Schopenhauer and Buddhism by Bhikkhu Ñāṇājīvako
- See also :
- See also :
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788– 1860)
|Year||Title, translated in English||Abbreviations|
|1813||On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (Ph. D. thesis, quoted from 2nd German edition, 1847)||Über den Satz vom Grunde|
|1819||The World as Will and Representation (first edition, volume one).|
|1844||2nd edition of the same work, in two volumes|
|1859||3rd, final edition of both volumes||W.W.R. I, and II.|
|1851||Parerga and Paralipomena (two volumes)||P.P. I. and II.|
|1836||On the Will in Nature (quoted from 2nd German edition,1854)||Über den Willen in der Natur|
|1841||The Two Fundamental Problems of Ethics (quoted from 2nd German edition, 1860)||Grundprobleme der Ethik|
|Early Manuscripts from: Der Handschriftliche Nachlass, Erster Band: Frühe Manuskripte (1804–1818), Reprinted Frankfurt/M, 1966||F.M.|
Source References and Acknowledgements
W.W.R., I and II are quoted from the English translation by Lt. Col. E. F. J. Payne, Dover Publications, New York, 1966. To the page number the paragraph (§) is added for volume I, and the chapter (Ch.) for volume II.
Passages from Über den Satz vom Grunde and Über den Willen in der Natur are likewise quoted from Col. Payne’s translation of these works, to be issued shortly by The Open Court Publishing Company, La Salle, Illinois.
The author and publishers of the present volume are obliged to the aforementioned two publishers for their kind permission to include here extracts from these works. All other translations have been supplied by Col. E. F. J. Payne from his unpublished manuscripts. Except for the Early Manuscripts, as stated above, references correspond to Paul Deussen’s German edition of Arthur Schopenhauers Sämtliche Werke, published by A. Piper, München 1912–1913. The first number in brackets after the abbreviated title, refers to Schopenhauer’s original edition, as indicated above; the second number to Deussen’s edition, from which it is quoted here. The text under 0.32 (Ch. II) from On The Basis Of Morality, pertaining to Grundprobleme der Ethik, is quoted from Col. Payne’s translation published by Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis, 1965.
Particular thanks are due to Lt. Col. E. F. J. Payne, not only for his kind consent to the use of his masterly translations, but also for his friendly help and advice as well as his valuable suggestions for improving of the linguistic form of this volume written by one for whom English is not his mother tongue.
Buddhist Texts and their Abbreviations
Quotations have been adapted mainly from the editions of the Pali Text Society Translation Series (London). Editions of the Buddhist Publication Society (Kandy) have also been freely used. For the translations from Dhammapada the author has consulted various editions and versions. Translations from Suttanipāta facing Schopenhauer’s texts 5.15—5.18 (Ch. iv) are from E. M. Hare, Woven Cadences (P.T.S. ed.)
Numerical Classification of Schopenhauer’s texts
0.1—0.36 -- Texts on Buddhism
1.1—1.5 -- On the First Noble Truth—Suffering
2.1—2.14 -- On the Second Noble Truth—Cause of Suffering
3.1—3.9 -- On the Third Noble Truth—Cessation of Suffering
4.1—4.21 -- On the Fourth Noble Truth—“The Road to Salvation “
5. 1—5.18 -- Additional analogies
- “For so long have vain and fruitless attempts at philosophy been made, because men looked for it on the path of science instead of on that of art. Therefore no art boasts of such egregious bungling as does the art of philosophy. Men tried to consider the Why instead of the What; they strove for the distant instead of seizing what is everywhere close at hand; they went outwards in all directions instead of entering into themselves where every riddle can be solved … The philosopher should never forget that he is cultivating an art and not a science.”  F.M.  p. 154, §259
Faut-il mourir pour Danzig? (“Do we have to die for Danzig?”) exclaimed a French social philosopher in 1939 when the German occupation of this sensitive point on the north-eastern shores of Europe, held at that time by Poland, became the signal for a new world war. Arthur Schopenhauer, who since the late 19th century has been the most widely read German and European philosopher, was born in Danzig, in 1788. At that time Danzig was a free Hanseatic city, but in 1793 it was captured by the militarist German state of Prussia. Schopenhauer’s father, a rich merchant, considering freedom as the best safeguard of prosperity, decided to transfer his business to the still independent Hanseatic city of Hamburg. At the age of nine, Arthur was sent for two years to France, where he stayed at Le Havre with a family of a business friend of his father who wished to educate his son for an international business career. Arthur, however, since childhood had shown a preference for a study of the classics. To win him over to continue the family business, his father offered him, at the age of fifteen, a choice either of a regular school training in the humanities, or of a pleasure trip through Europe and England with his parents for a few years. Arthur could not resist such a temptation, but he never regretted it, for he considered that “seeing and having experience were just as necessary as reading and study.” The journey included a lengthy stay at Wimbledon for the purpose of learning English.
