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  • hardie karges 5:59 am on July 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , idealism, , Myth of the Cave, , Thailand, Tham Luang, The Republic,   

    Buddhism and the Allegory of the Cave… 

    IMG_2747Plato’s ‘Allegory (or Myth) of the Cave’ is one of the great works of speculative philosophy, and very special to those who love his work, equal in thought and substance to Jesus’s parables, Einstein’s ‘thought experiments, or the Buddhist sutras, IMHO. This is the starting point to Platonic idealism, much of which was incorporated into Christianity in the early Roman era, until they finally got hip to the more worldly work of Aristotle. Hey, things take time…

    Anyway, for the uninitiated, the gist of the work is the setting in which we are inhabitants of a cave, a fire as our only source of light, and unable to turn our heads, so essentially a black-and-white two-dimensional version of reality. But the prisoners of the cave don’t know that, so they assume that this is all there is, and is an accurate representation of reality. What they don’t know is that there is a big colorful world outside to which this internal world literally pales in comparison…
    (More …)

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  • hardie karges 7:11 am on April 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , lila, , Thailand   

    Buddhist Communion in the Land of Big People… 

    IMG_1588The loneliness of travel should be crushing sometimes, but it’s not, not really, and I seem to attract it, by design, as if to do otherwise would mean I’m lazy, and corrupt, too weary in my old age to do the right thing, stay true to my principles, those principles of non-possession, non-attachment and non-consumption…

    Because even though there are no shortage of roadside attractions out there, pubs and clubs and the bestos of restos, that’s not where you’re likely to find me, out hooting and hollering until the sun comes up, as if that were the natural order of the universe, and not its opposite… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 6:56 am on January 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , monk, monkhood, , , Thailand   

    Buddhism ME 6909: Renunciation is a transitive verb–sometimes… 

    img_0953There’s nothing cuter in Thailand than a picture of a young child bowing in obeisance, before a statue of the Buddha, grahping and saddhuing with the best of them, prostrate to unknown gods, long before his little prostate gland would even know the difference, that which supplies the raw materials for reproduction, but to a young infertile mind that yet has no clue to such things…

    Now I firmly encourage respect and reverence to monks and priests and the qualities they represent, but joining the monkhood at an early age, or even growing up at the temple, and, in effect, never knowing any other life, is another thing. I mean: is that really so impressive—and wise? Doesn’t renunciation really only have its true meaning when something is actually renounced? Now, when a millionaire gives up his millions to join the sangha—that’s impressive… (More …)

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 5:06 pm on January 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Hi. Hardie, long time no speak! Been taking a little winter sabbatical from the blogosphere – viewing it, anyhow – to catch up on some offline reading. This strikes your customary balance, with all sides examined and a careful conclusion reached. I think your considered stance is sensible and persuasive in the modern world. As Rimbaud said, it is necessary to be absolutely modern …

    • hardie karges 5:18 pm on January 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Hey, Dave, good to chat, been wrapped up in my own college/monastery duties for months myself, now freer a bit to wander. I just wish DT would leave the scene, so that I can write about happy things again, ha! Thanx for comments, I persevere…

  • hardie karges 6:55 am on November 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: anger, , , , multi-tasking, Thailand, tourist, workaholic   

    Buddhism as a Second Language: Welcome to Thailand… 

    IMG_2692My name is Hardie and I am a workaholic. I started with the small stuff, house raisings and assorted cabin crew, sharp nails into wood and flesh, before moving on to the harder stuff—self-employment! And business!! AARRGGHH!!! But that was just the warm-up to the true disease, a consistent and constant submission to the little man upstairs, who whispered in my ear little things like: “Have you ever heard of multi-tasking?” And that was my downfall, multiple jobs and multiple careers, all simultaneously and in synchronicity—more or less…

    Because, as we now know, there is no true multi-tasking, but more like constant switching, so not a true mix of jobs, but an assortment of jobs, in several cities, and countries, and the constant switching between them, in real time, that is largely a waste of time, and energy, like nibbling from a plate of hors d’oeuvres while stuck in traffic instead of having a healthy solid meal on a nice plate in a nice room with a nice family… (More …)

     
    • Dave Kingsbury 4:37 pm on November 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Great story, Hardie, exemplifying the philosophy very well. That mix of reflection and anecdote really works for me and this bit (edited slightly to bring out the structure) is a nice summary of the Buddhist stance:

