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  • 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 …)

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

     
  • hardie karges 5:26 pm on November 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bolsonaro, Congress, , , Duterte, , fascist, , , Muslim, Pattani, philosophy, , , , , , Siam, , , Xi Jinping   

    Buddhist Holy War? Consider the possibilities… 

    img_1695 No, I’m not talking about fighting the mean nasty ugly Muslims that fundamentalist Buddhists are supposed to hate because they supposedly ‘destroyed Buddhism in India’ with their medieval invasion, from which Buddhism never quite recovered. But I notice that ‘Hinduism’ recovered, though, hint hint, exposing this as false narrative. It seems that India is not big enough for both, especially when Hinduism is quite happy to include Buddhism under its larger umbrella, making and marketing itself as something of a national religion, if and when it is one, at all…

    And no, I’m not talking about the situation in southern Thailand, in which ethnic Malay nationalists in three southern provinces, who just so happen to be Muslim, have fought for years to win back the independence that was taken from them in 1785 with Siam’s annexation of Pattani. Ironically this was only made official in Siam’s treaty with the UK in 1909, in which as much or more territory was simply transferred to UK ownership for the promise that they would recognize Siam’s sovereignty over the rest (and no more, demands, pretty please!)… (More …)

     
    • RemedialEthics 2:16 am on November 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      As always, your posts appear when I am desperate for evidence that there is a larger world of perspective beyond the narrow, paranoid, and increasingly violent belief system that has a firm grip on America. I stumbled into your blog while Googling the mileage from my home in the AZ desert to the nearest border town of Sasabe. I don’t remember if I ever found the answer to my mileage query, I just decided it’s about 30 miles (maybe) and that is fine because I also don’t recall why I needed to know in the first place. That is exactly what makes the internet great. It is not about being able to find the answers you need in 0.03 seconds, it is about finding the answers you didn’t know you needed. Thank you for caring about the well-being of your countrymen even though you are not in country. I realize how easy it would be to immerse yourself in the arguably more enlightened culture where you are and look away from the ugly reality that has swallowed up your homeland, but your blogs offer a clean, refreshing perspective shift that is just enough to keep the nihilism at bay for a little bit longer. Think of it as charity to those of us who are stuck here and starving for insight from outside the battle zone. Please don’t wash your hands of us just yet.

      • hardie karges 2:27 am on November 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Wow! Thanks! That just might be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me (and I know where Sasabe is, too, nice drive, even crossed the border there once), thanks again…

    • Dave Kingsbury 5:22 pm on November 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, agree with RemedialEthics, your wider world perspective shines a bright light on parochial problems. We have a few of our own this side of the Pond but I came up with this the day after your Midterms and thought it might add a few more light protons … https://davekingsbury.wordpress.com/2018/11/07/halfway-there-a-story-in-100-words/

  • hardie karges 6:42 am on September 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , philosophy, ,   

    Why is Buddhism so pessimistic? Because… 

    IMG_2290I don’t know: so maybe you’ll forego your pride, like a good Christian? I notice that the prouder one is, the more ‘optimistic’ that person also is, most likely assured that whatever good fortune has come to him as a result of superior skill and talent will surely repeat itself infinitely and indefinitely, since the world is a vast abundant field of untold and uncalculated riches, the sky is truly the limit, and YOU are the master of this world, right front and center—uh huh, yeah right…

    Doesn’t that make you feel good? I mean: doesn’t that just make you want to jump out of bed, slam down some breakfast, slide into your suit, cruise downtown, zoom up to the 52nd floor, then order your secretary around, just a little bit, not enough to cause her any lasting damage, much less any drop in office efficiency, just enough to let her know who’s boss, let her know who pays the bills, let her know who wears the pants, or not… (More …)

     
    • The godlike Robert 5:43 pm on September 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      I think Buddhism promotes an alternative understanding of reality. The West sees man as separate and distinct from his environment. In fact the creation story depicts the event occurring instantaneously and conjured by God. And as a spontaneous invention man has no history of relationship to anything outside his skin; not the plants, animals or the earth.
      In this story man is an ego created by a supreme ego and both are aliens to this world. Buddhism demonstrates that the ego is an illusion. What is inside the skin is no different than what’s outside the skin because neither are in your control; do you beat your own heart or can you shine the sun? The conclusion to Buddhism is that the universe is a non linear organic totality and you are only a subset of it, and not even capable any independence from it and more than that you emerged from it and belong in it! There is no other place where you could be…you see?

      • hardie karges 9:35 pm on September 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, I certainly think that Buddhism offers an alternative to the Western paradigm, but that can–and does–go several different directions, operating on a level that can be used as religion, philosophy, psychology or simply technique, depending on the needs of the participant. I think Buddhism is best as an ongoing dialectic, without conclusions, something like a psycho-philosophical method, analogous to scientific method and the dialog between Theravada and Mahayana, hopefully achieving a higher synthesis. The hard part is moving past old narratives that no longer apply. Thanks for your comments!

