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

    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 9:47 pm on May 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Dylan, Illusion, , , , philosophy, , significance   

    Maya, Illusion, and the Ruminations of the Buddha’s Barber… 

    Life has no meaning but that which we give it. We are the significance monkeys. We are the meaning monkeys. We are the monkeys hooked on happy endings and the agreement of subject and object. We are monkeys in love with our languages and out literature and our lust for languor, long slow baths and a reason to laugh, castles in the air and castles made of sand, visions of Johanna in the palms of our hands. We spin a lump of sugar into cotton-candy daydreams, and live out our lives in opposition to the obvious, that we are lumps of stuff pressed into the service of human hubris. We create concepts and precepts and conclusions with antecedents. But just because you can imagine something doesn’t mean that it’s real. And that’s one of life’s lessons, the difference between reality and fantasy, a sliding scale of solidity…

     
  • hardie karges 7:51 pm on April 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , philosophy, , , ,   

    The multi-colored reality between dreams and darkness… 

    Just because you can imagine something doesn’t mean that it’s real. And this has been a problem since time immemorial, especially in the fields of philosophy and religion, the gap between reality and imagination, the disparate levels of materialism and spirituality. This plays to the difference between our wildest dreams and our harshest realities, and apparently it all began with language. If something can be written down, then doesn’t it exist, at least to some extent? Of course it does, but that does define reality? Probably not. Plato found that out the hard way, ditto Christianity, and Buddhism deals with it on a daily basis.This is the arrogance of the written word, and the thinking mind, by the same token. We need a better measure of reality, and science would seem to be the answer, the method, constantly shifting, nothing to do with anything like blind allegiance. Sorry, grasshopper. Your dreams can’t all come true. So I guess a few will have to do…

     
  • hardie karges 6:58 am on April 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , philosophy, , ,   

    The Word and the World, Both Too Much with Us 

    You can be in the world and not be of the world, and that is important for those of us who choose other-worldly pursuits, as typically defined, with pleasure not reduced to sensation and payments largely in kind. Money is the mark of the beast and possession is his hand-maiden, the need to accumulate more and more, bigger and bigger, the ultimate swindle, as if existence cold be quantified and life codified. But total Buddhist renunciation is not possible, either, except for brief retreats, because to live in a world removed is only possible with strings and ties, so the same dreaded possession to be avoided, ultimately. The answer is to carry that beloved retreat with you, and me, in your head to be applied liberally at any convenient point of contact, and as constant reminder of the blessings of omission to which you, and I, have pledged heartfelt allegiance. Every mouthly utterance should be a word’s worth. True freedom is internal as well as external…

     
  • hardie karges 5:55 am on March 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , philosophy   

    Taming the Wild Heart 

    Sometimes silence is the best response to futile debates and inappropriate questions, and not a bad way of life in general. And that is the hardest thing to accept for many of us, Americans especially, loud of mouth and loose of tongue, where confrontation is currency and apologies are afterthoughts. This is the zeitgeist of the modern world, wild and chaotic, long after such activities are truly justified, and the cause of many, if not most, of the problems in this world today, in their various forms of greed, hate, and anger, all of which can cause wars, climate catastrophe, and poverty, simply because we are out of control, with our often-misplaced love of freedom/chaos, at whatever cost. Tame your heart, tame your mind, tame yourself, and you will tame the world…

     
  • hardie karges 8:02 am on February 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , philosophy   

    Life on the Credit Card of Kindness… 

    To help someone else is the greatest pleasure, to give not receive the greatest gift, to share credit the truest ego, accepting blame the sign of saintliness. But saints are hard to come by in the age of advanced capitalism and consumerism, the slide-rule of sustained value reduced to begging for coins on street corners and the algebra of need elevated to common currency. Cities are evil places now and leaders are not to be trusted. Pavements are polluted and skies are sad with grief. There is no clear path forward and the only reliable signpost is a smile. Follow the Tao, not the Dow, prophets not profits, generosity devotion introspection and wisdom, any path with heart, any feeling of freedom…

     
  • hardie karges 7:22 am on December 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , dana, philosophy, , Saturnalia, sila   

    Putting the Buddha back in Christmas, and the Rebirth back in New Year… 

     

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    Kwan Yin Fest near Chiang Dao, Thailand

    So I’ve made a big deal, for myself at least, over the fact that, at least in my mind, we as humans, and as Buddhists, or whatever, don’t really have to do anything to be upright moral citizens of this world and this civilization. As long as we don’t do any bad things, then all should be well, for each of us, morally and ethically and spiritually. It is no one’s place and position to prescribe the behavior of others, so long as they are doing nothing wrong and causing no one any harm…

    Then there’s Christmas, the Big Deal for Christians worldwide, with much spillover into other countries, especially those which have significant consumer cultures. But that’s not really what it’s all about, not for those who really ‘get it’, i.e. get the fact that it’s all really about what you give, not what you get. So what you get, hopefully, is the satisfaction of making other people happy… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 6:38 am on December 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , citta, compassion, , , karuna, Khmer, , , , philosophy, , ,   

    Buddhism 101: Metta means Friendship, Karuna means Compassion… 

    IMG_2290You’ve got something pretty special when you put friendship and compassion together, and something pretty simple. Even people who profess to believe in nothing, and categorically reject use of that word ‘belief’ can surely believe in friendship and compassion. And friendship, universal friendship, is a very important concept, easy to forget in our day and time that at some time in the not-so-distant past anyone who was not part of the family was suspect and an object of great fear and suspicion…

    One of my favorite stories, recounted many times, is by Jared Diamond of ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ fame who related that while doing anthropological fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, when two strangers would meet each other, they’d count back to see if they had a mutual relative, so that they wouldn’t have to kill each other, or die trying… (More …)

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 4:28 pm on December 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Informative survey with a convincing historical explanation for fellow-feeling, if that phrase fits. It all builds nicely to your final thoughts where you suggest how experience of different cultures can develop the facility. It’s an important corrective to the divisions – silos, bunkers, echo chambers, whatever – of the modern era.

    • hardie karges 4:45 pm on December 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Dave! Merry Christmas from Cambodia…

  • hardie karges 6:50 am on December 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , human zoo, , philosophy, , , type A,   

    Buddhism, taming the wild beast within… 

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    Buddhism in Sri Lanka

    The zoo is one of my favorite analogies and metaphor for the human species, such that we tame ourselves and our worst impulses, in order to make of ourselves one great human zoo, a petting zoo, properly fed and cared for, so that the need to compete and the struggles with predators should be reduced to little or nothing…

    I know for a fact that two unrelated mammal species raised together from infancy can easily learn to accept each other for the mutual benefit of all, so cats’ and dogs’ need to fight is only learned behavior. Even in the savannas of Africa, at least in the protected areas, many if not most species have symbiotic relationships, such that none are subject to the regular predations of any one specific species–except man. So we are the main problem of violence on this planet, as much or more than any lions, tigers or bears… (More …)

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 4:29 pm on December 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Your own experience here shows the power of adaptability we human beings have, though it can’t exactly have been plain sailing for you. Pride of ego has a lot to answer for, indeed, including our imagined superiority over the rest of life. A phrase I have particular problems with is ‘dog eats dog’. Mostly, they don’t …

    • hardie karges 9:03 pm on December 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, I’m particularly struck by how young our civilization is, barely 10K years, and we’re at each others’ throats most of the time. As space becomes scarce, it’s really time for a new paradigm, which is fairly easy to imagine, really. The hard part is getting people to accept it!

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

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

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    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 …)

     
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