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

    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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  • hardie karges 5:34 am on December 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Boy Scouts, , , , , Middle Path, , , , , , , , ,   

    Boy Scouts: be prepared. Buddhists: not so fast… 

    img_1572

    The Golden Spires of Shwedagon Pagoda

    This is one of the problems I have with Buddhism, the whole ‘no-thought’ paradigm, that always seems to find currency, notwithstanding the fact that the Buddha never said anything like that, not to my knowledge, anyway, and the term sati, which has taken on the meaning of ‘mindfulness’, probably had no such lofty connotations at the time, the problem now being one of vagueness, if not deliberate obfuscation, in order to inspire awe and reverence, apparently, as if it is untranslatable to the ordinary mortal…

    But it certainly is a common ordinary word in modern standard Thai, something like simple ‘consciousness’ or ‘mind’, so ‘mindfulness’ is a marketing hook to sell a fad to the West, that special sauce and some righteous hocus pocus, such that the makers of the film ‘Samadhi’ have to explain that the term is untranslatable to English, notwithstanding the fact that it is done all the time outside the rarefied circles of New Age fad religions… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 5:24 am on October 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Euclid, Fibonacci, , golden mean, golden ratio, Middle Path, , , ,   

    Zero, Emptiness and the Golden Mean of Buddhism… 

    img_1935The concept of the Golden Mean always crossed my mind when studying Buddhism, but I never heard anyone reference it re: the Middle Path, i.e. madhyamagga, until recently, and while I’m not sure the reference is entirely correct, I do think the possibilities are exciting. In fact the Golden Ratio (a probably more accurate term) is 1.618, “a special number found by dividing a line into two parts so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is also equal to the whole length divided by the longer part”—Wikipedia

    This is also the foundation of the famous Fibonacci sequence, ubiquitous as a design principle in nature, and known to humans as early as Plato and Euclid, who was first to define it, and celebrated initially because for some reason it just looks good, or somehow feels right, notwithstanding the fact that it is by definition always a bit eccentric, i.e. off-center…

    And in fact the concept of center did not fully even exist at the time, before the invention of zero, so only geometrically as the fixed point of a radius, but not mathematically as a divider and multiplier for ever-increasing levels of exponential counting, literally ‘powers of zero’, or ‘powers of ten’, if you prefer, in addition to forming something of a ‘dead center’ or ‘ground zero’ mathematically, which can be repeated infinitely as decimals for each and every member of the count… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 6:04 am on October 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , fallacy, , , , , Middle Path, , soteriology   

    Buddhism and Language: the curse of narratives… 

    IMG_0599Though not often heralded as such, language is arguably the world’s greatest invention, and I think that, like most inventions, it might have a limited lifespan of prime utility, and it’s a very arguable point that the world just might be better off without it. I don’t arrive at this conclusion lightly, given that fact that I love language with all my heart and all my soul, but if it’s outlived its usefulness, then it just might need to be put out to pasture (and there just might be something better)…

    Of course, whether people would be willing to do this is debatable, but still, it’s probably worth having the discussion, just to make the point, if nothing else. And the point is that many of the world’s problems are verbal. A policeman gives an order, and you are supposed to obey, immediately and without question. Otherwise they’ll shoot you, in America, at least, no matter that you’re deaf or not an English speaker. That’s not their fault. And, of course it’s not the language’s fault, either, for the bad intentions of its major malefactors. But still one of its main functions is aggression, to be sure, e.g. ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 6:04 am on July 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , center, dark matter, , Middle Path, , , , sunya, sunyata,   

    Buddhism, shunyata and the cult of zero… 

    IMG_1559The Buddhist doctrine of shunyata is one of its most famous, and the one that put Mahayana Buddhism on the map, a full step beyond what was envisioned with the original teachings of the Buddha, yet well within that purview. It is usually translated as ’emptiness’ or ‘voidness’, though I prefer ‘zero-ness’, in recognition of the fact that the word ‘shunya’ or ‘sunya’ literally means just that, zero, and in the modern standard language of every Theravada Buddhist country today, still means just that, or a derivation thereof…

    And if that sounds a bit spacey and abstract, it’s probably best thought of as an extended version of the Buddha’s doctrine of anatta or ‘no-self’, or no soul or no ego, i.e. no intrinsic reality to the human personality, which, according to this theory, is merely a collection of (s)kandhas, literally ‘heaps’ of transient characteristics with no permanence… (More …)

     
    • quantumpreceptor 6:29 am on July 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Hey great post and expansion of the zero idea. Even for the fact that zero has been named means that it is something.
      Have you heard of sunyata as being explained as empty of? Empty of its own or independent existence?

      QP

      • hardie karges 7:15 am on July 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks. Yes, I think that your definition is the most commonly accepted one, and if I didn’t say that, then I meant to. Mostly I just wanted to give some context to the development of the doctrine. It seems that ‘shunya’ was discussed even in the Buddha’s time, becoming ‘shunyata’ later on. The invention of the zero was a really big deal, and it just may have much more to do with the development of Buddhism than is commonly acknowledged, a thesis I intend to investigate further. Thanks for your comment…

        • quantumpreceptor 12:23 pm on July 17, 2018 Permalink

          Yes, Hardie, that’s a really interesting idea to develop that further, I can’t wait.

