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Thread: A Nietzsche quote about thinking and ego

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  1. #1
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    A Nietzsche quote about thinking and ego

    Hello guys!

    So I'm (trying) to read through Nietzsche's "beoynd good and evil", for me it's a hard task. Most of the time it feels like the old man is speakling in pure riddles.

    Anyway, I came through a passage where he is talking about thoughts and ego and I'd like to share it with you all.

    "With regard to the superstitions of logicians, I shall never tire of emphasizing a small, terse fact, which is unwillingly recognized by these credulous minds—namely, that a thought comes when "it" wishes, and not when "I" wish; so that it is a PERVERSION of the facts of the case to say that the subject "I" is the condition of the predicate "think." ONE thinks; but that this "one" is precisely the famous old "ego," is, to put it mildly, only a supposition, an assertion, and assuredly not an "immediate certainty."

    This seems pretty legit to me, what do you all say?

    Nietzsche is said to be one of the first philosophers that fits into the 'philosophy' existentialism. And it's very non-dogmatic. I'm sure u all know about it. It feels like its a step into the right direction from westerners, a step into the right direction, to the east.

  2. #2
    Hi Neo,

    Hmmm.

    Maybe we could ask where did Nietzsche come from, where did he go? When he was not thinking? When I was thinking?

    When Nietzsche is not thinking of me, where do I go? When I am not thinking of Nietzsche, where does Nietzsche go?

    I sometimes describe aspects of Zen Practice as existentialism ... living life as it comes ... lives being lived by life ... life living life as it comes ... yet with a rather Positive twist for all that (none of that bleak nihilism of some of Sartre.)

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post120234

    (Feeling that especially today, as my children's eyes, my wife and my eyes, are filled with tears for our little cat who died today).

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-22-2014 at 12:53 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Member Liang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    (none of that bleak nihilism of some of Sartre.)
    Jundo (or anyone else), I had a side question about "existentialism" in relation to the idea of non-attainment and just sitting. I used to be a big Sartre and Kierkegaard fan and saw the primary purpose of human existence to find meaning. The problem that I see now though is that any meaning you find/create in your mind is going to be unfullfilling. Either it will be too attainable such as becoming a doctor (then once you get your degrees and years later what do you do?) or not attainable enough such as living up perfectly to religious laws. Trying to chase meaning is going to let you down in the end and only by letting go of the need of meaning and letting life and you be as they are can you have fulfillment. Is this on the right track?

    Neo: Nietzsche is definitely found of riddles and odd analogies. That's why he is so often mistaken for being a nihilist or racist and so on. I've read beyond good and evil and the genealogy of morals. We had a philosophy professor who claimed to have correct interpretation of his writings and everyone else was wrong and I don't think he was right Very tough and interesting stuff. Have you read Thus Spoke Zarathustra? I love it as its very poetic, but don't understand much of it all! I'm interested in what you guys have to say.

    Gassho, Fred
    Last edited by Liang; 01-22-2014 at 01:50 AM.

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    Jundo, I just read 'opening the hand of thought' some time ago. And it strikes me, some of the similarities that Uchiyama shares with some of the existential teachers. He talks about having no control over very much things, like birth place. You get thrown into this world (Heidegger), and there's a lot of things you cannot change, but still you have some personal freedom to create a life.

    I'm sure I need to read more, and above all, I need to sit more. But I'm sometimes scared to the nihilistic feelings I get from reading some dharma-teachings. Especially listening to hardcore spiritual guys like Tolle or Adyashanti. I still want to create, make something of my life. I'm sure I just got the wrong understanding about Buddhism but. Buddha did something with his life, he created a well structured 'organisation' - something that became a world religion.

    Sorry about all rubbish, I just have alot of my mind. I can get no clarity about how to live my life. The Western ego on the one hand, how all my friends (20-30 years old) live here in Sweden, Buddha on the other hand, how I deep down feel like the only way to lasting peace is to be lived.

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    .. and I'm sorry about your cat. I'm sure it will be a great teaching to your child about the impermancence of the world though.

  6. #6
    Hi Neo,

    Buddhism is not a pessimistic philosophy, and is about sitting and living right on the vibrant edge of life. It is not about suffering ... it is about Liberation from Suffering.

    It is at moments like this that I know. I am sitting here with a totally broken heart and tears in my eyes (I have had little animals in the past, yet never a connection in my heart like with this silly one) ... yet, at the same time, as tears fall, there is a smile on my lips and a sensation of Peace. Peace as the broken pieces. Liberation from Suffering ... even though not from a life's pain.

    Don't be unclear, don't be nihilistic. Be clear, be creative, be alive. Everyday ... happy day, sad day, good day, bad day ... Everyday is a Good Day.



    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-22-2014 at 01:47 AM.
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    I know it's not! But Schopenhauer's (the Western buddha) philosophy is said to be pessimistic, only in a Western view. But according to how I'm raised, in this capitalistic society, it is pessimistic, from this view. And it's the wrong view! But I'm raised this way, it's hard to see through the Illusions of needing to 'BECOME SOMEBODY' when that's how I'm hard wired to live.

    I will sit today. For your little cat and for trying to drop the nihilistic feelings.

    thanks.

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    hello Fred, I'll just call you that.