Soon after, in 1805, his father, died in tragic circumstances and his mother, a writer of fiction and fond of an easy way of living, moved to Weimar, then the cultural centre of Germany. There, among other celebrities, Goethe became a friend of the Schopenhauer family. He was best able to discern a touch of genius in the boy’s character and the boy on his part remained a lifelong admirer of the poet’s penetrating approach to the serious problems of existence.
A deep and ineradicable veneration for his father made him resentful of his mother. Anxious to regain the years lost for a regular secondary course in the humanities, he embarked on an intensive course of study and made good the loss in two years. At the age of twenty he was qualified to enter the university. For the first two years he studied medicine, and then took up definitely the study of philosophy, at the University of Berlin. In 1813, he presented to the University of Jena his dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, for which he was made a Doctor of Philosophy. Schopenhauer’s thesis is based on a critical revision of the theory of categories in Kant’s philosophy. Kant’s twelve categories (or “pure concept of the understanding”) are reduced to only one: causality. In his extensive Criticism of the Kantian Philosophy, at the end of WWR I, Schopenhauer pointed out that Kant’s conception of the whole problem still remained too strongly influenced by the typically European, Aristotelian and Scholastic tradition, and that he was unable to renounce the idea of a “first cause” in the “chain of causes and effects,” but still felt tempted to consider this idea in connexion with the ideas of God, of the immortality of the soul and of the freedom of the will as necessarily innate in the very nature of human Reason. To dispel this error, Schopenhauer, in his main work (W.W.R.), used against Kant the historical argument of Indian philosophies, essential especially to Buddhism (cf. text 0. 13 and 5.10 below). This argument was still missing in the dissertation, but the basic idea of an “interdependent arising” is already clearly stated with the words: “Nothing exists for itself and independent, nothing single and detached.” From the very beginning this idea is widely elaborated in Schopenhauer’s philosophy on the same lines on which he will ultimately identify it explicitly with the Buddhist standpoint.
From 1814 to 1818, Schopenhauer lived in Dresden where he wrote his main work, The World as Will and Representation. Its basic ideas, as far as they pertain to the subject of our comparative study of Schopenhauer from a Buddhist view-point, will be singled out in the following chapter, on Schopenhauer’s approach to Indian philosophy. As soon as the book was published (and it was to remain unknown and ignored for a long time), Schopenhauer went for a pleasure trip to Italy, but after a year he had to return home on account of unexpected financial difficulties with a firm in which his inherited capital was invested. Afraid that he might suffer a considerable loss, and thus be unable to live as a free-lance author, he decided to take the post of lecturer at Berlin University.His financial crisis was soon settled to his advantage. As for his lecturer’s career, it turned out to be a complete failure, because he rashly attempted to antagonize Hegel, who at the time was at the peak of his career as “the state’s philosopher” in Berlin.
After a second journey to Italy, Schopenhauer returned to Berlin, the city of his most bitter experiences, and stayed there until 1831. Then, as a result of an epidemic of cholera, one of whose victims was Hegel, he left Berlin forever. In 1833, he ultimately settled in Frankfurt am Main, where, living alone “as a hermit” and dedicating the rest of his life to his philosophical meditations and writing, he remained until his death, in 1860.
