Mirror of Zen Blog

Meeting Old Teacher Today

Visiting a friend’s house yesterday, I came across on his bookshelf an old favorite text: I could say that this is the text that led to me on the final steps towards Buddhism (this and Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s Essays). With Schopenhauer, it only takes two or three sentences for you to feel yourself fully citizened in a world of superior clarity, sharp wisdom, total fearlessness, and absolute truth-seeking, no matter the costs.

Having felt fully seduced again, after half a paragraph of initially cursory interest, I resolved to read just one chapter during the time of my visit here (so that I don’t need to ask to borrow and carry this telephone book tome in my luggage). This essay is something I believe I haven’t touched in several decades — at least, not in its 40-page entirety.

Unlike back in college, I don’t read Schopenhauer now to “learn“ something, as arrogant as that might seem to say. Rather, reading him is a confirming-journey through the precise, compelling, even caustically humorous way he expresses, in such glaring clarity, the very nature of the human experience itself, write down to its most basic life-force. I have never read any other writer match his depth of seeing, save Emerson.

In this dark season of war and climate breakdown, I feel compelled to share some of Schooenhauer’s reflections on Death here on the blog. So, for the next couple of days, I will post a few of his really compelling arguments. They are as delicious to read — as pure expressions of a philosophical spirit at the height of its craft, in the form of Schopenhauer‘s mind – – as they are true when they register in the heart. This teaching is in an almost perfect alignment with the work of dharma – – it is basically the BUDDHAS insight in Germanic philosophical form. This essay could be translated as “On Death and Its Relation to the Indestructibility of Our True NATURE”. It’s the same thing.

Death is no problem. Only thinking makes it so.

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