    Im stuck between these 'camps', the buddhistic and the existentional. How about non-attachment just sitting and be happy, still doing something with your life. Becoming a doctor to help other people, learning to play guitar for the social pleasures? For me becoming a teacher to be able to help young people on the 'right' track in life. Not to do things for the glory of it, just because you enjoy it.

    Im trying hard to let buddhistic philosophy merge with existential thoughts.

    Nietzsche was nihilistic a period of his life. Later on he described nihilism as a 'pathway' to the ubermensch, or the higher man. For what I've come to understand.

    As I said, I'm reading beyond good and evil now, and it's really hard. I'm sure I will have to read it again in the future, some parts is very hard to grasp for me. He's making fun about old philosophers like Kant, Plato etc. and you will have to have a great understanding about those guys philosophies as well to get along :-) I've not read any original work by Nietzsche, this is my first. Tough I've read some books about his life and about his world. And I've watched endless videos about him and existentialism on youtube.

    It feels like we are into the same kind of though process here. How long have you been into zen (buddhism)?

  9. #9
    Member Liang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neo View Post
    hello Fred, I'll just call you that.
    Neo, Please do. I was trying to be too clever when I made my username and have been relieved to find a minimal amount of koans and head smacking here.

    Jundo, thank you, yes fulfillment is not complacency. I have more questions about this in regards to moral action and about sitting versus seeking Satori, but I think Ango and preparing for Jukai would be a good time to go deeper into those things. I need more practice in sitting before I can tackle them. "Meaning and Fulfillment are all around and everywhere ... fulfilled or unfulfilled" is really profound and I will definitely try to sit with that for a while.

    P.S. I am grateful to have a teacher willing to share not only his wisdom and insight but also share with us in his losses. I will be thinking of you, your family, and your cat.

    Neo: I've only been studying Zen for a month. I think you are smarter than me if you even understand a little bit of Heidegger, but maybe if I had actually gone to class
    I'd be happy to PM and chat about philosophy anytime, but the short version of my journey is that I was a devout Christian (enroute to the ministry at one point) and gravitated towards a Christian existentialism best embodied by Kierkegaard and like he talks taking a blind leap, felt that I had to have faith that there was a meaning (God) in this apparently meaningless world. Problem was that Christianity is such a conversion religion and overtime the faith waned and I found myself just not knowing. So I was agnostic/philosophical Taoist for a while until I found Zen which embraces that not-knowing!

    Gassho, Fred
    Last edited by Liang; 01-22-2014 at 03:02 AM.

  10. #10
    I believe that Zen is Meaning. In Zazen, we sit as Total Meaning, All Attained.

    Hard to explain in words, but a sense of Complete Fulfillment and Being in the Right Place and Time!

    That being said, Zen "sitting there" is not "just sitting there" ... and we get up from the cushion and get on with life.

    How to say it? Suppose one does want to become a doctor: It is a hard climb up the mountain to get there ... bottom of the mountain is Right Place and Time, middle of the mountain is Right Place and Time, top of the mountain is Right Place and Time.

    Top, middle, bottom of mountain all Buddha ... all Buddha climbing Buddha.

    If starting toward being a doctor ... just be that, Totally Fulfilled.

    If already a doctor ... just be that Totally Fulfulled (Totally Fulfilled ... Big "T" & "F" ... even if and when the career sometimes proves totally unfulfilling! )

    If (like me) never going to be a doctor or to have any chance of being one ... just be that Totally Fulfulled.

    If broken hearted ... Totally Fulfilled.

    Meaning and Fulfillment are all around and everywhere ... fulfilled or unfulfilled.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-22-2014 at 02:07 AM.
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    broken, young and poor. Keep beeing broken and poor and fulfilled with that? I was at the edge of the 'broken and poor' mountain at the right time.

    Damnit, somehow I just can't seem to let go of my desires tonight, even though I know them to be illusions. It's late in cold Sweden, I have to sleep.

    Thanks for your poetic answer Jundo, It helps even though my attitude is a bit low these days.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Neo View Post
    broken, young and poor. Keep beeing broken and poor and fulfilled with that? I was at the edge of the 'broken and poor' mountain at the right time.
    Well, keep working for some goal. Keep looking for someone to love. I can't promise things will get better, but good chance if you keep your eyes and heart open.

    Be Fulfilled even when life seems unfulfilling, even when Buddhism and Buddhist Teachers seem full of shit, and your heart overflows with longing and dissatisfaction (being "BIG F" Fulfilled and "small u" unfulfilled at once). I hope you become old and content.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-22-2014 at 02:42 AM.
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    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Thank you for the posts Jundo, and Metta to you and your family. A pet's passing can hit just as hard as when a person dies.

    Traces of Zen can be found in many philosophies. Existentialists eluded to it. Descartes did also at times, as well as the Stoics of ancient Greece. Odds are it's the universality of the Eightfold path, the Three Marks of Existence and Zen's emphasis on acceptance and mindfulness which have made it partially accessible to thinkers throughout the ages . So, philosophers have picked up on bits and pieces of the puzzle, filling in the blanks with their own views. A profound difference you'll see between Zen and existentialism Neo is in regards to self. Existentialists raise the self up to the level of a god, believing that a fully realized person can be the master of all. That is very "un-Zen." In Buddhism the self is said of course to be and not be simultaneously. We can improve ourselves, but there is nothing to improve. Hume and Berkeley touched on the philosophy of no-self with immaterialism (once again, bits and pieces).