      The consumptive mental afflictions that once threatened are now almost laughable. More importantly, the possession and aggression has been reduced to a level low enough to suppress easily and almost instantaneously…
      Better still: this comes at little cost to healthy emotions, such that intensity of feelings has never been higher, while attachment to them has never been lower, and that’s the Holy Grail of Buddhism—the cup always at least half full, never overflowing, but never empty, of anything except intrinsic reality…

      • hardie karges 5:51 pm on November 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Thanx, Dave, you can edit me any time you like! p.s. I don’t say that to everyone, haha…

        • Dave Kingsbury 2:01 am on November 14, 2017 Permalink

          Just thought, Hardie, didn’t mean that as a criticism but as a way of making it more generally applicable – I think the personal dimension of your piece is what gives it bite …

        • hardie karges 2:21 am on November 14, 2017 Permalink

          No criticism, flattered TBH, to get a DJ remix…

    • buddhistronin 8:46 pm on November 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Been there done that! Maybe it is our often overly aggressive response to the smallest things that causes us to be treated as tourest. Thais have general acceptance of most things. We westerners are certainly not like that. Good post!

    • kadynomlid 4:18 pm on December 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Awesome place to be! Have fun!

    • anextraordinaryandordinarylifeblog 10:31 am on December 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Hi,nice post
      Im seeing myself in what you wrote,finding the balance,finding the balance,that nice feeling of pracefulness,you feel it one time and then you do as much you can to get back there
      Im not religious but I feel that Buddhism is the closest to explain what life is

      • hardie karges 4:19 pm on December 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks! I appreciate the feedback, nice to know that I’m connecting with someone sometimes…

  • hardie karges 7:52 am on November 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , branding, , , , , , , Thailand, ,   

    The 49 Flavors of American Buddhism… 

    img_1936In the old days of Nikaya Buddhism, in India, before the Common Era, there were at least seventeen schools of Buddhism, chiefly Sthviravada-derived (including Theravada, Sammatiya, Sautrantika, Savarvastivada, Mulasarvastivada, etc.), and Mahasanghika-derived (Yogacara, Madhyamika, etc.), before finally settling into the three broad Theravada, Mahayana, and Tibetan-Esoteric-Vajrayana-Mantrayana ‘schools’ that we know today. Get the picture? Buddhists are not known for doctrinal agreement…

    Neither is Amerika known for its agreements, especially where Buddhist knowledge and tradition is almost totally lacking, so open to much doctrinal obfuscation and outright perjury, since the Buddha is currently hipper than sh*t, and abuse is rife. So cannabis conventions, openly proffering THC and other cannabinoids as ‘medical marijuana’ can call themselves ‘Buddhafest’ with no repercussions and likely increases in ticket sales as if such is recommended by the Big Guy himself—it isn’t, and strictly prohibited, in fact… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 5:47 am on October 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: breath, , , itch, , , , Thailand, Vipassana   

    Buddhism and the Meditation Itchy-Scratchies: Peace of Mind, Peace of body… 

    img_2116You know the routine: position cushion on the floor, position butt on the cushion, position body on the butt spine straight crack shoulders eyes closed breath focus nose focus navel focus nothing nothing breathing breathing breath breath in out in out breathe breathe hmmmm… hmmmm… breath… hmmmm… hmmmm… Donald Trump….. hmmmm… moron… hmmm… breath… hmmm… Mormon… hmmm… Buddho… hmmm… ice cream… yummm… hmmm… Buddho… hmmm… salsa… hmmmm… afrocubism… hmmmm… Pablo Picasso… hmmmm…  Matisse… hmmm… mind wandering… hmmm… wandering… hmmm…  Buddho… hmmm… breath… hmmm…

    When I first started meditating in northern Thailand my mother-in-law would ask me, “Have you calmed your mind yet?”

    Calm my mind? I’m still trying to calm my body…” (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:19 am on September 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , Hindu, , Noble Truth, , , , Thailand   

    First Noble Truth of Buddhism: It’s a Heartache… 

    IMG_2290

    …and that’s about as accurate as any translation of the Pali word dukkha as any other, certainly better than the ‘stress’ or ‘discomfort’ or whatever currently making the rounds in Buddhist blurbs online and elsewhere, anything but ‘suffering’, the traditional and still most accurate definition. We’re talking about a metaphysical level of suffering here, after all, or at least existential, the kind that envelops you in its inimitable embrace, and lets you know exactly where you stand, or fall, which is usually somewhere nearby and knowable, so treatable…