        • The godlike Robert 12:43 am on September 24, 2018 Permalink

          As science, Taoism and Confuscanism are ongoing dialectics with no conclusions and are not religions!

  • hardie karges 6:30 am on September 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: craving, , , , , , philosophy, , , , , , tanha   

    Buddhism is not about getting your groove on; it’s all about… 

    img_0545Control, unwavering control, of yourself, or even better: non-self, if you can manage it, easy enough but for the vicissitudes of will, that one part of the (s)kandhas that escapes easy categorization and refuses to fall blindly into place as but one of the ‘heaps’ that comprise our personalities and personas and persons that we oftentimes think of as ‘self’, or ‘selves’ if you’re bi-polar, or even ‘soul’ if you have long-term plans, or God forbid ‘ego’ if you can think of little else…

    But ‘will’ or ‘volition’ is right there listed alongside the rest of the heap of verbs-turned-nouns that define us in an act of unholy reification, feeling and form and perception and consciousness, only one a true noun, and that an abstract one, all the rest verbs with regular jobs, turned noun, so more than fleeting fancies, all except will, which needs no linguistic crutch-like suffix ‘-ness’ or ‘-tion’ to lean on, or even the gerundive ‘-ing’ to skate by on all fours… (More …)

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 10:30 am on September 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Encouraging piece for one who, like myself, is very language-oriented. Nothing wrong with being wedded to words, of course, as long as one can cut oneself adrift to float upon an ocean of unknowing. Cripes, did I just say that out loud?

      • hardie karges 8:11 pm on September 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Haha, yes, I’m conflicted over the role of language, On the one hand, I love it, and on the other hand, narratives get stuck and clog our minds, pop music the most obvious example, though no problem with jazz. I think the cure is to think more visually more often and reserve language for more creative efforts, so less boring tedious language, just the good stuff…

        • Dave Kingsbury 1:34 am on September 20, 2018 Permalink

          I think the notion of getting stuck is a fruitful one – bit like a vinyl record stylus that just needs a nudge once in a while. Banal pop lyrics, advertising and political slogans – all examples of when words go bad. Music and art a possible cure – and waiting for the right words to come. 🙂

  • hardie karges 6:41 am on August 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , philosophy, , , ,   

    Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam 101: Religion on the Rebound, Religion on the Run… 

    img_1893All three major international religions have carried their original premises to ridiculous extremes, along with their adherents, whether cause or effect, those original premises all quite similar, and compatible, variations on the themes of love, righteousness, and perseverance, each with a different focus, Christianity on the love, Islam on the righteousness, and Buddhism on the perseverance…

    And from these humble commendable compatible and civilizing influences, each has gone their own ways, Islam to the extremes of religious fundamentalism, holy wars and unholy alliances; Christianity drenched in sex, drugs, and all that rap; and Buddhist perseverance easily given over to passivity, even in the face of the most egregious assaults on basic human rights, individuals reduced to fit in cages, self-imposed prisons of consciousness… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:20 am on April 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , philosophy, ,   

    Buddhism and the Human Condition: Life in the universe at orbital velocity… 

    IMG_2290One of the Christian cardinal sins is pride, of course, to which I might add arrogance, same thing, and ignorance, in the original meaning, literally ignoring that which is obvious, not the least of which is the fact that we are alone here in the universe, each one of us individually, by design and definition, and all of us together, by lack of any other evidence, made manifest on a rock hurtling through space at many times the speed of sound, but far less than the speed of light, orbital velocity far more excited and exciting than the slow cool world in which organic life finds its being and us…

    Our greatest gift is our uniqueness and our greatest sin is our arrogance, not in thinking that we are special; our sin is assuming that we are not. Our ignorance is the idea not that we are alone in the universe, but the certainty that we are not, the arrogance of misplaced value, and a belief in the individual that overrides that of the species. But advanced biological life in a physical dimension is probably the least likely of circumstances that could be predicted given the nature of reality as best that science can determine… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:05 am on March 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , caste system, , , , , molecular biology, , philosophy, ,   

    Buddhism, Rebirth and DNA… 

    img_1773The year 1953 should have been a big one for Buddhism. Something to do with Tibet, you’re probably thinking? No, something to do with the discovery of DNA, I’m thinking, because that meant that we Buddhists would no longer have to twist ourselves into human pretzels and insert our heads halfway up our… meditation postures…

    …just to Ptolemy-like add another feedback loop of ellipses and eclipses to somehow justify and make sense of rebirth, reincarnation in sheep’s clothing, rather than just toss the whole thing out as an outdated vestige of a previous era, in which learning was nascent and science non-existent… (More …)

     
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