    As it's been said, existentialism has a close relationship with nihilism, which Buddha gravely spoke against as incomplete, just as eternalism is incomplete. Eternalism believes in, "is," nihilism believes, "is not." Zen: "is and is not." So, from a westerner's point of view Zen could be seen as a marriage between immaterialism and Gestalt. A kind of, "There is no whole, and it's greater than the sum of it's parts." Even that's not quite right though. Zen is Zen. The Middle Way.

    Gassho, John
    Last edited by Nameless; 01-22-2014 at 03:38 AM.

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    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Hi Fred and Neo,

    I suggest picking up Hee Jin Kim's Mystical Realist. It is a clear exposition of Dogen's view of Zen without much Zen speak. It may be easier to digest for you guys interested in philosophy. As a non-humanities major, I found the text a tad bit difficult to read, but very fulfilling. One passage I remember very clearly was that to Dogen, shikantaza was the flesh and blood manifestation for his search for the meaning of life, which he ironically found to be already enough.

    There's so much more stuff there that helped me ease into the Soto way of doing things. However, practice is eternal. So musn't ever forget that... unless you're already sitting. In which case you just sit.

    P.s.
    How do you think not thinking?
    Non-thinking
    How do you desire not desire?
    Non-desire

    Gassho, Ben
    Last edited by Tiwala; 01-22-2014 at 08:11 AM.
    Gassho
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    Thanks for your answer nameless.

    I'm reading right now about existentialism and I'm trying to develop my own philosophy with zen (buddha) and the western way of 'making something of your self', trying to help this world out somehow, leaving a mark. I think they are compatible to combine with each other. At least maybe at the end of my studies, I will on my own see that I was wrong/right. I somehow really like Nietzsche's concept of growth, will to power, becoming who you are and 'find what you love and die for it', and just sit in the midst of this ride of impermanence, lol. just let life live me..

    Fred, I've been studying Buddhism for many years now. Though I'm bad at the sitting part, it comes in periods. But I really feel deep down that the non-attachment aspect is the right one for lasting peace due to the impermancence in the world. So to become someone, do something, and expect everlasting happiness at the end ain't gonna do. Just do it for the doing and the compassion it bring others, and always set new and more goals. Just as the famous zen-statement 'When you get to the top of the mountain, keep climbing'.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    Hi Fred and Neo,

    I suggest picking up Hee Jin Kim's Mystical Realist. It is a clear exposition of Dogen's view of Zen without much Zen speak. It may be easier to digest for you guys interested in philosophy.
    Yes, that and another book by Prof. Kim (Dogen on Meditation and Thinking) are well recommended as two of the best examinations of Dogen's ways. Not fast and light reading, however.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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    I'll keep an eye open for Hee Jin Kim book as well, but I should probably get another shot on the shobogenzo first

  18. #18
    Hi Neo,

    I read a lot of Nietzsche in the past. This is really something to work with...

    One important note about this: Make sure which edition you read!
    When Nietzsche became sick, his sister took over charge and edited some things in his works. For example she gave the impression that the book "The Will to Power" would be Nietzsche's main work - however, it was just a compilation of various fragments containg serious decipherment mistakes...

    Unfortunately, I can't tell you the correct English edition, for our German readers the following is the version that can be fully trusted:
    http://www.nietzschesource.org/

    That's all of Nietzsche's works online for free (legal), including a lot of handwritten notes.

    Schopenhauer's "The World as Will and Representation" might be a good starting point, before reading Nietzsche.
    Nietzsche actually started out as a kind of fan of Schopenhauer's, but later wanted to overcome S.'s pessimism.

    All of this is not necessary for our path though, just an interesting read if you can spare the time.

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    no thing needs to be added

  19. #19
    Hi there - trying not to get too 'way - laid' by philosophy just now but would like to add a couple of thoughts.

    Hee-Jin Kim's book, as mentioned, is definately worth a read but I have to say I did find it took a lot of concentration and I need to read it again. His central point - that Dogen needs to be read against his own cultural time is key though. That doesn't mean we can't appropriate from Dogen - we can and do - but the way Dogen is coming at what we might term 'phenomenology' is not (IMHO) the way in which Western philosophy comes at it.

    The western philosopher who came closest (again in IMHO) is Husserl - but what I've gained from reading Husserl is how wide of the mark western philosophy can be.

    For anyone snagged up on existentialism I highly recommend Keiji Nishitani's 'Religion and Nothingness'. Again, this is not an easy text - but the Kyoto School of Philosophy really grappled with existentialism in a most interesting and illuminating way.

    Happy philosophizing and don't forget to 'sit' because it's really important to let all this stuff fall away and not dominate one's thoughts.

    Gassho

    Willow

  20. #20
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willow View Post
    Happy philosophizing and don't forget to 'sit' because it's really important to let all this stuff fall away and not dominate one's thoughts.

    Gassho

    Willow
    That was pretty close to what I wanted to write. Thank you, Willow.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Shuso and Ango leader for September 2014.

    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

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  21. #21
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Taikyo, any thoughts? ( after all , you know more about this stuff than anyone lese here)

    and of course, you dn't know anything...

    gassho


    T.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

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    thanks for all answers.