    The newer ‘stress’-full definition of dukkha suggests a modern post-capitalist phase that the Buddha himself could hardly have imagined back in the classic Upanishadic era of pre-colonial India, actually post-colonial if you count Aryans as intruders, and not the high-class homeboy Brahmins that they usually like to see themselves as. They brought as many chariots, horses, cows and racism as they ever brought religion, more like high plains cowboys than the meditative masters that we now see them as (though they did have good drugs—I hear)… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:13 am on February 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Mahasi, , , retreat, Thailand, Wat Suan Mokh, Yangon   

    Buddhist Boot Camp Comparison, part II: Suan Mokh vs. Mahasi… 

    img_1935

    Foreign meditators at Mahasi

    Author’s note: For those of you who read my blogs regularly, then you might remember that I did this once before, with Wat Suan Mokh near Surat Thani, Thailand, and Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal, here. But those are two different types of Buddhism, so as different as apples and oranges, really. Mahasi Monastery in Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar (Burma), is the same Theravada branch of Buddhism as Suan Mokh, so closer in orientation. And for my traveler’s perspective of Mahasi, here

    img_1936

    Meditation at Mahasi

    Of course, not everything fits conveniently into a quick little list, so I’ll explain, expand and expound. WSM has fixed sessions on the first ten days of every month, so just show up the day before and sign up, no pre-registration. MM is even less formal. Just show up any morning and sign up. I suppose either could be full, so no space available, but not sure of that. Sessions at MM are ongoing, minimum ten days, but many stay MUCH longer, up to six months, with ordination as monk a possibility. Normal Myanmar visa is 28 days BTW, though longer ‘meditation visas’ are available.

    WSM’s program is more elaborately presented and diverse, with certain hours in the daily schedule devoted to exercises, listening to CD, dharma talks, etc., in addition to meditation. MM is mostly DIY, alternating sitting and walking meditation on the hour all day every day. For a novice, this is nearly impossible, of course, so if you want to play hooky, just stay in your room. I was hassled once for reading in the common area, when I was supposed to be in the group meditation hall meditating. Walking meditation is more free-form, so take a break then…

    img_1928

    Lunch at Mahasi

    WSM is part of the Thai Forest Tradition, which gives it an environmental orientation that is quiet, refreshing and sustainable, while Mahasi is within the boundaries of a large city, so necessarily busier and noisier, with frequent visitors from the city and taxis coming and going, in addition to construction activity for current expansion, so MUCH NOISIER…

    Interaction with others is a mixed bag. On the one hand WSM has monks sitting in on sessions, meditation and otherwise, but mostly meditating, and thus giving valuable inspiration on how it’s done. This blew my mind at the time. Conversely, while MM has hundreds of monks and nuns in residence, they have little or no interaction with foreign yogis. There are weekly dharma talks and twice-weekly interviews with the sayadaw-gyi, but that is hardly equivalent to the hands-on SM experience.

    The dharma being espoused is a bit different, too, though both are of the Theravada Buddhist tradition. This I know only because I made the effort to read materials available in MM common areas, which SM has none of, but compensate with CD listening sessions. But MM seems very stuck in the old fundamentalist Buddhism of past lives and karma, which was a big disappointment to me. SM, on the other hand, is more modern, and founder Buddhadhasa is a leader in steering modern Buddhism away from those old fundamentalist modes…

    img_0871

    Wat Suan Mokh

    But where WSM falls severely short is in the facilities themselves, with rooms resembling prison cells in not even the best of prisons, while MM has much more modern facilities. The splash-pools that pass for common baths at SM look like something from science fiction, so interesting, but not up to the modern standards of private showers. This ain’t Boy Scout camp. SM may be fine for ten days, but any longer than that might not be so good…

    So here’s the skinny. Here’s the fat. I’ll compare the two briefly on a number of topics, basic stats mostly. One caveat: I personally attended the Thai-language session at Suan Mokh, but I’ve tried to corroborate information from the foreigners’ English-language session, hopefully correct. Okay? Here goes:

    1. Food: SM is vegetarian with brown rice; MM has a vegetarian option by request
    2. Gadgets: SM holds phones and laptops (and passports); MM holds only passports
    3. Ambience: SM is in the countryside; MM is in the city
    4. Duration: SM is a fixed 11 days, 10 nights; MM is minimum 10 days, 9 nights
    5. In/Out privileges: SM not sure;, assume no; MM only by special request
    6. Hands-on Instruction: SM yes; MM no, not really
    7. Cost: SM 2000 THB ($60+/-); MM donations accepted
    8. Daily Schedule: SM 4a-9p; MM 4a-9p
    9. Rooms: SM basic room, communal bath; MM nicer room, bath down the hall
    10. Meals: SM breakfast and lunch, liquids in afternoon; MM two meals
    11. Sex: SM has M/F sep. facilities, mixed classes; MM: M/F separate all

