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  • hardie karges 4:23 pm on April 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , meditation, , yoga   

    Buddhism and Amerika: Hopelessly at odds with each other? 

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    It seems that way at times, and the situation, indeed, may be hopeless. After all, you don’t see many American football linebackers meditating in a full lotus position, or even quarterbacks, or even half-lotus, or even punt return specialists, or even merely cross-legged on the floor, unless maybe it’s ’25 or 6 to 4′ and the mood is just right. Everything’s better after midnight, including meditation…

    And Buddhism is all about contrition and silence, while Amerikanism is all about brashness and loudness—just ask any European. We Americans aren’t a$$holes, not necessarily; we’re just full of it: full of the intoxication of life, full of the excitement of children, full of the blush and brash of youth, full of the hunt and the chase. And that’s too bad, because that’s not what is needed right now… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:13 am on February 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Mahasi, meditation, , retreat, , Wat Suan Mokh, Yangon   

    Buddhist Boot Camp Comparison, part II: Suan Mokh vs. Mahasi… 

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    Foreign meditators at Mahasi

    Author’s note: For those of you who read my blogs regularly, then you might remember that I did this once before, with Wat Suan Mokh near Surat Thani, Thailand, and Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal, here. But those are two different types of Buddhism, so as different as apples and oranges, really. Mahasi Monastery in Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar (Burma), is the same Theravada branch of Buddhism as Suan Mokh, so closer in orientation. And for my traveler’s perspective of Mahasi, here

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    Meditation at Mahasi

    Of course, not everything fits conveniently into a quick little list, so I’ll explain, expand and expound. WSM has fixed sessions on the first ten days of every month, so just show up the day before and sign up, no pre-registration. MM is even less formal. Just show up any morning and sign up. I suppose either could be full, so no space available, but not sure of that. Sessions at MM are ongoing, minimum ten days, but many stay MUCH longer, up to six months, with ordination as monk a possibility. Normal Myanmar visa is 28 days BTW, though longer ‘meditation visas’ are available.

    WSM’s program is more elaborately presented and diverse, with certain hours in the daily schedule devoted to exercises, listening to CD, dharma talks, etc., in addition to meditation. MM is mostly DIY, alternating sitting and walking meditation on the hour all day every day. For a novice, this is nearly impossible, of course, so if you want to play hooky, just stay in your room. I was hassled once for reading in the common area, when I was supposed to be in the group meditation hall meditating. Walking meditation is more free-form, so take a break then…

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    Lunch at Mahasi

    WSM is part of the Thai Forest Tradition, which gives it an environmental orientation that is quiet, refreshing and sustainable, while Mahasi is within the boundaries of a large city, so necessarily busier and noisier, with frequent visitors from the city and taxis coming and going, in addition to construction activity for current expansion, so MUCH NOISIER…

    Interaction with others is a mixed bag. On the one hand WSM has monks sitting in on sessions, meditation and otherwise, but mostly meditating, and thus giving valuable inspiration on how it’s done. This blew my mind at the time. Conversely, while MM has hundreds of monks and nuns in residence, they have little or no interaction with foreign yogis. There are weekly dharma talks and twice-weekly interviews with the sayadaw-gyi, but that is hardly equivalent to the hands-on SM experience.

    The dharma being espoused is a bit different, too, though both are of the Theravada Buddhist tradition. This I know only because I made the effort to read materials available in MM common areas, which SM has none of, but compensate with CD listening sessions. But MM seems very stuck in the old fundamentalist Buddhism of past lives and karma, which was a big disappointment to me. SM, on the other hand, is more modern, and founder Buddhadhasa is a leader in steering modern Buddhism away from those old fundamentalist modes…

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    Wat Suan Mokh

    But where WSM falls severely short is in the facilities themselves, with rooms resembling prison cells in not even the best of prisons, while MM has much more modern facilities. The splash-pools that pass for common baths at SM look like something from science fiction, so interesting, but not up to the modern standards of private showers. This ain’t Boy Scout camp. SM may be fine for ten days, but any longer than that might not be so good…

    So here’s the skinny. Here’s the fat. I’ll compare the two briefly on a number of topics, basic stats mostly. One caveat: I personally attended the Thai-language session at Suan Mokh, but I’ve tried to corroborate information from the foreigners’ English-language session, hopefully correct. Okay? Here goes:

    1. Food: SM is vegetarian with brown rice; MM has a vegetarian option by request
    2. Gadgets: SM holds phones and laptops (and passports); MM holds only passports
    3. Ambience: SM is in the countryside; MM is in the city
    4. Duration: SM is a fixed 11 days, 10 nights; MM is minimum 10 days, 9 nights
    5. In/Out privileges: SM not sure;, assume no; MM only by special request
    6. Hands-on Instruction: SM yes; MM no, not really
    7. Cost: SM 2000 THB ($60+/-); MM donations accepted
    8. Daily Schedule: SM 4a-9p; MM 4a-9p
    9. Rooms: SM basic room, communal bath; MM nicer room, bath down the hall
    10. Meals: SM breakfast and lunch, liquids in afternoon; MM two meals
    11. Sex: SM has M/F sep. facilities, mixed classes; MM: M/F separate all