    Yeah, I know he was very inspired by Schopenhauer, both of his philosophy and Schopenhauer way of living, and I can't really understand right now how, or why, he abandoned his ideas later on, that's something I'm trying to figure out now. Schopenhauer was very inspired from the eastern doctrines of oneness and suffering.

    I will keep studying both Buddhism and existential philosophy on my own to see where it's taking me! I'm sure that I'll come to the conclusion in the end just sit and go kiss the rain

  23. #23
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    Taigu, thank you very much for the commentary on the ox herding pictures. I'm part way thru. The seeker and the seeking aren't it. This is an excellent response to the existentialist quest and to my own search for answers. Thank you for your teaching!

    Gassho, Fred

  24. #24
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Philosophy is important but books and authors can get you only so far.

    What's philosophy good for if you don't live with kindness and compassion in your heart?

    How can one understand philosophy without zazen?

    I read. I sit and be silent.

    Therefore we exist.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
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    To be honest, philosophy can help you to compassion and kindness as well. There's a thing called buddhist philosophy,. I'm sure you all read some of that.
    Last edited by Neo; 01-22-2014 at 11:00 PM.

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    Neo, talking about the merits of philosophy reminded me of a moment when I was working as a low level corporate wage slave doing customer service. Several months in I happened to mention that I was a college grad (only one of my coworkers) around my supervisor who got really excited and asked what it was in; as I saw her mentally sizing me up for promotion or transfer to another department. I said "Philosophy" and she immediately turned back to what she was doing and never mentioned it again. Lolz!

  27. #27
    I read all the existentialists in college and was fascinated; then I read Viktor Frankl's 'Man's Search For Meaning'. That kind of settled everything for me. I'm with The Third School......

    Gassho,

    Lee

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Fugu View Post
    I read all the existentialists in college and was fascinated; then I read Viktor Frankl's 'Man's Search For Meaning'. That kind of settled everything for me. I'm with The Third School......

    Gassho,

    Lee

    Thanks Lee,




    the wonderful Viktor Frankl in full flow

    Gassho

    Willow

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    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    The thing I try to remind myself of from time to time when considering the Dharma is that it is just a way of expressing that which can't be expressed with words. The Buddha sat, uncovered enlightenment and began to teach the Dharma. The Dharma is just the truth of the world when seen "as it is," which sitting helps with sitting can reveal (only if it isn't the goal of sitting though haha). Eventually, all life is seen as zazen both on the zafu and off it. I can study Buddhist philosophy for a lifetime and I'll just be staring at the finger rather than the moon. From my own experience, much of the Dharma didn't click with me until I began to sit Shikantaza regularly. Then these seemingly vague words began to click because they only seem vague due to their simplicity. So simple that the thinking mind can't believe it. So for me, it took sitting for the Dharma to really make sense.

    Gassho, John

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Nameless View Post
    The thing I try to remind myself of from time to time when considering the Dharma is that it is just a way of expressing that which can't be expressed with words. The Buddha sat, uncovered enlightenment and began to teach the Dharma. The Dharma is just the truth of the world when seen "as it is," which sitting helps with sitting can reveal (only if it isn't the goal of sitting though haha). Eventually, all life is seen as zazen both on the zafu and off it. I can study Buddhist philosophy for a lifetime and I'll just be staring at the finger rather than the moon. From my own experience, much of the Dharma didn't click with me until I began to sit Shikantaza regularly. Then these seemingly vague words began to click because they only seem vague due to their simplicity. So simple that the thinking mind can't believe it. So for me, it took sitting for the Dharma to really make sense.

    Gassho, John
    Yep. Sometimes our existential Practice is cleaning up Buddha piss in the Buddha kitchen ...
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post120157

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  31. #31
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Hahaha! Yep yep!

    Gassho, John

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    What do you mean with I'm with the third School? I've read that book as well with Victor Frankl. I think it's very Nietzscheish! "The one that has a why to live, can bare with almost any how" - Like Nietzsches view on suffering, it has to do with growth, you will encounter suffering when striving for your goals, or becoming who you are, it's healthy. What doesn't kill you will only make you stronger.

    I'm sure it's that way nameless. Somehow I'm clearing up time for reading and thinking, but not for sitting. It's the sad truth. My ego always finds some excuse to hold of the sitting for another time, I need some more food for my mind first.

  33. #33
    Hi Neo,

    Perhaps you have to go through that "philosophy period" first. The more you read of that stuff, the more your head will start to spin and one day you will remember to sit zazen.
    And find out that all the time nothing has been missing...

    I'd recommend a "sane mix" though. There is a time to read and a time to sit.
    If you can spare 15 mins per day for sitting that's better than nothing! And everyone can spare 15 mins - either by going to bed 15 mins later or by getting up 15 mins. earlier.

    "And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. "
    - F. Nietzsche

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    no thing needs to be added

  34. #34
    Hello,

    @willow

    Thank you so much for this delightful link. There are so many mediocre lecturers and speakers in the world, that it is a joy to see someone at the top of his/her game!

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

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    So you think it's impossible to combine these two 'schools'? I mean, it just feels so nihilistic, nothing to do, nowhere to go. It's not working in this society. Isn't it more fun to do something, create something, strive for goals, to make this world a better place? To develop, learn new skills, to grow. Even though you know the buddha rules of dukkha, impermanence, and nirvana? Not getting money for money, but rather as a side effect from beeing good at something?

