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Buddhism and Nietzsche - Dhamma Wheel

Buddhism and Nietzsche

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Kusala
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Buddhism and Nietzsche

Postby Kusala » Sat Nov 17, 2012 7:59 am

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"He, the Blessed One, is indeed the Noble Lord, the Perfectly Enlightened One;
He is impeccable in conduct and understanding, the Serene One, the Knower of the Worlds;
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained; he is Teacher of gods and men; he is Awake and Holy. "

--------------------------------------------
"The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One,
Apparent here and now, timeless, encouraging investigation,
Leading to liberation, to be experienced individually by the wise. "

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Sam Vara
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Re: Buddhism and Nietzsche

Postby Sam Vara » Sat Nov 17, 2012 7:33 pm


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daverupa
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Re: Buddhism and Nietzsche

Postby daverupa » Sat Nov 17, 2012 7:36 pm


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DAWN
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Re: Buddhism and Nietzsche

Postby DAWN » Sat Nov 17, 2012 7:42 pm

Deleted :smile:
Last edited by DAWN on Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...

nem
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Re: Buddhism and Nietzsche

Postby nem » Sun Nov 18, 2012 5:17 am

I must say Nietzsche had a profound impact on my life, quite the opposite of the Bhudda.
In 2003, I began a study of Beyond Good and Evil and also Genealogy of Morals. After reading these books several times, I became convinced that 'there is nothing' and that any moral code is simply for the weak. That morality and ideas of good and evil, are part of an effort to keep people like me (like I was) from feeling free to do what we want to do. In a Genealogy of Morals, as I remember it was put forth that 'good' had been defined since the earliest times as whatever the powerful did, and 'bad' was anything that the weak or poor people did who differentiated them from the powerful or rich. In this way, he turned it into a class struggle issue and totally wiped away the idea that there is any real utility to morals, any karma, any effect of deeds. You can make a strong argument for doing almost anything from the standpoint of his teachings.

After becoming indoctrinated in this, I became totally cold, heartless, closeminded and basically did all kinds of immoral things. It was only after the effects harmed other people, and then finally harmed me, that I finally realized that Nietzsche was teaching a doctrine that works in some fantasy, where there are no consequences to our actions, while I live in an experience where the consequences are real and often immediate. The error of his teachings aside, he has to be the most egotistical author to ever touch pen to paper and this alone was almost intolerable and shows his ignorance of the Dhamma. It seemed that perhaps 25% of his words were dedicated to the glorification of the philosopher as a supreme example of human perfection. :zzz: All this need for self-glorification calls into question the validity of his teaching, as if the content of the teaching alone could not show its worth. As a young 20-something, hearing his teachings without sufficient life experience to know where they lead, I did so many bad things by using his philosophy as an 'out' or 'excuse' to run rampant. I hope this isn't something that people are typically reading, it's interesting but it's a hindrance.

I also did note that everything was very 'Westernized.' I often thought, why is he constantly hacking away the supports of Christianity and Judaism and speaking of Europe? He speaks of a philosophy that would apply to the whole world if true, but it's like he typically forgets any cultures outside the West. He needed to show that everyone else is wrong, in order to make his idea work, not just the Westerners. The Bhudda is not so easy to hack at, because his teaching is good in the beginning, good in the middle, good in the end with the right wording and phrasing to stand the test. So Nietzsche never seemed to follow down that path too much, a slippery slope for him, he might have fallen in the Dhamma! Would have made my life easier, if he'd thrown all his manuscripts in the trash. But being deluded by his ideas, and coming out of it, is part of my development, so...
Last edited by nem on Sun Nov 18, 2012 5:44 am, edited 7 times in total.

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Re: Buddhism and Nietzsche

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Nov 18, 2012 5:34 am

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.

nem
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Re: Buddhism and Nietzsche

Postby nem » Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:18 am


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Kusala
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Re: Buddhism and Nietzsche

Postby Kusala » Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:39 am

Image

"He, the Blessed One, is indeed the Noble Lord, the Perfectly Enlightened One;
He is impeccable in conduct and understanding, the Serene One, the Knower of the Worlds;
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained; he is Teacher of gods and men; he is Awake and Holy. "

--------------------------------------------
"The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One,
Apparent here and now, timeless, encouraging investigation,
Leading to liberation, to be experienced individually by the wise. "

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zavk
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Re: Buddhism and Nietzsche

Postby zavk » Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:17 am

I too am curious about reading Buddhism alongside Nietzsche. But since such an exercise requires some effort, I shall refrain from making any claims about specific arguments—I say this not so much to imply anything about others' capacity or interest (or lack thereof) in doing the same; I'm just admitting my lack of proficiency, for now at least.