    So there is no clear winner. In general, I’d say that WSM is better for novice and/or short-term stays, MM better for long-term DIY and/or experienced meditators. I particularly like WSM’s prayer chanting sessions, which for me is as much or more the heart of Buddhism as meditation. And the hot springs are nice, too (after I finished cleaning them). But the rooms suck. I’ve got a better idea: try both. Both Thailand and Burma have many other meditation centers as well. I hope this helps. Enjoy.

     
  • hardie karges 3:46 pm on December 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , meditation   

    Buddhism: 10% Inspiration, 90% Meditation… 

    img_0991Why meditation? Why not? Can nothingness heal? I say ‘nothingness’, though Buddhists generally prefer the term ’emptiness’, and I won’t quibble over syntax nor semantics, as long as no one says the word ‘nihilism’, not to be confused with ‘Nealism’ for all you rock-and-shouters, and holy rollers. But after long riffing on Sartre’s ‘nothingness’, I now prefer the term ’emptiness’, also, as it implies a form, a vessel, though equally accessible with or without content, an important distinction…

    Is Meditation a paradigm for life? At first the proposition seems rather preposterous, but that is exactly what many Buddhists, plus Eckhart Tolle and others seem to be suggesting, if they are to be believed, many of them blithely advising that we cease our critical thinking altogether and ‘live in the moment’. Of course without any analytical thinking there would be no Science, no Technology, few arts and even less letters, so I roundly reject the suggestion as misguided fantasy, and merciless fancy… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 8:26 am on November 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , meditation, , nomad   

    Buddhism 201: Half-Way down the Middle Path to Everywhere… 

    img_0980My friends probably think I’ve gone off the deep end, what with my current obsession with the Buddhist religion, almost to the exclusion of all else. They’re probably right. I hope so. And yet I’ve barely scratched the surface, because the pool is very deep. But yes, I’m getting deeper and deeper into the Thai ‘forest tradition’ of Buddhism, which may or may not be the perfect religion, but it’s better than anything else that I’ve found, in fifty some-odd years of quest…

    … the almost perfect combination of religion, nature, lifestyle, environmentalism and sustainability. I always thought that Buddhism was mostly philosophy, which I liked, but seems it’s equally religious trappings, which I’d become increasingly aware of in Thailand, and psychology, too, based heavily on meditation, more than I ever realized, probably because that’s a specialty of serious adepts and initiates, especially monks and priests… (More …)

     
    • tiramit 4:56 am on November 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I really like the enthusiasm… I like it all. Have you decided on a date to ordain?

      • hardie karges 10:14 am on November 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks! Hopefully ordain next month in Thailand, if I can clear my deck of debits and credits, long enough to try on the robes…

  • hardie karges 8:01 am on November 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Eckhardt Tolle, , meditation,   

    Buddhist Meditation 101: Don’t just stand there! Do Nothing–Quickly (but slowly)! 

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    In Spires In Thailand

    If I’ve learned anything in my life, ANY ONE SINGLE THING, it’s not to harbor resentment and ill will, and this can be done, with some practice and some diligence. There should be a better term for this in English-language parlance than simply ‘letting (it) go’, but then, that’s not exactly our specialty as a culture, now, is it? So I guess that will have to do. If every single moment of our lives is potentially new, then I guess we could thank the Christian tradition of confession for that, but meditation is probably better…

    I used to invoke the ‘Three Times’ clause with a previous GF, so that once we repeated the same talking points three times in any given argument, then we should stop, invoke a period of silence, and come back to it the next day, if we could still remember what it was we were arguing about. We never could of course—ever. So my erstwhile GF should have loved me all the more for that little trick, right? Yeah, right…

    (More …)

     
    • davekingsbury 4:06 pm on November 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Have copied this to read at leisure …

    • davekingsbury 2:15 pm on November 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      … now read, an excellent guide to the subject with your characteristic blend of breadth, sharp focus and personal insight. In fact, you’ve inspired me to have a go tonight – the easy Maharishi version but usually slows me down effectively!