    I hope it's just a misunderstanding, that you can strive to grow, learn new things, enjoy life, even though you accept and practice the fundamental rules of Buddhism (da reality). I'm much less experienced compared to most of you here, and I'm somewhat young to I guess. But I just feel like it's wrong to just accept something without understanding it in my heart. That's why I'm fighting against. That's why existentialism feels more exciting than Zen at times.

    Like in the peaceful warrior. I think Dan Millman is inspired from existential thinkers like Kirkegaard for example. And he makes it to work with the eastern philosophies. To me it feels like a perfect middle way. Not striving for glory or beeing happy at the end, rather enjoying the ride, doing something with your life and hopefully something that benefit others. Maybe Zen/buddhism is this way allready and I've got it wrong!

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all in about buddhism/zen. I've figured that's the best view on reality I've come across so far. I'm just talking out of the air here, talking at random. Don't take everything I'm saying strict. Just trying to express my feelings.
    Last edited by Neo; 01-23-2014 at 03:22 PM.

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Neo View Post
    But I just feel like it's wrong to just accept something without understanding it in my heart.
    Thank you for your insight Neo, but I wonder, does the intellectual process of understanding come from the heart, or the mind? Sometimes for me I know something is right because I feel it in my heart and my mind has nothing to do with it. And other times what I feel in my heart is not truth, but the reflection of what my mind thinks it is or should be.

    Sometimes it is important to intellectually understand the workings of things and times when to just sit with whatever it is ... accepting it in the heart and the mind. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  37. #37
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    Shiningen, I don't know really, If you read my last post I'm trying to explain why I have a hard time giving in to Buddhism and let all desires and dreams of a broken ego go. Even though I guess that's what I need to do, break down totally to start with!

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Neo View Post
    Shiningen, I don't know really, If you read my last post I'm trying to explain why I have a hard time giving in to Buddhism and let all desires and dreams of a broken ego go. Even though I guess that's what I need to do, break down totally to start with!
    Well, Neo, I do not know if you need to "break down totally". A "long, dark night of the soul" is sometimes an important part of this Practice (I came to Buddhist practice after a decade or more of depression and confusion in my teens into my mid twenties). But probably no need for a break down if it can be avoided.

    However, one certainly does have to get past a lot of self-imposed "junk in the mental trunk" that we tend to carry around in our heads. You write ...

    My real problem kinda is that I've got a low self-esteem

    Well, WHO is judging? WHO is judging WHOM in a world of deep interconnection? Where is this "high and low" in a world where every grain of sand is sacred in its way? WHO needs "self-esteem"? (Here is a clue: the self needs self esteem).

    So I started reading to fix my broken ego, to create something of my self

    Where is this "ego", this self ... and WHO is judging that it is in need of fixing? (Here is a clue: It is the self that judges the self in need of fixing). Let this self go!

    Bodhidharma said, "Bring me this heart, this 'self', in need of fixing" ...

    In Shikantaza, dropping all judgments of fixed or broken,fulfilled or lacking ... sitting right in and as the Unbroken Moment ... we temporarily put the little critic, the self, out of a job.

    Then, rising from the cushion, we do not try to "abandon the ego totally", but befriend our self ... realizing, like the parent of a small child, that it will sometimes get into all kinds of trouble and fooling around, because that is what children do.

    DO NOT TRY TO GET TOTALLY BEYOND THE SELF (at least, except for those passing Kensho momentless moments now and then). You cannot live without a self, you would not be a human being. In our Soto Way, one can be free of the self and not a prisoner of the self ... even as one is all bound up as the self, all at once!

    Then I'll have to leave every bad medicine (drugs, girls, games) ...

    Well, maybe leave the drugs ... but okay to keep the girls and games (in moderation and balance, of course!)

    Even this search for meaning is a funny one: If oneself tells oneself that this world is meaningless ... it is.

    If oneself finds that oneself, and every grain of sand, is filled with meaning and sacredness ... it is.

    Kind of like ice cream! If one says that it is just a conglomeration of molecules, some cow secretions and sweet stuff that will just make one fat and which one could run to in excess as an excuse to bury one's pain in the drug of "Ben & Jerry" ... well, you are not wrong. On the other hand ... DELICIOUS! JUST TASTE IT ON ONE'S TONGUE THIS MOMENT! EVEN THE FLAVORS NOT OUR FAVORITE ... DELICIOUS! WHO DOESN'T LIKE ICE CREAM (in moderation and balance, of course!)

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-24-2014 at 04:11 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  39. #39
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Hey Neo. I can relate. I was once in an eerily similar state of mind. Studied philosophy and theology for years trying to expand my mind, answer my questions and come to a view that felt right and... complete. After awhile I started to pick out views I agreed with from all these schools of thought. Started living by my own philosophy. To my amazement, the thing I created was very very similar to Zen Buddhism. When I read the first book on Zen I was blown away. So, I found it very easy to slip right into it because I was kind of practicing before knowing I was practicing haha.

    My ego, fed on speculation and intellectualism for almost three decades, has rebelled against zazen at times as well. I find it's beneficial to show myself kindness at such times. Visualize a mother consoling her infant. "It's okay sweetie, you're all right. We're just gonna sit now, okay?" I take a few deep breaths, and envelop myself completely in mindfulness when preparing to sit. Then, the ego settles and submits. Like a child afraid of the dark who's been lulled into sleep. If you're interested, this upcoming column written for the local paper might be useful.

