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  • hardie karges 6:54 am on October 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Chogyam Trungpa, Dalai Lama, defilements, , , Hinduism, , , , , , , , ,   

    Buddhism 301: Do I save myself, or do I save the world? Decisions decisions… 

    img_1893I’m paraphrasing, of course, but this is the question that has plagued—no, let’s say intrigued’—the sangha (Buddhist community) for two and a half millennia, more or less, if not in so many words, then in so many actions, cutting to the chase, and allowing for interpolations and extrapolations, i.e. whether to think big, farming ideas and allowing for fierce and free debate, or to think small, on the achievement of individual ‘liberation’ and the purging of ‘defilements’ from the composite makeshift personalities that we call ‘I’…

    And if that’s an oversimplification, then it’s for a worthy cause, ’cause sharper focus is what’s needed for Buddhism to escape the same fate in the West that it met in India a millennium ago, going down in defeat largely because of its inability to distinguish itself from a resurgent ultra-nationalistic Hinduism and an insurgent Islam, such that Buddhism simply got lost in the shuffle of competing meditative traditions and could no longer count on its fall-back position as the non-Hindu alternative… (More …)

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  • hardie karges 7:24 am on September 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Dependent Origination, , Hinduism,   

    ME 6103: So You Wanna’ Be a Buddhist? Eat this… 

    IMG_1184

    Buddhist shrine in Sri Lanka

    So you’ve just finished “Buddhism for Dummies” and think that you might want to take the big plunge, into Buddhism, that is, and now you’re wondering what to do next? Well, I’ve got good news and bad news: there is no Big Plunge, not really, so you can just start calling yourself a Buddhist when ever and wherever you want, limited only by time and circumstance…

    And if you need more than that, then you can go to a Buddhist meditation retreat for a more intense introduction, BUT: unless it’s coordinated with a Buddhist temple, then it’s probably not really Buddhist. Most American meditation events are yoga-affiliated, and while that’s fine, and highly recommended—it ain’t Buddhism. Yoga is a Hindu discipline. Meditation is both, Hindu and Buddhist, too, plus the almost-forgotten-by-now Jains, and others… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 3:17 am on January 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Hinduism, ,   

    Religion 401: Beyond Ficciones and Supersticiones… 

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    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 9:03 am on April 24, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bahai, , Hinduism,   

    Hinduism, Islam and Baha’i: Castes and Classes and Rose-Colored Glasses… 

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    Hindu Temple in Sri Lanka

    I tend to concentrate on Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism as the world’s three major religious offerings, though that system follows no formal logic, especially since by actual numbers of adherents, Hinduism would be number three.  Rather it seems to reflect their current positions in terms of relative importance, especially in articulating clearly defined philosophical and religious positions.  But I should add that personally I wouldn’t really want Hinduism anyway, for a number of reasons.

    For one thing: they apparently don’t want me, notwithstanding all the many light-skinned ‘Hare Krishnas’ out there showing devotion to Gods that their parents never heard of. The signs dotting temples around India are clear: ‘Hindus only’. Ouch. The only other religion where I’ve experienced that is Islam. They asked me to leave the mosque in KL, Malaysia, when I was just sitting there quietly—like everybody else. Double ouch. I wasn’t asked about my religious affiliation.

    But this is not too surprising, considering that Hinduism is mostly a national religion, the Indian religion, with all that that entails, i.e. few outside adherents, except in the neighboring states, especially Nepal, and far-fetched Bali, where they took it really seriously a millennium or two ago, and never gave it up. That once occurred all over SE Asia, notably the Khmer empire, hence to be largely supplanted by Buddhism, and to a lesser extent Islam and Christianity. (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 8:03 am on November 8, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: alcohol, , , Hinduism,   

    Building the Perfect Religion: Humility, Moderation and Sobriety? Ouch… 

    Well, I guess sex is no big deal, after all, in my perfect hypothetical religion, basically just: cover your genitals, please. And don’t do it in public. And hide it from the kids. Dress moderately. Homosexuality is okay, as long as you don’t demand the right to march down Market Street in only your jockstrap. Abortion is a horrible thing, but ultimately a woman’s right to choose, for lack of better options. I would only say to women who see this issue as only an issue of women’s health: we’re talking about a human life here, okay? At some point it becomes murder, which is not okay… what else?