      • hardie karges 4:19 pm on November 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Dave, meditation is a bit of a learning curve, but well worth it…

  • hardie karges 10:12 am on August 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , meditation   

    Meditation, Visual Thought and DNA: our crown of thorns… 

     

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    DNA as word as DNA as word

    Was everything fine until the invention of language spoiled the soup, adding a layer of symbols between us and reality, where symbols were not necessarily needed? Without getting lost in the issue of whether language is instinct or invention, let’s assume so, for the sake of argument, that people began thinking in language when that had not previously been the case…

    So people naturally fell in love with them, the little sounds and symbols, when they weren’t necessarily intended for everyone in the first place, maybe just priests and scholars and their trusted accomplices. Did written language in fact precede the verbal as people felt the need to verbalize what they were describing in pictures? That’s another question for another time…

    But it’s tempting to conclude that maybe phonetic language is at the heart of the problem of ‘too much thought’ clouding up our minds, too much ‘white noise’ cluttering up our collective existences, too many junk-food repetitive thought-loops colluding to drown us in mindless mental activity, BUT…… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 4:30 pm on July 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , meditation   

    Religion 222: Being and Nothingness, Atheism and Anthropomorphism—Putting a Smile on God’s Face… 

    “Given that Being, Consciousness and Life are synonymous, presence means consciousness realizing itself or Life achieving self-consciousness…” – Eckhart Tolle

    Huh? What? Anthropomorphism in the New Age is pretty much just as bad as what preceded it. We all know the atheist caricature of religion as consisting primarily of “an imaginary friend,” and the best arguments for atheism always centered for me around what were clear instances of assuming God to be some person or persona with desires and wishes and sufferings and blisses, and threats to be dealt with accordingly—obviously b*llsh*t.

    Michelangelo’s grey-haired patriarch with stolid gaze and fierce expression pretty much defined the look. The bad news is that the various ‘New Age’ manifestations of modern religion and ad hoc versions of Hinduism and Buddhism, fashioned more to modern Western tastes than traditional Asian scripts and scriptures, are not much better. (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 6:31 am on July 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , meditation, mind,   

    Philosophy of Mind: Thought or No-thought? 

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    Buddhist shrine in Sri Lanka

    I’ll have to admit that it bothers me somewhat the extent to which Eckhart Tolle goes to demonize the process of thought. Is this not who and what we are, for better or worse? “All thought is judgment.” Really? But he’s definitely got a point about our non-stop narratives (not to be confused with truth or reality) and the resultant mental noise and ego-defenses inherent to such a system.

    His is basically a metaphysics of meditation, if not in so many words, i.e. (mostly) without the Buddhism. And that, of course, is the challenge, in assuming that the mental state achieved in meditation can somehow be maintained every minute of every day of your life. Is that even possible? Maybe so. But I’d like to suggest a slight detour to that conclusion.

    I’ve been reading some Buddhist texts recently that allude to something that probably translates best as the ‘true original mind’ or ‘pristine mind’, as that state to be desired, sought after and accomplished, and hence to be the model for our short shrill suffering-filled existences. Okay, good enough so far, but: what does this ‘true original mind’ consist of and how does it function? That’s the issue to be determined. In other words: Did thought begin with language? (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 11:12 am on February 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , meditation, smartphone, Zen   

    Zen and the Art of Smartphone Maintenance 

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    Buddhism in Sri Lanka

    For someone to say that they just want the Zen Enlightenment, without all the ‘normal’ Buddhist suffering is like a doctor—or patient—who only wants elective surgery, no cure for the common cold necessary, thank you. Of course that can be done, as thousands of the bored wealthy among us do, the elective surgery and the Zen enlightenment up at the Zen Center up on the hill, BUT: there’s only one problem…

    …that ain’t Buddhism, not really IMHO. It’s hard to have true Buddhism in a Christian country. Twenty Christians practicing Buddhism as a second language will be a very ‘Christian-y’ Buddhism. So that’s more like New Age such-and-such, or Transformational something or other, as American as apple pie a la mode du jour.

    There’s more to Buddhism than meditation, too, which is what Zen specializes in, that and the ‘crazy wisdom’ of unsolvable riddles designed to trick your mind into Enlightenment, the Sudden Enlightenment of stopped thought. That IS the goal of meditation, after all, isn’t it, to stop all thought, all linguistic thought, if only for a little while? I’d say so, though there IS some scuttlebutt about accessing other worlds—yeah, right…. (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:43 am on December 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , meditation   

    Buddhist in training… 

    When you start ENJOYING meditation, rather than struggling with it, then I think you’re getting somewhere…

     
    • Sven Johnson 10:43 am on December 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Hardie,
      I have been a couple of times to the Farang Buddhist meditation meetings here in Chiang Rai. Nice people and a great place. But I found out after a couple of times, hearing the discussions about suffering etc etc that I am probably too happy to be able to get something from this meditation. We will see, maybe try it ater a couple of years. Merry Christmas and have a Great New Year!

      • hardie karges 11:47 am on December 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        There are worse problems to have than that, Sven, to be one of the lucky ones… 🙂

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