    In regards to striving, learning, growing and all that I can only suggest the view of being the moment. If we drop all thoughts of, "Doing this for that reason," "I hate this I wish it was done, " "I love this, I wish it would never end," and just focus on the sweeping when we sweep then it's possible to truly be immersed in the motion of sweeping, united with it. Then, the floor being swept and clean is just a fortunate byproduct. This is anything but stagnant, this is the way of unadulterated equanimity, emotional beauty and satisfaction. The grass doesn't think of growing, it just grows. With this there is unconditional appreciation, which is the essence of enjoyment. That's my take on it at least.

    Gassho, John

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Nameless View Post
    Hey Neo. I can relate. I was once in an eerily similar state of mind. Studied philosophy and theology for years trying to expand my mind, answer my questions and come to a view that felt right and... complete. After awhile I started to pick out views I agreed with from all these schools of thought. Started living by my own philosophy. To my amazement, the thing I created was very very similar to Zen Buddhism. When I read the first book on Zen I was blown away. So, I found it very easy to slip right into it because I was kind of practicing before knowing I was practicing haha.

    My ego, fed on speculation and intellectualism for almost three decades, has rebelled against zazen at times as well. I find it's beneficial to show myself kindness at such times. Visualize a mother consoling her infant. "It's okay sweetie, you're all right. We're just gonna sit now, okay?" I take a few deep breaths, and envelop myself completely in mindfulness when preparing to sit. Then, the ego settles and submits. Like a child afraid of the dark who's been lulled into sleep. If you're interested, this upcoming column written for the local paper might be useful.

    In regards to striving, learning, growing and all that I can only suggest the view of being the moment. If we drop all thoughts of, "Doing this for that reason," "I hate this I wish it was done, " "I love this, I wish it would never end," and just focus on the sweeping when we sweep then it's possible to truly be immersed in the motion of sweeping, united with it. Then, the floor being swept and clean is just a fortunate byproduct. This is anything but stagnant, this is the way of unadulterated equanimity, emotional beauty and satisfaction. The grass doesn't think of growing, it just grows. With this there is unconditional appreciation, which is the essence of enjoyment. That's my take on it at least.

    Gassho, John
    You need to get a cat.

    Gassho,

    Lee

  41. #41
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fugu View Post
    You need to get a cat.

    Gassho,

    Lee
    Haha! Already do.

    Gassho, John

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Nameless View Post
    Hey Neo. I can relate. I was once in an eerily similar state of mind. Studied philosophy and theology for years trying to expand my mind, answer my questions and come to a view that felt right and... complete. After awhile I started to pick out views I agreed with from all these schools of thought. Started living by my own philosophy. To my amazement, the thing I created was very very similar to Zen Buddhism. When I read the first book on Zen I was blown away. So, I found it very easy to slip right into it because I was kind of practicing before knowing I was practicing haha.

    My ego, fed on speculation and intellectualism for almost three decades, has rebelled against zazen at times as well. I find it's beneficial to show myself kindness at such times. Visualize a mother consoling her infant. "It's okay sweetie, you're all right. We're just gonna sit now, okay?" I take a few deep breaths, and envelop myself completely in mindfulness when preparing to sit. Then, the ego settles and submits. Like a child afraid of the dark who's been lulled into sleep. If you're interested, this upcoming column written for the local paper might be useful.

    In regards to striving, learning, growing and all that I can only suggest the view of being the moment. If we drop all thoughts of, "Doing this for that reason," "I hate this I wish it was done, " "I love this, I wish it would never end," and just focus on the sweeping when we sweep then it's possible to truly be immersed in the motion of sweeping, united with it. Then, the floor being swept and clean is just a fortunate byproduct. This is anything but stagnant, this is the way of unadulterated equanimity, emotional beauty and satisfaction. The grass doesn't think of growing, it just grows. With this there is unconditional appreciation, which is the essence of enjoyment. That's my take on it at least.

    Gassho, John
    You need to get a cat.

    Gassho,

    Lee

  43. #43
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    Thank you nameless for you answers and your effort to help me out, it seems like you have a lot of experience and to be honest, it's odd to me that not many people have experience in searching for meaning, truth, answers... for me it's like, what can be more important to get some meaning. Without it, what the point in doing anything?

    My real problem kinda is that I've got a low self-esteem, all the way from my childhood. I guess I should not, I'm pretty smart, good looks etc. And this is what brought me to philosophy at the first place, my suffering in this world, my search for answers. It's hard not believing in your self. So I started reading to fix my broken ego, to create something of my self. A guy in my place in the western world really want's success, to be liked. Then I encountered Buddhism...

    It feels like I'm stuck between fixing the broken ego and become someone (existentialism, success literature, self-help) or to just abandon my ego totally (Zen, Buddhism, fight-clubish, spirituality). And I'm stuck between these camps, somehow I cant just drop the feeling of not trying to get girls, becoming good at sport, building muscles at the gym. It's like everything I thought mattered in my whole childhood and early adult life was just an illusion, but it's a powerful one, so powerful. My ego needs it's food to keep me floating at all, and all thoughts about letting all this attention-seeking go (I know it's the wrong way to go), I don't know what's left to live for... it's really hard when you know in the end that it's the wrong way to go, but feelings are powerful. I've been stuck like this for many years now... and I don't know if it's building or destroying the ego that I need to do.