    So there is no clear winner. In general, I’d say that WSM is better for novice and/or short-term stays, MM better for long-term DIY and/or experienced meditators. I particularly like WSM’s prayer chanting sessions, which for me is as much or more the heart of Buddhism as meditation. And the hot springs are nice, too (after I finished cleaning them). But the rooms suck. I’ve got a better idea: try both. Both Thailand and Burma have many other meditation centers as well. I hope this helps. Enjoy.

     
  • hardie karges 4:47 pm on January 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Thailand   

    Thai Buddhism Outback Up North, part 4: Three Questions, Two Uncertainties, a Wish and a Promise… 

    Continued from here

    Kwan Yin Fest near Chiang Dao, Thailand

    Kwan Yin Fest near Chiang Dao, Thailand

    So again I’m having doubts about my direction, after I’d convinced myself that the past lives and karmic retribution of Tibetan Buddhism, which I can’t support, are not an issue in the Theravada system. I guess I should get all Zen-like and mock Kung Fu-ish right about now with something wise and philosophical from my imaginary guru, like maybe: “Cricket, don’t worry about the details, or you’ll never be a good monk anyway. You have a path now, and the path will lead you where you are to go…”

    Yeah, that sounds about right. There is no turning back from this path, this Buddhist path, however the details play out. My increasingly healthy meditation practice will be the proof and the foundation for that. So what if I occasionally flash back on the Playboy Playmate from December 1969? She was cute, it was cold, and I was young. I’ve still got a Suzi Quatro song stuck in there from 1978, too…

    And so what if I look like a pile of lumber spilled from the Home Depot truck until I get ‘warmed up’ meditating? So what if it takes a backhoe to unlock and untangle me once I do? At least that backhoe won’t be necessary to back-fill the logic necessary to convince myself I’m happy when I’m really not, gorging myself with ‘stuff’ in an American society of consumeristic orgy (orgiastic consumerism?)… (More …)

     
    • kc 10:37 pm on January 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      join the clubs, forming in the hundreds of like minded people. Millsaps is offering a course to re-guide one to one’s what, emptiness? Also have on-line far away friends wanting to skype and study. remember that teaching is indeed a most noble profession, and certainly learning never ends. looking for folk art, found $ in my account that i did not expect and not wanting to try and teach r more tech. that he will not get. so art, yes. send art, $ cd not hurt, you can always give it away, i surely do. much love.

    • davekingsbury 1:28 pm on January 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Reminds me in part of the Keats bio by Andrew Motion I’m reading – 600 pages for such a short life! – and it’s fascinating to follow his discovery that pain and pleasure/sadness and happiness are really one and the same or at least 2 sides of the same coin, no one without the other. I’m trying to feel the same about life/death but not there yet!

  • hardie karges 11:35 pm on December 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Thailand   

    Jet-Lag Diaries, part 2: Graduating Thai School–in Buddhism… 

    Continued from here

    img_1400Back in Thailand the king is dead, so all other plans are automatically on hold. The temples are now full of temporary monks, so my own meager plans are secondary. My temple priest once told me it’s up to my own heart, and so it is, I must say, even if I have to pay to play. But if I can meditate in a moving plane and meditate on a moving bus, then I must be moving toward something real and good, is it not? I think it must be: I meditate, therefore I am…

    If I’d left my practice of holy writ and dharma for a month, or longer, then I’d have to start over by design and definition, would I not? But that didn’t happen, so the details of any future ordination are unimportant, best left to the dealers and traders, and not the midnight meditators. So if my shitty little revelations and pissy little epiphanies have to wait another week, or month, or year, or decade, for my eminent imminent ordination, then so be it. The world has waited a few millennia already… (More …)

     
    • davekingsbury 2:51 pm on December 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      A succinct summation here …

      “To wit: if you’re Western and/or Christian, then the glass is half full, and the object of life is to full the sucker up. If you’re Eastern and/or Buddhist, then the glass is half-empty, and the object is to drain the damn thing, then enjoy the non-show of silence.”

      No words …

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