In 1844, he published the second volume of the WWR; only 15 years later, in the 3rd edition of the complete work, did this bring him well-merited fame. In the meantime the appearance of two volumes of essays, Parerga and Paralipomena in 1815, marked the beginning of a wider interest in his philosophy among an increasing number of intelligent and unprejudiced readers, most of whom were not professional philosophers. Outstanding artists were always most appreciative of his ideas on spiritual emancipation through art, and on the art of living.
Though he spent nearly thirty years as a well-to-do man in his house in Frankfurt, his rooms always gave visitors the impression of a wayfarer’s temporary residence. And though in his later years the circle of his friends and followers began to grow, his best friend remained his dog, a poodle named Atma (in Schopenhauer’s conception the impersonal, eternally renewed primordial force of nature, in the sense so beautifully described in his simile of saṃsāra as a waterfall, see texts 5.6–5.7, ch. iv, below.)
Among the few objects characteristic of the homely atmosphere of his apartment was a small gilded statue of the Buddha. When his housekeeper, a staunch Catholic spinster, first saw it, she asked in astonishment what it was. “It is the Victoriously Awakened One,” said Schopenhauer.
Unfortunately, introducing Schopenhauer to Buddhist readers nowadays requires in the first place an answer to the “reproach of pessimism.” This typical objection is as unjust and misleading as it is shallow and vulgar. Yet it has become a standardized formula defensively applied by some modern Buddhist authors who are not directly acquainted with Schopenhauer’s thought and with the extent of his Buddhist inspiration. They state that Schopenhauer, as a “pessimistic” thinker, did understand dukkha, or the Noble Truth of Suffering, but was ignorant of the teaching of the Buddha to its full and proper extent; that he was not fit to ask the question about the cause of suffering, not to speak of the ultimate question about the possibility of a way out, or a solution to his own pessimistic problem. In simple untechnical terms, this acknowledgement grants to Schopenhauer the privilege of standing at a level of intelligence just above that of an idiot as far as he was able to realise his own problem, but not of inquiring about its reasons, or even of looking for help. The criterion of the present selection—Schopenhauer’s philosophical analysis of the essential problems regarding all the Four Noble Truths—on whose understanding the teaching of the Buddha is based—was adopted mainly for the purpose of dispelling such prejudices about the proper meaning of the term “pessimism” in the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, the “father of pessimism.” This documentation is preceded by a chapter containing Schopenhauer’s direct references to Buddhism.
From these texts the reader will learn in Schopenhauer’s own words to what extent and within what limits his standpoint of pessimism is deduced from the immanent structure of the world, and how it refers to the “worldliness of the world” exclusively, or to the nature of saṃsāra. This Buddhist term was adopted by Schopenhauer explicitly in his deduction of the basic idea that pessimism in this connexion is the indispensable motive for urging the human mind on the path of liberation, in the direct adequate and literal meaning of the term Nibbāna as extinction, and not as a “realm” of “divine” happiness for the hedonist wretch, for whose sake the opposite theory of “optimism” was invented and introduced previously by the European court-philosopher, Leibniz. Schopenhauer’s positive intention was also to defend genuine Christianity from such optimistic falsifications which even at that time were detrimental to European civilization that is liable to become a prey to materialism. With reference to the proper meaning of the term pessimism the attention of the reader is drawn particularly to the following texts.
1.4 Basic text for the refutation of the optimistic philosophy of Leibniz. See also 3.2.
4.16 —The educational aspect of the problem.
0.16 —Schopenhauer’s interpretation, in Buddhist terms, of the pessimistic attitude to the world as saṃsāra, as the necessary condition for the realization of Nibbāna.
