Truth of Buddhism…

     
  • hardie karges 12:36 am on September 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , jealousy, , , success   

    Special Relativity in a World that looks just like us… 

    Never begrudge anyone their success. In a perfect world their success is your success, and we can all go forward together. Of course this is not a perfect world, but the more we work at it, the more that we can approximate that goal. Spurious social goals of equality and free food for the asking are not only not realistic, but not even desirable, the idea that there exists some sort of equality by jealousy and some sort of bounteous government in place of a bounteous God. But both beliefs are bound to fail, ultimately, that faith in a higher power where such does not exist, at least not in any capacity to bestow favors on the underlings which prop them up, with towering posts of fire-hardened belief, topped with monuments to their sacred erections. Belief carries power in the womb of its sword, details left to imagination. Nothing is too priceless to be left to its word, and the breezes whisper soft incantations. We project ourselves outward on to all empty fields, filling in blanks with our prejudices. We rarely turn inward to question those ills, too content with ourselves as judge and creator. Thus all is relative, multiplication and division merely inverse points of view of the same basic equation, reconfirming mental formations and current status updates. One person’s curse is another person’s blessing, and one person’s sin is another person’s merit. And thus it is with the concept of Buddhist renunciation in a modern materialistic world where merit is typically measured in dollars and cents. Some people take vows of poverty, chastity and homelessness, while others bemoan those same fates…

     
  • hardie karges 5:15 am on September 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , , irrationality   

    Submission to Fear is the Death of the Individual… 

    Worse than a life of fear is a life of willing submission to that fear. Because fear is normal, after all, and can be a valuable survival instinct, especially when you’re swimming in the ocean and the sharks just happen to be biting that day. In other words, fear can save your life. The problem is irrational fear, fear for the sake of fear, fear that has no meaning outside of the singular fact of its existence, disembodied with no antecedents and no outside connections beyond itself. And for many people, this is all too real, that fear becomes a way of life, and acquiescence a way of self-deceit, the belief that certain things are pre-ordained and that certain kings will rule domains regardless of any attempt to limit them. This defeatism thus becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, the idea that nothing can be done, so nothing is worth doing. This was once a stumbling block for me with Buddhism, the perception based on certain SE Asian countries that they were too passive, that they would give up important liberties without even a fight. The problem is self-correcting, though, of course, by Buddhism’s own middle path, neither too passive nor too aggressive being the brilliant compromise. After all, I certainly know of a few Western countries that I wouldn’t care to emulate, whether Christianity is the problem there or not. But many of the judgments are superficial, based on superficial readings of transient situations, white noise that crackles loudly, but means little. Bottom line: many of the world’s problems would be solved if people listened more and talked less, and that is a relative certainty…

     
    • Tim 12:46 am on September 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Too true. I don’t know if you are familiar with Robert Wright’s ‘Why Buddhism is true’. I followed his online e-course, offered by Yale, called Buddhism and Modern Psychology. The term that I fell in love with was ‘catastophization’ (I’m using the American spelling here). Anything and everything becomes ‘catastrophied’ and therefore loses any fundamental meaning beyond its self reference.

      • hardie karges 1:10 am on September 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        Catastrophization? I like that term. Yes, gradually I’m learning what the term ‘mental formations’ means, I think, after 2 years of Buddhist studies, always a mystery to me until now. Thanks for your comments, Tim…

  • hardie karges 2:44 pm on August 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: binary, Buddhism, digital, , , , , ,   

    The Golden Mean is an Irrational Number–and so are our lives… 

    Growth is easy–more more bigger bigger. Loss is even easier–zip zero nada. Holding steady is the hard part, avoiding all extremes. And this applies at all levels, from the steady state of the universe to the steady state of our psyches, most of which is a fleeting illusion, but still applicable nevertheless, for this is more than a simple survival strategy, but a metaphysical principle, that there is a somewhat meandering middle path that is always capable of yielding more benefits than the extremist positions that promise deliverance or salvation of some kind or other, whether political, social or religious. Buddhism is famous for this, of course, without which its major tenets can sometimes resemble those of the Jains if not Hindus themselves, ‘real’ Indians, born of high caste, Sanskrit, and spicy food. But the principle applies in almost all cases, notwithstanding the modern digital paradigm of zeros and ones that underlie computing in which a binary number system’s on-off capability approximates that of electric switching, resulting in a new electronic digital dimension that powers our modern daily lives. That only accentuates the point I want to make, because there’s more to life than math, and a digital dimension is artificial. Because between every two polar extremes there is a whole rainbow of possibilities, one of which will offer the optimal solution in any given set of circumstances. So there is a myriad of possible realities, but one is usually best, neither poverty nor luxury, neither the non-existence of nihilism nor the infinite existence of a permanent enduring soul traveling in both time and space. But these are points that can be parsed to the limits of our patience and imaginations. Belief is not required. That is one of the benefits of philosophy over religion. You can pick and choose, to see what works best. The difference between religion and philosophy is that religions have members…

     
  • hardie karges 4:40 pm on August 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Buddhism, changes, , , ,   

    Buddhism, Genetics and the Book of Ch-ch-ch-changes… 

    Meditation is the best medicine. Laughter is the best lozenge. Peace is the best pill. Imbibe at will. Chemical solutions are faulty; of that there is no doubt. And any material acquisitions can not be embedded genetically, for this generation or any future one, for oneself or any other, whether any sort of rebirth may magically exist or not. Environment may very well affect genetics, and genetics may very well affect environment, but that still doesn’t imply Lamarckian inheritance of acquired characteristics. Genetics is hard-wired, but that, too, is changeable, and often. Culture is fleeting, and that is nothing but change, environment, fashion, embedded in language and cast to the winds of history, for better or worse, a message in a bottle. Sabbe dhamma anicca = all phenomena are changing, right before our eyes, no matter whether truth or lies, because such distinctions don’t exist, only appearances. Genetics and language play FTSE with nature, as if it were something external, eternal and everlasting. But some things can stand the test of time, trials and tribulations, and a thousand other clichés specifically adopted as a shortcut to feeling, which language can only approximate, culture can only insinuate, and genetics can only suckle. Because true friendship, metta, is a rare and sacred thlng: beyond all the jokes, afta the lafta…

