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I am a Heraclitean—he’s the philosopher who always most appealed to me. While I follow the doctrine of awakening, the drawback is that while it relates more closely to primal European religions it is attuned for the Eastern mentality; and the Eastern mentality abolishes individuality, whereas the West is characterised by its interest in the individual. Hence Buddhism never sits right for the Westerner, nor does Taoism—while these are closer to what Europeans are than the Semitic religions, there’s still a discrepancy. The Western individual is not the same as what the Buddhists call “the ego”—that might be characterised as your coarse manipulative desires, yet the Eastern religions leave no room for individuality. The only option is dissolution of individual identity altogether—and that’s easy for orientals because they don’t have individuality.

We’re somewhat caught—Semitic religions lack gnosis and conceptualise the spiritual world in a way that is alien to Europeans, whereas the Bhagavad Gita is familiar to Europeans; it’s a warrior text, just like Homer’s poetry; it is more alive to us than the Bible or the Koran. Yet it is still “other”: the Easterner denies the individual, he must sink himself into samadhi—peaceful union with the godhead. Buddhism remains at base a peaceful religion—as does Christianity; and yet Europeans are the warrior people par excellence—if Europeans like Islam it’s for its warlike nature (Mohammad, unlike Jesus, says that if someone hits you then you should hit them back—very straightforward).

Heraclitus, on the other hand, puts forward a philosophy of war—war is the king of all and makes some men kings and others slaves. He encapsulates the paradoxical reversal of opposites found in Buddhism and Taoism, just as he captures the Christian logos—yet he places everything in a context of rhythmic antagonism (the musical bow and the bow in war being one and the same). His is the philosophy of fire—he knew of Zarathustra, his spiritual fire. I am a Heraclitean.


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1 opmerking

06 apr. 2023

What bothers me while thinking about this is that European peoples as a whole seem to swiftly abandoned their native traditions and yielded to Christianity readily.

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