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Thread: A Nietzsche quote about thinking and ego

  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 01:53 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.

  5. #5
    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 02:47 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.

  7. #7
    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 02:50 AM.

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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
    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 03:07 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.

  11. #11
    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 03:42 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 04:38 AM.

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    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 04:02 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 09:11 AM.
    Gassho
    Ben

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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
    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

  17. #17
    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

  18. #18
    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.

  19. #19
    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

    #SAT TODAY!

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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

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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

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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

  23. #23
    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
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  24. #24
    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
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

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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; 01-23-2014 at 12:00 AM.

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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
    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

  29. #29
    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

    #SAT TODAY!

  30. #30
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Hahaha! Yep yep!

    Gassho, John

  31. #31
    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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    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

  35. #35
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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 04:22 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
    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

  38. #38
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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.

  39. #39
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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!

  40. #40
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    I know how you feel Neo. I also had low self-esteem since childhood. Was always the outsider. Sucked in grade school, but kids respected it in high school, though by then the wounds ran deep. Like you, I knew it was unreasonable to be so hard on myself, to magnify every "flaw," but reason does little to alleviate such suffering and loneliness. The first step out of my own suffering was realizing I chose to feel sad, chose to view myself negatively. Focus determines reality, I was focusing on unnecessary things.

    The ego is truly tricky business. By actively trying to annihilate it we are actually building it up further. In my experience, it isn't destroyed, but becomes kind of transparent, letting Buddha-nature shine through. Letting the ego go involves realizing intuitively that it was never really there to begin with. Everything I identify with is constantly in flux from moment to moment. I feel different, the cognitive themes are different, everything is different every time I get out of bed... so right now there's really not this thing we call ego at all, experiencing that firsthand we let it go.

    Zen is far from all fun and games haha. It is a "direct pointing to the mind of man." We must turn and face ourselves. More than once I've encountered hard truths about my "self" on this path but I can't push them and can't dwell on them. They simply rise up, and depart leaving only peace in their wake. When sorrow does rise up, we can't feel, "This is my sorrow," only, "there is sorrow." Like watching a leaf on the breeze it just keeps on blowing if we don't grasp it, hovering in our view for just a few moments. That analogy works because all things follow the same laws as that blowing leaf, it's no exclusive to the leaf itself. By simple awareness truth becomes apparent.

    And as far as drugs, girls and games go... something new I'm encountering lately is an unconscious and gentle un-attachment. To each attachment I'm randomly going, "What? Why?" In that order haha. Like waking up from a dream to find I've been sleep walking. Getting stoned left first. I didn't push it away, it just left on it's own accord (and I used to rely on pot for my happiness). Then getting drunk (used to rely on it to have fun). Now overeating (satisfaction). I can tell you first hand, letting these things go naturally isn't depressing at all, quite the contrary actually. But I feel it has to be done naturally, not forcefully. Now I can feel happy, satisfied and have fun for no reason at all. Hope this helped buddy! I could go on indefinitely, but I've already written too much.

    Gassho, John

    (P.S. Zazen. Hahaha)
    Last edited by Nameless; 01-24-2014 at 04:26 AM.

  41. #41
    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 05:11 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  42. #42
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Here's a word of advice, if you really want to 'understand zen'. Just sit.

    Stop thinking in terms of either - or (fixing the ego vs abandoning it). Just drop judgments of thinking that this is who you are, and who you are not, who you should be, who you should not be, etc. Also stop trying to think of a way to synthesise these two philosophies. Give yourself a break, relinquish control. As Dogen wrote in Fukanzazengi, "Put aside all involvements and suspend all affairs."

    Just really sit. Let go.

    I personally found it very scary at first... It felt like I was dying, like the world was going to end if I let my hold of it loosen. It takes some courage, and trust, and faith. Even if they say Buddhism is a compatible religion of modern times, I've found that some faith is still necessary especially when just sitting. Throw yourself into the fire, the whole world is Buddha's body burning in Buddha flames.