          As for being a discussed​​, I would even say that it was a hot topic. In Tibetan, we have three words rangtong, shentong, and detong. The tong comes from tongpanyi which is Tibetan for shunyata. Rangtong is empty of self-nature​. Many see only rangtong as nihilistic nits nature. Shentong is described as emptiness with something on top. The idea here was that because it could be experienced that the experience was part of reality. This was debated as being materialistic.

          Detong is also very interesting. De comes from Dewa and means great bliss. So detong is seen as the great joy that arises from emptiness. This happens when mind recognizes its own radiant space.

          You may look at these three terms as competing ideas and to some extent be correct. However, you may also see them as a natural progression as one leading to the next as if they were steps along the way. I cannot wait to find out more about your zero theory.

          QP

    • Dave Kingsbury 4:52 pm on July 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Some great practical suggestions that could give town planners something to think about. If they aren’t an endangered species! Seriously, they worry about what to do with empty shops … community hubs? You bring this abstract subject to life by relating it to modern discoveries and issues eg. “It should be noted that this is not much different from the logical conclusions to be drawn from a thorough consideration of the implications of the reality depicted by quantum mechanics: things are not real, not really”

      • hardie karges 6:13 pm on July 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        I’ve always loved Mexican cities, with the central park and lots of community space. I always assumed it was a Spanish thing, but it may actually be pre-Columbian. And what with ‘high streets’ now under the assault of online shopping, it’s probably time to reassess the role of cities…

        • Dave Kingsbury 11:50 am on July 17, 2018 Permalink

          I’d love to think we had matured enough to take considered stock of the past and come up with a better future, though I fear we might be too locked in our mad consumer present …

  • hardie karges 5:45 am on June 17, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Middle Path, , ,   

    Beyond Buddhism: and the meaning of life is… 

    img_1773The opposite of death, of course, whatever that is, no more no less, the two like dancing partners choreographed to perfection, or life partners resigned to the fact. There is no other option, no matter how much the creators of cryogenics would wish it, or however much the authors of science fiction might fantasize. You can only delay the inevitable; every doctor will admit that, but still we spend every last cent to prolong our lives another minute or two for the sake of science, for the sake of the impenetrable sadness…

    And these same doctors think that the cure for suicide is better anti-depression drugs, as if all happiness is chemical and all meaning is logical, as if we were born with a seventy-year contract to fulfill, and any less would put us in breach. But yes, we are in breach, we are always in breach, that slashed gap between the open sores of our bodies and the unrealized expectations we had in mind, the slashed gap of duality. Maybe we should invent some new drugs to enhance our false expectations? No, we’ve got enough of those already… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 8:21 am on May 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , kilesa, , Middle Path, , samma sankappa, , , transmigration   

    Buddhist Mindfulness as Mindlessness? Wait a minute… 

    IMG_0959Okay, so I admit it: I’m going through a crisis of confidence with my newfound love of Buddhism, and all that entails. The devil is in the details, of course, as even the ever-tricky Buddha himself well knew, just like Jesus after him, that you pick and choose what to tell the initiates and laypeople at any one time, subject to their capacity to comprehend, assimilate, or even fathom, concepts which may just be a bit difficult to swallow at first, or maybe forever…

    Compounded by the fact that the Buddha himself was just a bloke, not a God, nor even his son, and so not omniscient, and subject to the limitations thereof, to most of which he himself spoke, the profound limits which define our existence on this blue-green orb of light color and sound which we call earth, the world, home, samsara, all we’ve got, except what we can make for ourselves, given time, energy, and the raw materials to work with, including consciousness… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:47 am on March 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , divine, , , , Middle Path   

    Buddhism Redefined: In Defense of the Divine… 

    img_1572

    The Golden Spires of Shwedagon Pagoda

    It is almost an article of (non?) faith that sooner or later religion will lose its impetus and die, covered and buried by the very dust that it has gathered over the last few centuries, as if the only thing we need is one more app in the smart-phone to give us ultimate and infinite happiness, or one more notch on the bed-post to give meaning to a life in a world which may not otherwise have any…

    …as if the only reason for the existence of any religion was to tell us one more lie to justify the status quo of power incarnate in the body of the ruler, and secondarily to give us the trappings of knowledge, as best as could be surmised, at least a little bit, from the wise men of the ruling house, reading the stars and telling tall tales… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 11:08 am on October 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Middle Path, ,   

    Building the Perfect Religion: Buddhist Middle Path and the Pride of Sin… 

    In Spires In Thailand

    In Spires In Thailand

    Now I’m not sure exactly what the Scottish rock band Franz Ferdinand had in mind when they sang about “right thoughts right words right action”, but I suspect that at least one of the blokes has some interest in Buddhism, because that little trifecta of meaning pretty much sums up the Buddhist ‘Middle Path’.

    And if avoidance of excess is one of the cornerstones of our hypothetical perfect religion—akin to the Buddhist Middle Path—then humility would have to be the second cornerstone. Note the similarity—and difference—to and from the related concept of humiliation. This is where the Middle Path comes in again. Humility, aka ‘humbleness’ is a very good thing, while humiliation is not, whether on the ends of giving or receiving…

    Pride is its opposite, of course, and well-known as one of the Christian sins, and probably one of the least-respected and most-abused. After all, what father is not proud of his son, and less deserving of it? It’s as though fathers and mothers see their sons’ and daughters’ actions and accomplishments as direct reflections on themselves, as though their offspring are hired hands with scripted roles to play. Sounds like a recipe for disaster… salt to taste… (More …)

     
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