Archive for October, 2008

Shakespearean Buddha

October 22, 2008

To my mentor, H.

As far back as I can remember, I used to get this sensation of utter despair whenever my mind wandered to thoughts of existence. I mean, when thinking about where this All comes from, and what is going to happen when the Universe ends. I abandoned God when I was a pre-teenager, so maybe this was part of the residue:)

It was quite painful to contemplate, occurring mainly in the evenings when I would be in bed. Nowhere to run! I could no longer occupy my self with the usual whirring of work and reading and talking and…It was similar to a toothache, actually, in that it hit a nerve, somewhere in my brain.

I’m sure many have experienced this. There is even a French School named for it:)

Major relief was provided some years ago when a certain H. told me the only thing he knew about Zen Buddhism. I do not recall the exact words, but effectively he said that when we look up at the night sky, we see stars. They’re just stars. It had quite an effect on me. That night I went out and held my arms raised against the sky. It felt like I was connecting with something. And, yes, I saw stars. As though for the first time.

It calmed my mind tremendously. That sensation is no longer overwhelming when I occassionally do experience it (For more on this topic, refer to Osho’s book ‘Intuition’).

I was reminded of it on Saturday while watching the movie ‘Good Night and Good Luck’ about Ed Morrow. In it they quoted Shakespeare:

Cassius: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves…”

The Bard Buddha. The Buddhist Bard.

While I am here rambling on matters non-material, I remarked recently that my two favourite philosophers, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein, had in common that they were both hospital orderlies during a war in their era.

Now I think there is another link: Nietzsche’s famed ‘Übermensch’ is premised on the idea of what we are Becoming. Just as the tree is what the sand, water and sunshine are becoming, so too, the Übermensch (that is, incidentally, also of the earth) is what we are becoming.

The connection to Wittgenstein is the latter’s statement that the meaning of a word is in its use (he may not have been the first to say this, I agree, but it was central to his language arguments). So, simplistically, the lever is the use of a stick, somehow. So I want to say: the lever is what the stick is becoming.

Or is that saying too much? Should we rather pass over in silence?