    Again I'm getting far to personal here, sorry about this. At I've tried to explain why I have a hard time just giving all in on Buddhism and meditation. Then I'll have to leave every bad medicine (drugs, girls, games) that keeps me floating today behind, and that's really scary and it will for real get my ignored depression up to the surface.

  44. #44
    Hi Neo,

    Quote Originally Posted by Neo View Post
    It feels like I'm stuck between fixing the broken ego and become someone (existentialism, success literature, self-help) or to just abandon my ego totally (Zen, Buddhism, fight-clubish, spirituality). [ ... ]
    I've been stuck like this for many years now... and I don't know if it's building or destroying the ego that I need to do.
    Actually both would be wrong!
    This is NOT an either-or-question.
    You need to get both aspects under one roof.

    On the one hand you need your ego to live in this world - you could not "function" without it.
    However, you should not take things (and neither yourself) too seriously.

    This is the big cosmic joke: You are actually everything that is, but at the same time live as a separate, individual self through which IT/the Tao/the cosmos/God/[please fill in your favourite expression that like the others won't be able to describe the mystery anyway] realises itself.
    How funny, tragic, awesome, ordinary and extraordinary that is!

    In any case the first thing you must do is to fully accept yourself. And from that basis you can try to change your "little self" - but from a state of acceptance!
    If you completely gave up your ego you'd become a robot.
    However, at the same time you need to realise you are much more, and that all of this is just a great show - in fact the biggest and grandest show of all.
    You are stuck in this "dream" - so make the best out of it for yourself and everyone else. But at the same time you should act with the knowledge that it is in fact a "dream".
    Yes, there is birth and death - but no, actually there is not.

    You must know that in the long run happiness (not the superficial one, but more a constant state of being) can only come from within - never from outside factors.
    Because you cannot control those outside factors. If your hapiness depends on money, power, fame or recognition by others, etc. disappointment is to be expected.
    If your happiness comes from within, from a contentment with what is, being happy and grateful for the mere fact of being alive, everywhere is your home, you see others as yourself and "true happiness" can settle.

    This is not a one-time-thing though - it is a constant practice.


    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    Last edited by Daitetsu; 01-24-2014 at 02:13 PM.
    no thing needs to be added

  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Daitetsu View Post
    Hi Neo,



    Actually both would be wrong!
    This is NOT an either-or-question.
    You need to get both aspects under one roof.

    On the one hand you need your ego to live in this world - you could not "function" without it.
    However, you should not take things (and neither yourself) too seriously.

    This is the big cosmic joke: You are actually everything that is, but at the same time live as a separate, individual self through which IT/the Tao/the cosmos/God/[please fill in your favourite expression that like the others won't be able to describe the mystery anyway] realises itself.
    How funny, tragic, awesome, ordinary and extraordinary that is!

    In any case the first thing you must do is to fully accept yourself. And from that basis you can try to change your "little self" - but from a state of acceptance!
    If you completely gave up your ego you'd become a robot.
    However, at the same time you need to realise you are much more, and that all of this is just a great show - in fact the biggest and grandest show of all.
    You are stuck in this "dream" - so make the best out of it for yourself and everyone else. But at the same time you should act with the knowledge that it is in fact a "dream".
    Yes, there is birth and death - but no, actually there is not.

    You must know that in the long run happiness (not the superficial one, but more a constant state of being) can only come from within - never from outside factors.
    Because you cannot control those outside factors. If your hapiness depends on money, power, fame or recognition by others, etc. disappointment is to be expected.
    If your happiness comes from within, from a contentment with what is, being happy and grateful for the mere fact of being alive, everywhere is your home and "true happiness" can settle.

    This is not a one-time-thing - it is a constant practice.


    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    Timo, you and Ben are just doing such a much better job today than me at explaining all this stuff! Lovely!

    I should shut up and let you two handle it!.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  46. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Timo, you and Ben are just doing such a much better job today than me at explaining all this stuff! Lovely!

    I should shut up and let you two handle it!.
    Jundo, please, you make me blush and are feeding my ego with this!
    No, seriously, I just have great teachers, so 10.000 bows go to you, Taigu and everyone else in this Sangha.


    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    no thing needs to be added

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Daitetsu View Post
    are feeding my ego with this!
    WHO is feeding the ego? (Here is a clue: It is the ego)

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  48. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Daitetsu View Post
    Hi Neo,



    Actually both would be wrong!
    This is NOT an either-or-question.
    You need to get both aspects under one roof.

    On the one hand you need your ego to live in this world - you could not "function" without it.
    However, you should not take things (and neither yourself) too seriously.

    This is the big cosmic joke: You are actually everything that is, but at the same time live as a separate, individual self through which IT/the Tao/the cosmos/God/[please fill in your favourite expression that like the others won't be able to describe the mystery anyway] realises itself.
    How funny, tragic, awesome, ordinary and extraordinary that is!

    In any case the first thing you must do is to fully accept yourself. And from that basis you can try to change your "little self" - but from a state of acceptance!
    If you completely gave up your ego you'd become a robot.
    However, at the same time you need to realise you are much more, and that all of this is just a great show - in fact the biggest and grandest show of all.
    You are stuck in this "dream" - so make the best out of it for yourself and everyone else. But at the same time you should act with the knowledge that it is in fact a "dream".
    Yes, there is birth and death - but no, actually there is not.