On account of such deep-rooted historical prejudices against the basic tenets of Schopenhauer’s philosophy, it might be useful, in connexion with the comparative subject of this essay, to point out yet another danger leading to a misunderstanding of his “single thought” at the very outset as a result of some superficial and negative sources of “general information” in these matters. Such prejudices are more popular with direct reference to Schopenhauer, than is his authentic thought. This refers to the meaning of the basic term will in Schopenhauer’s philosophy.
It alrdy appears from our text, I.I, at the beginning of the chapter on suffering, that by this specific term “the-will-to-live” is meant, and that it is identified and explained here and elsewhere as “an unquenchable thirst” whose “basis is need, want and hence pain.” The identity of meaning with the corresponding Buddhist term for “thirst” or “craving”—taṇhā —needs no further authentication for our present purpose. That Schopenhauer’s negation of the “will-to-live” does not by any means prejudice the injunction of the ascetic ideal of “right effort” sammāvāyāmo on the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddha), will be quite evident from Schopenhauer’s texts on that subject (e.g. 4.3, Ch. III).
The purpose of the present selection is to give one profile of Schopenhauer’s philosophy in a cross-section through his works. No explicit differential analysis of ideas could be undertaken within this prima facie documentary framework either as regards the delimitation of Buddhist elements of thought in Schopenhauer’s system from those closer to his (earlier) Vedantic inspiration (from the Upanishads), or with reference to a delimitation between Indian and European ways of thought in general, or even in the particular case of Schopenhauer’s own remarkable comparativistic attempts to co-ordinate both into a universal whole. The introductory explanation on the development of Schopenhauer’s approach to Indian philosophy are meant primarily to facilitate a historical orientation throughout his works.
Schopenhauer’s approach to Indian philosophy
Even the first volume of Arthur Schopenhauer’s main work, The World As Will And Representation, which appeared in 1819 (25 years before the second, supplementary volume), is interspersed from its preface to the last paragraph with quotations from Indian wisdom and reflections on these, almost as profusely as with quotations from “Stoic Sages” and other ancient authors of a kindred inspiration, as to whose oriental provenience Schopenhauer had no doubts. The fundamental ideal of Stoic ethics, “like that of Cynism from which it sprang”, the ideal of ataraxia (imperturbability) or apatheia (“apathy,” literally “non-suffering”), as well as the ideal of epoche, or “suspension of judgement” in a disinterested contemplation, corresponding to upekkhā in Buddhism, brought from India by Pyrrho of Elis, who was in the philosophers’ retinue of Alexander the Great—this whole complex of ideas in the later Greek and Roman philosophy appears to Schopenhauer as a “colossal paradox” from any view-point except that of Eastern, specifically Indian, asceticism. (cf. W.W.R. II, pp. 158–9; pp. 1; 51; 64) Therefore Schopenhauer’s references to Indian wisdom often appear alongside those taken from Greek and Roman sources of the closest and most congenial origin.
It is, however, stated quite explicitly even in the preface and first paragraph of The World as Will and Representation, that Indian analogies in Schopenhauer’s system of thought are not confined solely to this historical coincidence. His first reference to India in the preface has been most improperly used by superficial Euro-centrists to deny the importance of Indian influences on his system as a whole. As a matter of fact, Schopenhauer states in this wellknown passage that his thought has been shaped first by Kant, then by Plato and finally by Indian philosophy:
- “Kant’s philosophy is therefore the only one with which a thorough acquaintance is positively assumed in what is to be here discussed. But if in addition to that the reader has dwelt for a while in the school of the divine Plato, he will be the better prepared to hear me, and the more susceptible to what I say. But if he has shared the benefits of the Vedas, access to which, open to us by the Upanishads, is in my view the greatest advantage which this still young century has to show over previous centuries …; if I say, the reader has also already received and assimilated the divine inspiration of ancient Indian wisdom, then he is best of all prepared to hear what I have to say to him.”
It appears obvious from Schopenhauer’s own delimitation of this last source of his inspiration that it should not be disregarded as the least important: “Did it not sound too conceited, I might assert that each of the individual and disconnected utterances that make up the Upanishads could be derived as a consequence from the thought I am to impart, although conversely my thought is by no means to be found in the Upanishads.”