Nevertheless, what I'd like to point out here is that whether we engage in comparative reading exercises like this one or not, we are always and already taking a particular interpretation of Buddhism. That this is the case does not make one's position or preferred interpretation inherently 'suspect' or 'flawed', but it does raise the question of how critically reflexive we are about the assertions we make.

With regards to the question of whether certain Buddhist ideas are consonant with Nietzschean ideas or not: I'd say that it is counter-productive to insist that our current modern understanding offers us a kind of 'neutral' or 'objective' ground for evaluation, because contemporary, especially 'Western', interpretations of Buddhism emerged out of a historical context in which the discourses of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, amongst others, set the frameworks of understanding through which 'modern' and subsequently 'Western' Buddhism are refracted.

Whether we choose to engage in a cross comparative reading exercise or not, our Buddhist understanding today is not as 'pure' or 'un-coloured' by other modes of thinking as we would like to believe. And mindfulness of this is important, if we wish to learn about Buddhism and not just reinforce a bad narcissistic habit (a habit that everyone suffers from, myself included) of speaking to ourselves of ourselves and about ourselves, even as we claim to speak for and about 'Buddhism'.

:anjali:
With metta,
zavk

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zavk
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Re: Buddhism and Nietzsche

Postby zavk » Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:16 am

Hi all

Ok... this thread has caught my attention. As it turns out, I'm engaging with certain Nietzschean themes in my work at the moment. So if I may share some of my thoughts for collective consideration. I'm not an expert on Nietzsche as such but I think there may be certain questions provoked by his thinking that warrants attention. I am not seeking to argue for the a 'fit' between Nietzschean and Buddhist thought—this will always be a limited exercise because they are both very DIFFERENT modes of knowledge-practices. If anything, such comparative exercises are more about exploring the 'shared spirit' or 'ethos' or 'attitude'. And this is how I'd like to offer the following thoughts...

Nietzsche is most (in)famous for his proclamation of the 'death of God'. This, however, ought NOT be read as a atheistic statement about the non-existence of 'God'. Rather, what it refers to is the collapse of the framework of authority which has allowed (Western) man (I'm not using gender neutral language because of the historical privilege accorded to masculinity) to comfort himself with metaphysical certitude. What the 'death of God' says is that it is no longer possible for us to expect any shelter or stable ground of metaphysical certitude. Nietzsche wasn't the only one to talk about the 'death of God'. Feuerbach and Hegel too explored the idea but took the view that Reason and human conscience would replace 'God'. The Nieztschean interpretation refuses to posit this, NOT because it rejects our capacity for reasoning or because it suggests that we don't have to act on good conscience, but because it recognises that this risk replacing the Absolute Ideal of 'God' with another Absolute Ideal of Reason/Man. Nietzsche's refusal to posit what replaces the absence of God, to my reading, is not unlike the Buddha's refusal to respond to Vacchagotta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


There is a question here in relation to Buddhism that we could ask. With the humanisation of the Buddha, demythologisation of traditional Buddhist outlooks, and rationalist approach we have developed—do we need to be mindful of whether we have slipped in through the back door a certain ideal of Reason or Man as a replacement of the Absolute Ideal of 'God'? Are we introducing another subtle 'True Self'? I don't have the answer but I think it is important to always be mindful of this.

[to be continued in next post].
Last edited by zavk on Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
With metta,
zavk

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zavk
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Re: Buddhism and Nietzsche

Postby zavk » Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:25 am

Last edited by zavk on Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
With metta,
zavk

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Ben
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Re: Buddhism and Nietzsche

Postby Ben » Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:30 am

Well said, Ed!
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Javi
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Re: Buddhism and Nietzsche

Postby Javi » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:54 pm

Yea great post! From what I have read of Nietzsche I think his views are definitely close to Nagarjuna's conception of emptiness though making comparisons of two such difficult thinkers one must tread carefully since interpretations of both vary widely. His entire philosophy is definitely difficult to interpret because his writings are all over the place. I think that people who see him as a nihilist or amoralist do him a disservice though. Nietzsche is at his strongest when describing the existential dukkha of the post modern post Christian west. Still important especially for those in the USA since the death of god has only just recently become a big issue. All in all, Nietzsche is engaged in a sort of soteriological project similar to Buddhism in the sense that his target is the suffering caused by the death of god and a path of transcendence that leads out of that. He is just coming from a classical Greek perspective that looks back to Homer and pre Socratics like Heraclitus.
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Tārakā timiraṃ dīpo māyāvaśyāya budbudaḥ supinaṃ vidyud abhraṃ ca evaṃ draṣṭavya saṃskṛtam — A shooting star, a clouding of the sight, a lamp, An illusion, a drop of dew, a bubble, A dream, a lightning’s flash, a thunder cloud — This is the way one should see the conditioned — Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

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zavk
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Re: Buddhism and Nietzsche

Postby zavk » Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:11 am

With metta,
zavk


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