    If it is difficult, it's ok. As Miyamoto Musashi said, "Of course it is difficult at first. Everything is difficult at first." Just keep trying, man. This practice may sound simple, sometimes easy, but it still takes some effort.

    Good luck, Neo. You'll make it.
    Last edited by Tiwala; 01-24-2014 at 10:59 AM.
    Gassho
    Ben

  43. #43
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    Thank you all for your answers, I really appreciate it. Just to clear something out, when I say that I'll try to fix my broken ego, I mean the western way, because that's what we do here (psychoanalysis etc). I know that in Buddhism there's no self to be fixed, rather dropping away of the self, broken or not. That's why people that suffered hard is more likely to take the 'spiritual path' compared to people who is raised in this society and has a 'working' ego.

    I know my enemy is my self and, as you say Jundo, the crap that's inside my head that judges me, puts me down, all illusions. I don't know how to get to them, to make my 'soul' realize that it's just delusions created wrongly when I was little. It's dark ghosts that I live with every day, and they are affecting even my physical health as well. And you all say that zazen is the way to make me understand and, maybe not get rid of them, but to understand that it's only junk that don't need to have any impact on me?

    Because I also know (or this is what i believe) that your thoughts create your reality. I believe in 'the law of attraction' somehow, it just makes sense to me. And right now, I'm attracting a lot of junk. Have anyone of you read James Allen, or maybe Neville Goddard? Maybe you can compare it with 'cultivating seeds' in the zen-training.

    So yes, reading, even if I won't stop with it (because I enjoy reading) won't help me much with the dark pack of junk that I'm afraid of and is directing my life, giving me panic attacks etc. But zazen and 'facing my fears' in a practical way will (what else?), and I know it. It just feels so, scary... even though I know it's the only way to take 'control' of my life again. I live in a state of fear every day. I wish I could just see right through the illusions with all my knowledge, so they won't have any control over me anymore.

    And finally. Fixing a broken ego can work to get a life that's, somehow livable, but in the movie 'the matrix', Neo takes the red pill, there's no way back. ... and also I have taken the red pill, I know it's no idea try to fix this ego, that I know is an illusion at the first place. 'ignorance is bliss', for some people, but I'm not ignorant and nor wish I to be.

  44. #44
    What is ego? What is self? :-)

    Gassho, Jishin
    治 Ji
    心​ Shin
    #SatToday

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    What is ego? What is self? :-)

    Gassho, Jishin
    I get the feeling that u haven't read the whole post here.

    Anyway, the zen answer is something like - It's a concept that most of us (99.9% living today) identifies as our self, our sense of worth, seperated from the reste of the world we experience. According to some old teachings it's just an illusion and we are so much more than this small self. Some of us, very few, realizes this and can now dance from morning to nightfall without any fear or anxiety, cause they have leaped beyond all fear.
    Last edited by Neo; 01-24-2014 at 01:32 PM.

  46. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiwala View Post
    Here's a word of advice, if you really want to 'understand zen'. Just sit.

    Stop thinking in terms of either - or (fixing the ego vs abandoning it). Just drop judgments of thinking that this is who you are, and who you are not, who you should be, who you should not be, etc. Also stop trying to think of a way to synthesise these two philosophies. Give yourself a break, relinquish control. As Dogen wrote in Fukanzazengi, "Put aside all involvements and suspend all affairs."

    Just really sit. Let go.

    I personally found it very scary at first... It felt like I was dying, like the world was going to end if I let my hold of it loosen. It takes some courage, and trust, and faith. Even if they say Buddhism is a compatible religion of modern times, I've found that some faith is still necessary especially when just sitting. Throw yourself into the fire, the whole world is Buddha's body burning in Buddha flames.

    If it is difficult, it's ok. As Miyamoto Musashi said, "Of course it is difficult at first. Everything is difficult at first." Just keep trying, man. This practice may sound simple, sometimes easy, but it still takes some effort.