Within such broad lines of his preliminary orientation, Schopenhauer’s estimate of the fragmentary value of the Upanishads for his own systematic purpose has already to be assumed as correct in view of the historical structure of this archaic compilation of Indian wisdom. Apart from this, I propose to show in the following survey that what may be stated more or less correctly concerning the influence of the Upanishads on the shaping of Schopenhauer’s philosophical thought in its earlier stage, cannot be affirmed with equal right as regards the importance of the Buddhist analogy and the visible expansion of its influence throughout: the further and later elaboration of his system of philosophy in its historical fulfilment.
It seems to me that the longest text on Buddhism, included under 0.22 below, from the 2nd edition (1847) of the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, beginning with a differentiation from Brahmanism, can be taken as the safest landmark for determining the time when the transition from a predominantly Vedantic to a prevalently Buddhist orientation was accomplished, particularly since this text already comprises the widest scope of Schopenhauer’s basic information on both the Theravada and Mahayana sources, including the translation of Mahāvaṃsa and other interesting evidence on the earliest confrontation of Buddhism in Ceylon with the alien ideas on religion of colonial conquerors (Dutch period, middle of the 18th century). In the next 15 years, Schopenhauer was to add to his Buddhist bibliography (see 0.9) only a few more works on the Sinhalese Theravada with new translations from the same sources.
Unlike the “disconnected utterances that make up the Upanishads,” in the case of the teaching of the Buddha the congeniality with Schopenhauer’s ideal of philosophy appears in the inner structure of his “single thought” when compared with the “central conception” claimed to be “the peculiar property of the Buddhas,” as we shall show.
“What has to be imparted [by this book) is a single thought … A system of thought must always have an architectonic connexion or coherence, that is to say, a connexion in which one part always supports the other, though not the latter the former; in which the foundation-stone carries all the parts without being carried by them; and in which the pinnacle is upheld without upholding. On the other hand, a single thought, however comprehensive, must preserve the most perfect unity. If, all the same, it can be split up into parts for the purpose of being communicated, then the connexion of these parts must once more be organic, i.e., of such a kind that every part supports the whole just as it is supported by the whole; a connexion in which no part is first and no part is last, in which the whole gains in clearness from every part, and even the smallest part cannot be fully understood until the whole has been first understood.” (W.W.R. I, Preface to the 1st. edition)
It has often been noted in the West that the same difficulty is not so evident in earlier Asian attempts at the monolithic and organic forming not only of famous Indian rock and cave temples (see Ajanta and Ellora) but also of philosophical ideas, at least in the prescholastic stage. Schopenhauer was also aware of this fact when, with reference to Buddhism, he praised the oldest religions as being, just like the oldest languages, the most perfect. Thus, the confrontation of Schopenhauer’s “single thought” with “the teaching which is the peculiar property of the Buddhas” (yā buddhānaṃ sāmukkaṃsikā dhammadesanā) or the “central conception” of the Buddha (an expression used ever more frequently even as a typified title for books and articles, since Stcherbatsky coined it) is capable of producing its striking effect on the reader mainly on account of the simplicity of its expression. Schopenhauer’s “single thought”: “The will-to-live” is “the being-in-itself” of the world. Its nature is “thirst,” “craving” and therefore suffering. Consequently, the essential problem of this philosophy is only one: Liberation from suffering by the “denial of the will-to-live.” This is “the road to salvation.”