    You must know that in the long run happiness (not the superficial one, but more a constant state of being) can only come from within - never from outside factors.
    Because you cannot control those outside factors. If your hapiness depends on money, power, fame or recognition by others, etc. disappointment is to be expected.
    If your happiness comes from within, from a contentment with what is, being happy and grateful for the mere fact of being alive, everywhere is your home, you see others as yourself and "true happiness" can settle.

    This is not a one-time-thing though - it is a constant practice.


    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    Yeah, this is right on.

    I've read a lot of philosophy, and a lot of Nietzsche and quite a bit of Sartre (though not his big giant book). In any case, there are similarities between these guys and Buddhism, and I personally don't find Nietzsche or Sartre to be nihilistic - I think that's an interpretation that they're often boxed into.

    More importantly though is this, at least for me: reading these philosophers was great, and sometimes fun, and sometimes made me feel awful, and etc, but the thing that I noticed, pretty quickly, was that with all of them, there was nothing to do. There was just more thinking, more reading, like an infinite regress. An almost purely intellectual thing. Insofar that thinking is an act, that's pretty much all that is there with these guys, these great thinkers - think, consider, and there's even an element of "believe" what they're saying. But with Buddhism, there is something to do; there is physical activity (and also mental activity) to be taken, which is zazen. The problem with these guys, to me, is that they do a great job of talking about the world, of trying to interpret it, but much of it is unhelpful in every day life. Seriously, how is Nietzsche's idea of an Unbermensch going to be helpful in every day life? I mean, it's a great idea, but many people disagree about what exactly he meant by it. How can anything be helpful in every day life, in concrete reality, if people can't even agree on the meaning of it? Same with the "will to power" - a lot of different interpretations. In the end, you're not running with Nietzsche or Sartre, it's just you and this world that is you, that is living through you, that you are living through.

    Zazen is doing the dropping of "finding meaning" in the world and "interpreting the world." By dropping all that, we find there is no need for meaning or not, no need for interpretation. Though meaning and interpretation can be fun, the trick is not getting tied up into trying to figure it all out - pulling our hair out about the meaning of it all. Zazen is not about stopping and not advancing and not being creative and not being intellectual - it's about opening to whatever we are and letting our intellect and creativity be what they are, freely, unimpinged by existentialism and Nietzsche or father figures or culture (as much as this is possible), etc.

    Gassho
    Last edited by alan.r; 01-25-2014 at 05:04 PM.
    Shōmon

  49. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r View Post

    Zazen is doing the dropping of "finding meaning" in the world and "interpreting the world." By dropping all that, we find there is no need for meaning or not, no need for interpretation. Though meaning and interpretation can be fun, the trick is not getting tied up into trying to figure it all out - pulling our hair out about the meaning of it all. Zazen is not about stopping and not advancing and not being creative and not being intellectual - it's about opening to whatever we are and letting our intellect and creativity be what they are, freely, unimpinged by existentialism and Nietzsche or father figures or culture (as much as this is possible), etc.

    Gassho
    Hmmm. Well, let me perhaps advise to drop even that, Alan! I think you mean that each has its place, but do not be their prisoner all tangled up.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong about being interested in Nietzsche, Existentialism or Western Philosophy while Practicing "Zen", no more than there is anything wrong with throwing oneself diligently into gardening, cooking eggs or reading Agatha Christie mysteries while Practicing "Zen". Each is lovely, and when tending roses in the garden do so with great energy ... when reading Nietzsche, just do that!

    Of course, we have our Shikantaza in which ... while sitting ... we drop all thought of Plato, Nietzsche, roses and eggs and Agatha Christie ... all to realize a Realize which fully transcends even while dancing all that!

    But rising from the cushion, get back to the philosophizing, mystery solving and rose pruning should one wish! Lovely! There may be times to stop, times to advance, pull one's hair out, be creative or intellectual. Have at it! It is Buddha pulling out Buddha's Hair!

    Know those times when we pick up the book or garden sheers, and those times when we put them down and head for the Zafu. Perhaps one will then sense a Reality where there is Plato and Nietzsche and roses and crab grass and eggs and Miss Marple, ... a Reality where Plato is found in every egg, where advancing is sitting perfectly still and Miss Marple tells us who killed Neitzsche. ... a Reality in which every Mystery is solved as so many mysteries remain!

    I find great meaning and direction in life through Zazen. How to describe the feeling?

    For me, life is something like being born on a mysterious sailboat sailing on the sea. Through this Practice, one finds that the key point is in the sailing, not the destination ... that there are good directions and bad (those that head into storms and onto rocks, those that go with the wind) ... and that water, sun and wind, wheel and mast, storms and clear skies, sails and this sailor are each separate, yet each one. Very Existential! (And there are even times to sit on the deck with a good book of German Philosophy!)

    Good Sailing!

    That is enough direction and meaning for me.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-26-2014 at 05:51 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  50. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    For me, life is something like being born on a mysterious sailboat sailing on the sea. Through this Practice, one finds that the point is in the sailing, not the destination ... that there are good directions and bad (those that head into storms and onto rocks, those that go with the wind) ... and that water, sun and wind, wheel and mast, storms and clear skies, sails and this  sailor are each separate, yet each one.
    Beautifully put Jundo, thank you! =)

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

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