    Good luck, Neo. You'll make it.
    Ben, seems to me that you are becoming quite gifted at expressing. You are a fast learner and unlearner!

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Neo View Post
    Thank you all for your answers, I really appreciate it. Just to clear something out, when I say that I'll try to fix my broken ego, I mean the western way, because that's what we do here (psychoanalysis etc). I know that in Buddhism there's no self to be fixed, rather dropping away of the self, broken or not. That's why people that suffered hard is more likely to take the 'spiritual path' compared to people who is raised in this society and has a 'working' ego.

    I know my enemy is my self and, as you say Jundo, the crap that's inside my head that judges me, puts me down, all illusions. I don't know how to get to them, to make my 'soul' realize that it's just delusions created wrongly when I was little. It's dark ghosts that I live with every day, and they are affecting even my physical health as well. And you all say that zazen is the way to make me understand and, maybe not get rid of them, but to understand that it's only junk that don't need to have any impact on me?

    Because I also know (or this is what i believe) that your thoughts create your reality. I believe in 'the law of attraction' somehow, it just makes sense to me. And right now, I'm attracting a lot of junk. Have anyone of you read James Allen, or maybe Neville Goddard? Maybe you can compare it with 'cultivating seeds' in the zen-training.

    So yes, reading, even if I won't stop with it (because I enjoy reading) won't help me much with the dark pack of junk that I'm afraid of and is directing my life, giving me panic attacks etc. But zazen and 'facing my fears' in a practical way will (what else?), and I know it. It just feels so, scary... even though I know it's the only way to take 'control' of my life again. I live in a state of fear every day. I wish I could just see right through the illusions with all my knowledge, so they won't have any control over me anymore.

    And finally. Fixing a broken ego can work to get a life that's, somehow livable, but in the movie 'the matrix', Neo takes the red pill, there's no way back. ... and also I have taken the red pill, I know it's no idea try to fix this ego, that I know is an illusion at the first place. 'ignorance is bliss', for some people, but I'm not ignorant and nor wish I to be.
    Kind of verbal wallowing here, too much self-analysis and making a big deal of things. Take it easy.

    Perhaps a bit of therapy would help you if you are not already in treatment, to see what is setting off this panic and self-loathing.

    But hand in hand with that, one might sit Shikantaza, an action of Wholeness and Completion, dropping away for some minutes all that wallowing, self-analysis and making a big deal ... laying aside the "something to fix" thoughts and dark ghosts (or, at least, just sit for a time letting "dark ghosts" be "dark ghosts" without judgment or resistance to their dark ghostiness! ).

    Just stop hitting yourself in the head with some emotional hammer!

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  48. #48
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    I've tried therapy a few times, it's not doing anything for me. If you'r saying that zazen can't help me to understand my self, and help me with letting go of unhealthy identification with my dark programming then it's nothing for me either. There is things to be fixed, at least something to understand or realize. And I'll have to keep searching until I find something that helps, or die trying.

  49. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Neo View Post
    I've tried therapy a few times, it's not doing anything for me. If you'r saying that zazen can't help me to understand my self, and help me with letting go of unhealthy identification with my dark programming then it's nothing for me either. There is things to be fixed, at least something to understand or realize. And I'll have to keep searching until I find something that helps, or die trying.
    Of course Zazen can help you fix things! Sometimes the way to "fix things" is to stop doing what you are doing. If one is hitting themselves in the head with a hammer again and again, the best answer is not to analyze why or devise a philosophical point of view on hammering or figure out a strategy to stop. The best thing is just to put the hammer down.

    When we let go of our negative, self abusive thinking ... clarity comes, illumination light up ... answers manifest (sometimes the best answers appear when we stop asking the self absorbed questions which are of our own making).

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-24-2014 at 03:15 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  50. #50
    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 03:13 PM.
    no thing needs to be added

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