The Teaching peculiar to the Buddhas (“Awakened Ones”): “I teach only suffering and the liberation from suffering.”—Suffering is due to “thirst” for life or “craving.”—“As the ocean has only one taste, that of salt, so has my teaching only one taste, that of liberation.” Another question of historical importance for our documentation is, how far the translation of the Upanishads was the exclusive “first source” of Schopenhauer’s information on Indian philosophical and religious wisdom. It is well known and no longer difficult to verify in the history of European Indology that Schopenhauer, like his older contemporaries Goethe and Schelling, had attended the lectures of Prof. Friedrich Maier, who at the beginning of the 19th century was one of the best known German orientalists. At that time Schopenhauer was writing and submitting to the University of Jena his doctor’s thesis. In the same year, 1813, he obtained from Maier his copy of the Oupnek’hat, a Latin translation of the Upanishads by Anquetil-Duperron through an excellent and most carefully edited Persian version. (Schopenhauer was always ready to emphasise its superiority to later direct renderings by European scholars, which appeared during his lifetime.)
- “In my hands and still more in my mind there is developing a work, a philosophy, which is to be ethics and metaphysics in one, for hitherto these were just as falsely separated as was man into body and soul. The work expands and the parts grow together slowly and by degrees like a child in the womb. I do not know which was the first and which was the last to come into existence … I who sit here and whom my friends know, do not understand the origin of this work, just as the mother does not understand that of the child in her womb … Chance, ruler of this material world, let me live in peace for a few more years, for I love my work as a mother does her child. When it is mature and has been born, you may exercise your right and exact tribute for the reprieve. But if in this stern age I die before my time, then may these immature beginnings, these studies of mine, be given to the world as they are and for what they are. One of these days, perhaps, a kindred spirit will appear who will know how to put the parts together and restore the antique.” (F. M.  p. 55, §92)
Later on in the same Early Manuscripts we find the first reference to Indian wisdom in 1814, five years before his main work was published. It is a foot-note quotation from Oupnekk’hat in connexion with the central problem of Schopenhauer’s philosophy, on the “spectator of that whole tragedy of life” (p. 106, §191)
In the immediately following §192 (p. 107) there is already expressed the thought that is singled out above in the context of the first paragraph of the first volume of The World as Will and Representation:
- “The wiser Indians started from the subject, from ātmā, jīvātma. If, after the manner of the Indians, we start from the subject, the world together with the principle of sufficient reason ruling it suddenly stands before us, no matter from which side we begin to consider it. If we start from the object and build, as we must do, one stone on another with the mortar of the principle of sufficient reason, then we are never able to find the foundation on which the building is to rest or the top which is to carry the building’s wreath.”
In the same year (§213, p: 120) the first mention is made of māyā which is destined to become the technical term for a corner-stone of Schopenhauer’s system and thus the first Indian notion to become popular in modern European philosophy. In this first reference the idea of māyā appears in contraposition to the ideal of liberation from suffering:
- “This release from willing occurs through better knowledge, and so Oupnek’hat, vol. II, p. 216, says: tempore quo cognitio simul advenit amor e medio supersurrexit (“the moment knowledge appeared on the scene, thence did desire abate”); here by amor (desire) is meant māyā, which is just that willing, that love (for the object), whose objectification or appearance is the world. As the fundamental error it is at the same time, so to speak, the origin of evil and of the world (which are really one and the same.)”
In the next reference (§234 p. 136) māyā is defined as the “inward moving force of the corporeal world.” In the notes of the following two years (1815 and 1816) this definition is further elaborated in connexion with Kant’s philosophy and other basic topics of Schopenhauer’s main thought. But these earliest references may suffice to show how deep the first impact of Indian thought was on Schopenhauer at the “very time when the idea of his whole system was beginning to germinate in his mind.”
A further critical and differential analysis of the term māyā in the early stage of Schopenhauer’s philosophy and throughout the first volume of The World As Will And Representation, the expansion of its philosophical meaning, would be interesting from our standpoint for yet another reason. At later stages it can be clearly seen how this expansion of the Vedantic idea of māyā subsided and its world-creating meaning was taken over by the more explicitly Buddhist connotation of the term saṃsāra. It is interesting to note in the index to both volumes of the W.W.R. that sixteen references to the term māyā are listed from the first volume, and only two from the second (i.e. 25 years later), while the word saṃsāra is mentioned only once in the first volume. All references to it in the Index to both volumes refer to specifically Buddhist contexts which will be quoted in our next chapter.