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 2:50 pm on August 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      I like the poetic turn your writing takes here – wondered if you’d thought about adopting poetic form. I was also interested in this:-

      Environment may very well affect genetics, and genetics may very well affect environment, but that still doesn’t imply Lamarckian inheritance of acquired characteristics. Genetics is hard-wired, but that, too, is changeable, and often. Culture is fleeting …

      Nevertheless, we haven’t evolved physically for a very long time, haven’t needed to, because culture clothes and dresses us. Perhaps evolution is cultural now. In which case, one could still say … whoops!

    • hardie karges 3:39 pm on August 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      Genetics has exploded the last five years, check out haplogroups if you haven’t yet, especially y-DNA, currently re-writing prehistory. But most of our evolution these days is cultural; that’s true.

      By poetic form, you mean line breaks? Actually that has occurred to me also, so even laid this one out that way first, looked at it, then said ‘naah’. But I might do it next time, thanx to your input, definitely my current mode, good catharsis ( I think that’s the word I want, not sure) to my current MA thesis, which is straight essay, so need a break from it once a week or so. Thanx for your comments, always a pleasure…

  • hardie karges 2:12 pm on August 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , Forbearance, meanderthals, ,   

    Buddhism and the Winding Path of Forbearance… 

    The world is full of sights and sounds, none of which brings happiness. That is somewhere inside. And this is a central message of Buddhism, of course, and other religions, too, that happiness is not a function of material fulfillment, or even full bellies, so much as it is an internal feeling of psychological contentment, that is not merely quantifiable, but qualifiable, in terms that evoke hard-to-describe pleasures, while invoking few, if any, gods. Because the old war gods have lost their power; and the old goddesses have lost their punch. That was an earlier time when desires were simple and the jobs were few, goddesses there to multiply us, gods there to divide us. As the populations increase, then so do the problems, almost by mathematical certainty. So once our material survival is theoretically guaranteed, then immediately we begin killing each other, even though the other now poses no significant risk, just annoyance, and provokes our lack of forbearance, and our inability to make peace instead of war, to share the wealth instead of fighting over it. And this is the message of much religion, to love each other, but not necessarily THE other, that defining line the rub of religion that sometimes gives it the rep of uniting people in all the wrong ways, against the other, rather than with him, because the mere fact that we see an other is evidence of his or her otherness, is it not? And so continues the march of history, zig zag meanderthals in search of a path, any path, that has an unobstructed field and maybe even a clear exit, just in case we need a rest. Maybe our bellies are TOO full, in fact, that material contentment counter-indicated once it becomes assured, a little uncertainty called for in order to foment change. Monks and rishis fast, after all, not because they want to lose weight, but because they are hungry for another kind of fulfillment, and sometimes it is just that easy to tease out the tiny details of spiritual fulfillment, just enough of a difference to make a difference. We can see in DNA that multiple mutations provide the raw material for evolution, despite the occasional disastrous kerfuffle. So if it’s good enough for nature, then it’s good enough for me. We are arrogant with our predictions, proclamations, and prognostications, but nature is kind in its uncertainty. Civilization has betrayed its promise. It’s time to return to Nature–again…

     
  • hardie karges 3:02 pm on July 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , ,   

    World Peace and the Middle Path of Progress 

    World Peace Plan: Guys, trade your guns for guitars, like the Tuaregs do. Work with women. Create sustainable wealth, divide equally, repeat. Simple, right? Ah, but life is not so easy in the realm of the real, is it? Fairy tales always have happy endings, but the real world has road blocks and obstacles and impediments to happiness, no matter how you define it, no matter what you think. And this is the conundrum, in the life of the living, in the world of the worldly, how to find the means of satisfaction, the method of deliverance, from suffering and woe, how to proceed with good feelings, even when there is no clear path, much less a Lonely Planet guide book available in forty-two languages. We come into this world kicking and screaming, and anything we gain after that point is gravy on the potatoes, icing on the cake. They say no one gets out of here alive, and that much is true, the end-game certain and merely a question of time. So the middle seven innings are what is important in this game, or the second and third quarters, prime time to challenge fate, our time to shine. Pain is a powerful impetus to change, and that is our goal, just give us a fair hearing, just give it a name…

     
  • hardie karges 5:16 pm on July 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, ,   

    Buddhism, Possessions and the Middle Path 

    We are possessed by our possessions, slaves to our desires, captives in our own cages, smiling all the while. For this is the fate we choose for ourselves, lest freedom tempt our fates. This is the road well-traveled, secure in its very weight. This weight of possession is what keeps us grounded, and flying is too far to fall. This weight is what keeps us padded, in case the path gets too steep, or too deep, and the only way out is up. Because these ruts can get sticky, and success can breed contempt. Still the only path is forward, and to return is not allowed, unless it’s by a different route, and then all bets are worthless. Survival is the only goal, and bliss just a wayward thought. The Middle Path is always best, no matter what or where the terrain. Inner psyches are rock-strewn and social challenges are cruel. Still we have so much to learn and so little time, and the only school is too brutal to waste time in fear of it. Time is short and the clock is ticking. We are probably the first species to consciously decide its own fate, or not…

     
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