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Nietzsche’s Buddha and the secular Jesus

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

Yesterday, I pointed out that Christianity—as with Marxism—had a Jewish inflection that made it equalitarian, initially popular with women and slaves, and that it was stabilised when it was fused with the Roman Empire (and Greek philosophy) to become Roman Catholicism; primitive Christianity, without Roman hierarchy, is communism. Obviously, a point taken from Nietzsche (although I’m not sure he thought Catholicism made Christianity’s communist instincts inert).

This view often leads people, through Nietzsche, to reject Christianity as a “Jewish invention”, like Marxism, to project a Jewish racial sensibility onto Europeans; and they adduce that perhaps Jesus himself was an invented character—Nietzsche certainly alludes to such a notion with his suggestion that “history is often invented” and his references to textual instability. They then exit to Nietzsche’s view whereby what we have is a poeticised science, perhaps with the pagan gods as personifications for nature—a situation that is not, in fact, actual paganism.

Just because Marxism and Christianity reflect a Jewish sensibility doesn’t mean they don’t say true things—they just say them in a certain way. There are true things in Marxism, but it’s not globally true—it’s not all “made up”, and neither is Jesus. Nietzsche himself is not really anti-Jesus, he’s against St. Paul; he takes the view—a view that goes along with the poeticised science view above—that Jesus is sort of a wise teacher about how to be present in the moment (“mindful”, we might say today) and that his amiable “the kingdom of God is at hand” (come to now) vision was turned into a moralistic religion obsessed with hellfire by various later people—and, in particular, Paul. Yet the vision of Jesus is still as secular—I doubt Nietzsche thought the death and resurrection took place, if Jesus existed at all (more invented history, perhaps).

This view from Nietzsche has unfortunately coloured an entire European intellectual tradition because the idea Jesus was a “secular Buddha” and that Buddhism is “scientific” has come to be associated with the view Buddhism is “atheistic” or “non-metaphysical”. RD Laing, the Scottish psychiatrist, exemplifies this trend; he was a Nietzsche devotee and after an interaction with Marxism he went out to Sri Lanka to meditate in a Buddhist monastery (much to the chagrin of the New Left—Laing, not being really political, couldn’t work out why they said he’d “betrayed the cause”; it’s because the left hates religion, any and all religion).

However, though he was a diligent student, Laing never really “got it”—i.e. he treated Buddhism through Nietzsche’s lens, just as a technique to “clear the mind” (almost science, or a science of bodily excellence). In actuality, the exercises are meant to join you to the principial (the unmoved mover, the Godhead); and from the Buddhist perspective Jesus was a man who had achieved union with the Godhead (he was literally a son of God).

Laing’s view as regards Buddhism is also seen in the California cult of the “religion of no religion”—as put forward by Alan Watts and similar, with a scientific veneer (we’re wavy particles or particley waves in the quantum continuum—who knows where your body begins or ends at the quantum level; ego dissolution, man). It owes a lot to Nietzsche—it’s just a technique to clear your mind; and it’s often promoted in contradistinction to Christianity as “rational” and “scientific” (Sam fucking Harris). Yet that’s not the real doctrine of awakening; it’s not a “mind hack” where you microdose LSD and contemplate how your skin’s permeability is meaningless at the quantum level—that’s to sink the metaphysical into matter, it’s not really the doctrine of awakening (it’s to fall asleep in matter).

To loop back to the start: I agree with Nietzsche as regards the problems with Christianity, very similar to “woke” politics today (eerily similar), but I think the death and resurrection took place. To quote Guénon in paraphrase, “Walking on water is more common than is often supposed.” And I would add, in addition, that it was always said that a Taoist sage would leave an empty tomb among the rocks. Obviously, such men are exceptional but not unique (which is what Christians claim about Christ—so that if I were in dialogue with them I would be the rare person who says, “The resurrection definitely happened—but things like that happen relatively often.” And that is an unacceptable answer for most Christians, I think).

The fact is that though these events happen people then have to decide what to do with said events—and people are fallible and various ideas about what to do with these holy men and their messages come about; and that’s where the problems with Christianity arise—it’s a religion that is, in my view, like an ill-fitting pair of shoes for Europeans. You can walk in them, they do the job, yet they’re not entirely comfortable—possibly make your feet blister.

Clearly, Christianity didn’t, per Nietzsche, completely restructure European values because Europe went on to conquer the globe under the cross—and that’s a typical atheist rebuke in the Mark Twain line, “The religion of meekness, mildness, and humility has been complicit in global conquest and murder.” If Europe had been made completely subject to “slave morality” this would never have happened—yet, in effect, knights would ride into battle and seize ladies and then, *at the last minute*, confess to a priest.

This seems like a compromise on values, not an inversion of values—at least not altogether; and, in fact, where Christianity really inverted values was in sexuality, where it did create a “velvety purple sensuality” around sex—and so, of course, Nietzsche is really the apostle of the 1960s and “getting over your hang-ups about sex” (amor fati) much more than he is about a return to the Roman legions; and that’s because it was sexuality where Christianity really bit, not martial values. Anyway, the bottom line is that “Nietzsche’s Buddha” is not real.


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