In addition to the above-mentioned references there are more than 20 to India which are of importance in the formation of Schopenhauer’s thought at the same period. The source of most of them is not the Oupnek’hat. They comprise a much wider area of topics and different layers of historical development, in Schopenhauer’s own specific statement with reference to the Asiatic Researches of which he was a regular reader, “works of the Saugatas, Buddhas, Arhatas, Jainas and other heterodox philosophers.” Besides his earliest references to Buddhism, it is particularly interesting to note also his clear distinction between the Vedantic tradition of the Upanishads and the Saiva religion, where he is particularly interested in the Lingam Cult. Through it he implicitly discovered the deeper Buddhist idea that “not-dying” is not equivalent to the Christian “immortality” (as in the inadequate Nibbāna = ambrosia theory of Mrs. C. A. F. Rhys-Davids), but purely and simply a causal correlative to the fact of “no longer being born.”
“Dying and generating are inseparable correlatives, merely two aspects of one thing, namely of life, i.e. of the preservation of form and of the giving up of matter. The Lingam is therefore the attribute of Siva. Now just as our life, as a process of nourishment, is a constant generating, a renewal of form, so is it also a constant dying, a throwing off of matter.” F.M. (1815) §474, p. 317
“The two opposite views of death and the kinds of immortality have been able to find expression in Europe only at two periods and in two countries very remote from each other. The Indians, however, combined the two views by simultaneously teaching the liberation from life as the supreme good and worshipping the Lingam.” F.M. (1815) §499, p. 337 Not much later than these statements, in 1816 we find close to one another a few characteristic observations in which a clear differentiation between “Brahmanism and Buddhism” assumes its first form.
A few pages later there follows the first reference to Buddhism at the end of the lengthy and significant paragraph 612 which is reproduced in our next chapter under 0.II. At the beginning of 1817 (§646), a clearer definition of Nibbāna by the Buddha is quoted (0.26, in the next chapter):
Though the first reference is rather vague with regard to the importance that the notion of Nibbāna will subsequently acquire in Schopenhauer’s system, the source of his information, as always, is very concisely indicated. It was the Theravada Buddhism of the Burmese.
Besides the general prejudice that Schopenhauer’s knowledge of Indian religions and philosophies was limited to a few early and unreliable European reports, mainly of Vedantic origin (the Upanishads), it was arbitrarily assumed by earlier uninterested and even hostile historians of philosophy that his acquaintance with Buddhism came late in life and was limited to some second-hand information of the “Mahāyāna.” A glance at his own bibliographical Selection of the Best Books on Buddhism, among “numerous works on this religion”, in 0.9. shows that here again the very opposite of this is the truth. Besides the Asiatic Researches (issues as early as 1799 are quoted by Schopenhauer), it can be seen from the same list that in the middle period of his lifelong and careful studies of these problems there followed a better acquaintance with the Mahāyāna sources, mainly of Tibetan Buddhism, thanks to the outstanding scholarly services rendered to the promotion of Asian studies by the Russian St. Petersburg Academy. The high standard of the internationally organized research work carried out by this Academy and the fundamental importance, even today, of some works, especially the Sanskrit Dictionary (in seven volumes) and the famous series of the Bibliotheca Buddhica, should be better known and appreciated by Buddhists in Asia. It should not be forgotten that the first Pali grammar published in Europe was by the St. Petersburg academician L. P. Minayeff (French translation published in 1874), and that Vassilief’s book on Buddhism for a long period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries ranked with the best known sources of general knowledge on the subject in several European languages (particularly in French and German). The books published in the 20th century (down to 1930) by the leading scholar of that Academy, Th. Stcherbatsky, and his collaborators (Rosenberg, Obermüller) on special problems of Buddhist philosophy (Buddhist Logic and Epistemology, Nirvana, and detailed analyses of Abhidhamma terms and implicit philosophical questions) may rightly be considered as the most concise Buddhist studies that the West has produced down to the present time.
