Heidegger and Buddhism

Check out this article:


The title is “What’s Wrong with Being and Time: A Buddhist Critique” By David Loy

Not only does it elucidate Heidegger but it also points out and contrasts Heidegger’s philosophy with Buddhism.
Here are a few tidbits that occurred to me while reading it:

As one gets older a certain kind of “inorganic” deflation of one’s illusions overtakes experience. The notions of youthful ambition such as wealth, passion/love – the heroic in this article, lose their force. The “Will to Power” is dispersed and the past as construct is not reconstituted but deconstituted – deconstructed. In occidental culture age and wisdom have been relegated to the non-consequential. Youth and illusion are brought to the fore and age is content-emptying. However, no refutation need be made to reinvigorate age – age brings its own possibilities. It opens by allowing illusion to age, to lose impact and therefore, its insanity.

The desperation of meaning-assertion becomes unraveled and space/rest/repose creep into our historical narratives. Emptiness, sunyata, is not a threat but a companion, a “me” when I am not “me”. In this way, a certain kind of authentic experience is not forced by dread or heroic effort but shows itself as the distance in narrative, the release/letting go of self and of neurotic, obsessive, drive to be. A certain kind of peace, not framed (or undergirded by enframing) but more like breathing out is organically brought to experience and the “inorganic” is merely a byproduct of the prolonged death of youth.

I suppose the critique of these thoughts could be pressed into this analysis by suggesting the old simply give themselves over to everydayness or in Freudian terms the unconscious. However, this seems to me to revive the youthful illusion of polarities, good/bad, differentiation/repression, etc. Being-towards-death or the death wish contrast as authenticity or dispersion. Does “Will to Power” age? Is authenticity the heroic possibility or passivity? Is death about the possibility for authenticity or about realizing what one always was? – Or both…

I think there are hints in this article and in Buddhism of a kind of utopist view of extinction. Realization ushers in a kind of non-articulated paradise. This may not be accurate but I think the allusions to such an experience of realization may create more problems than it solves. In the oriental tradition of Buddhism, a whole collection of Hindu theologies (reincarnation, karma, higher/lower worlds, demons, superstitions, etc.) have crept into Buddhism. Contrarily, Siddhartha Gautama started Buddhism to get away from the “metaphysics” of Hinduism. Buddhists commonly state that they are not a religion but a practice which implies that no theologies need be stated or accepted.

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