    Like sex, most religions don’t deal with issues of sobriety directly, but many do, being prohibited outright in some. Once again I see no clear path either way, but it has certainly been an object of contention over the years. To this day, many counties and cities in the USA are ‘dry’, not allowing any sales of alcohol; and many others are so restrictive that they accomplish much the same purpose, allowing mixed drinks only in eating establishments, for instance, the only stand-alone bars limited to beer.

    But mention Christianity or the West to much of the world, and the first image that comes to many foreigners’ minds is alcohol—and drunkenness. It’s pretty accurate, really. Historical scuttlebutt is that the Celts invaded the Roman Empire looking for wine, long after they themselves had had a reputation for beer, from which the Spanish word for it—cerveza—comes, apparently. They likely invented wheels and pivoting axles, too, so the buzz is not necessarily bad, just disgusting for a lot of people, it seems. I concur. It’s messy. There are cleaner highs, if you just gotta… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 9:55 am on September 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Hinduism, , , , Michelangelo   

    Pictures of God—Faces and Places… 

    Michelangelo’s God…

    God’s face is a concept best left in the textbooks, suggesting as it does Michelangelo’s Charlton Heston, mugging for the cameras and getting all wrathful, railing at the Ishmaelites and rooting for the Jews; it’s better to talk about Nature, and Love, and Heaven up above, than God-heads with silver hair and yellow teeth…

    So I can understand why people are put off by the pictures of God, early on depicted by Renaissance painters as harsh and warlike, playing headlong into the notion of ‘God-fearingness’ as the proper basis of religion, AND…

    …even later depictions of Jesus with the bedroom eyes and the doe-like gaze do little to mitigate the sneaking feeling that, in effect, we’re doing exactly what the Bible enjoins against, i.e. worshiping graven images, whether graven in stone, oil pigments, silver nitrate, or bits and bytes, BUT… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 9:16 am on October 19, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Hinduism, , , ,   

    Religions Gone Awry, Systems Rendered Asunder 

    Buddhist shrine in Sri Lanka

    Buddhist shrine in Sri Lanka

    Islam promotes discipline and ends up glorifying violence. Christianity promotes love and ends up glorifying sex. Buddhism promotes non-possession and ends up glorifying money. Hinduism promotes India. Judaism promotes Israel. How did our major religions go so badly wrong? Good question. An even better question is how to set them right again. It won’t be easy.

    Religion was long ago taken over by politics, and used as a tool for manipulation, souls for sale as the price of politics, people’s desire for meaning in life reduced to authoritarian submission and hopes for the best. Truth, beauty, and goodness have been traded for sex, money, and violence in some devil’s bargain, arbitrage of the soul, leveraged buy-outs of vestigial beliefs, so much debris and detritus… (More …)

     
    • chicagoja 11:22 am on October 19, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I agree whole-heartedly. However, understanding God never required a religion, a church or even a holy book.

  • hardie karges 4:20 pm on July 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Hinduism,   

    Let There Be God (and on the Seventh Day We created God)… 

     

     

    Christian God

    Christian God

    The idea of a Michelangelo-like anthropomorphic God, wrathful and scheming (before Jesus made him all love-y dove-y), bad teeth and all, thunderbolt in hand, is so absurd and fantastic, that I’ve long wondered how such nonsense ever got started, and moreover, how it persists. My idea is that it originates in the feedback over death, probably around the time Neanderthals (no, not Me-anderthals) began burying their dead.

    We humans look for meaning, of course, as such is our curse, so some must have wondered about these newly dead: Where do they go? What will they do when they get there? The idea that people are here one moment, then gone the next, is a tough pill to swallow, after all. Even dogs go through mourning. I suspect the phrase “WTF” also originated around this time.

    (More …)

     
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