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

    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 7:51 pm on April 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , religion,   

    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 7:31 am on April 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , religion   

    Fear and Awe, Recipes and Sutras… 

    Half of all religion is based on fear, fear of dying and fear of flying, fear of failure and fear of success. The other half is based on awe, whether awful or awesome, it really doesn’t matter to an emotion junkie, a feelings philanderer, ready to take a lashing for passion and come back for more, sight unseen. Because that’s half the rush, the adrenaline rush, that quest for novelty and the thrill of victory, over trivial obstacles and deliberate roadblocks, fear of the unknown conquered by insatiable thirst. But that’s a recipe for disaster, the craving for conditions with no concern for the consequences. Surely there must be a better way, a happy Buddhist medium between the extremes of delight or despair. Just curious: If I forgo the laughter, can I forgo the tears? Asking for a friend…

     
  • hardie karges 5:07 am on March 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , religion   

    Making Do in Trumplandia: Religion and Politics… 

    Build bridges not walls, trust not fear, paths without obstacles, hope not despair. And that’s usually seen as the job of politics, economics and policy decisions, creating a more just and better world, usually by creating more money, by creating constant growth, assuming that there are no limits, and planning accordingly, as if oil flows from the ground without end, as if resources are infinite, as if populations can multiply indefinitely with no repercussions. But it doesn’t always work out that way. The obstacles are many and the heroes are few. Sometimes there is simply nothing that you can do; or at least it seems that way. Then philosophy takes over from politics, and religion grows wings. We count our blessings, not our money, and expect nothing from others. Because when the world seems like a cruel place, sometimes the only thing we can do is to change our relation to it; expect less and appreciate more. My neo-Buddhist attitude is pretty simple: If you can’t change the world, then change the narrative…

     
  • hardie karges 4:10 am on January 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ICE, intent, , , morality, , religion   

    Buddhism and Donald Trump, Criminal Intent and Modern Justice 

    img_2116Intent is the elephant in the courtroom of modern justice, beyond forensics and beyond genetics, the need to know what someone was thinking and why they thought it, at such-and-such a time and such-and-such a place. But isn’t this a system doomed to failure? And is it really necessary? Only we European-derived Westerners could invent a term like schadenfreude, delight in the misfortune of others, not so much the passive enjoyment of something such so strange, but that we do it so often that we have a name for it…

    But that is indeed the case, that we are so obsessed with our feelings that our whole system of justice is based upon it, such that if someone is supposedly repentant, then that counts in his favor, whereas without it he is doomed to longer incarceration, as if we could really know the difference, so to make ourselves feel good we reward the best actors, and maybe the most honest are doomed to perdition… (More …)

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

    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, , , religion, , 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, , , , , , , , , religion, , , , ,   

    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 4:07 am on November 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , moksha, nibbana, , philoosophy, religion, satori   

    Buddhist Enlightenment is Hard Work; Saving the Planet is even Harder… 

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    Kwan Yin (Kuan Im), Sino-Thai Bodhisattva

    I don’t think too much about Nirvana or satori, Nibbana or moksha or any of the other Promised Lands of Buddhism, simply because they seem to refer to another sphere or another dimension or another life which I have little interest in, when the problems of this life should be plenty to keep us busy for the foreseeable future…

    Because the hate and anger must stop here, grounded and defused and refused re-entry into the society of minds and hearts of men, egos run wild with apparent abandon and artificial stimulation. Enlightenment is probably not even about bliss at all. It’s probably hard work, suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and true suffering, inflicted by the whims and wills of men with minds conditioned to inflict cruelty… (More …)

     
    • Alex 12:55 am on November 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      I think Buddhists can have a very important place in commenting on politics as Buddhists – just needs to be done in a Buddhist way; from a place of loving kindness

      • hardie karges 1:11 am on November 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Maybe. But that’s a subject of much debate. And there are risks. Thanks for your comments.

        • Alex 1:15 am on November 26, 2018 Permalink

          There are risks to any actions as none are neutral, but I think we should still try. In a time of much hate and anger, we have a chance to try and change the tone 🙂

        • hardie karges 10:35 pm on November 26, 2018 Permalink

          We definitely should try to change the tone, no question about that, samma ditthi, samma vaca, etc…

    • Dave Kingsbury 5:02 pm on November 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      As always, Hardie, you achieve an unflinching PoV which seeks to include rather than avoid and employs common sense in a very down-to-earth way. Hard work that pays off, I’d say. And as you say, ‘Enlightenment is probably not even about bliss at all.’ Realism, perhaps?

      • hardie karges 10:30 pm on November 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Thx, Dave. Theravada enlightenment may be about bliss, but not the Mahayana version, I’d say, gotta’ improve the status of others, also. Thanks for your comments…

        • Dave Kingsbury 1:52 am on November 27, 2018 Permalink

          My pleasure – no man is an island, to use John Donne’s words …

        • hardie karges 3:57 am on November 27, 2018 Permalink

          Indeed, haha… (guess I forgot to attribute the Shakespeare quote in my own post, or even put quotation marks, oops!)…

        • Dave Kingsbury 7:30 am on November 27, 2018 Permalink

          That Hamlet soliloquy is as good a summary of life/death as one might hope for.

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