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

    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…

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

    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: , Middle Path, ,   

    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: , 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…

     
  • 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 …)

     
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