As a sample of the high standard of research work on Buddhism at its Asian sources, in Schopenhauer’s day, we shall have to be content with the specimen quoted by him from Csoma Korosi’s first-hand translations from the Tibetan Kangyur (0. 8). It is easy to see that the subject and purpose of that text are the same as are contained in the Kevaððha Sutta, DN 11, of the Pali Sutta Piþaka.
Finally, in the later phase of Schopenhauer’s life and work, when he was preparing the 2nd volume of the W.W.R., the influence on him of the Theravada Pali Buddhism, from its first hand Sinhalese sources again became stronger, as can be seen from the note at the end of his bibliographical list (0.9).
0.1 “It almost seems that, as the oldest languages are the most perfect, so too are the oldest religions. If I wished to take the results of my philosophy as the standard of truth, I should have to concede to Buddhism pre-eminence over the others. In any case, it must be a pleasure to me to see my doctrine in such close agreement with a religion that the majority of men on earth hold as their own, for this numbers far more followers than any other.” WWR II, 169, Ch. XVII
0.2 “It is a thoroughly established fact that Buddhism in particular, the religion with the greatest number of representatives on earth, contains no theism, indeed rejects it out of hand.” W.W.R. I, 486
0.4“… the true spirit and kernel of Christianity, as of Brahmanism and Buddhism also, is the knowledge of the vanity of all earthly happiness, complete contempt for it, and the turning away to an existence of quite a different, indeed, an opposite, kind … Therefore, atheistic Buddhism is much more closely akin to Christianity than are optimistic Judaism and its variety, Islam.” W.W.R. II, 444, Ch. XXXVIII
0.5“… so for a thorough understanding of Christianity, a knowledge is required of the other two world-denying religions, Brahmanism and Buddhism; moreover as sound and accurate a knowledge as possible. For just as in the first place Sanskrit gives us a really thorough understanding of Greek and Latin, so do Brahmanism and Buddhism enable us to understand Christianity.” P.P. II, (316) 415, §179
0.6“The fundamental difference in religions is to be found in the question whether they are optimistic or pessimistic, certainly not whether they are monotheistic, polytheistic, Trimurti, Trinity, pantheistic, or atheistic (like Buddhism).” P.P. II. (320) 422, §181
0.7“These three religions of China, of which the most widespread is Buddhism; this religion subsists merely through its own strength without any protection from the state, a fact which speaks greatly in its favour … all three are neither monotheistic, nor polytheistic, nor are they pantheistic, at any rate Buddhism is not. For the Buddha did not regard as a theophany a world steeped in sin and suffering, whose beings are all doomed to die and exist for a short time by devouring one- another.” Über den Willen in der Natur, (120) 412
0.8 “Up till 1818, when my work appeared, there were to be found in Europe only a very few accounts of Buddhism, and these extremely incomplete and inadequate, confined almost entirely to a few essays in the earliest volumes of the Asiatic Researches, and principally concerned with the Buddhism of the Burmese: Only since that time has fuller information about this religion gradually reached us, chiefly through the profound and instructive articles of that meritorious member of the St. Petersburg Academy, I. J. Schmidt, in the records of his Academy, and then in the course of time through several English and French scholars, so that I have been able to furnish a fairly numerous list of the best works on this religion in my book On The Will In Nature under the heading Sinology. Unfortunately, Csoma Korosi, that steadfast and assiduous Hungarian who, in order to study the language and sacred writings of Buddhism, spent many years in Tibet and particularly in Buddhist monasteries, was carried off by death just as he was beginning to work out for us the results of his investigations.
But I cannot deny the pleasure with which I read in his preliminary accounts several passages from the Kangyur itself, for example, the following discourse of the dying Buddha with Brahma who is paying him homage. There is a description of their conversation on the subject of creation. By whom was the world made? Shākya asks several questions of Brahma, whether was it he, who made or produced such and such things, and endowed or blessed them with such and such virtues or properties, whether was it he who caused the several revolutions in the destruction and regeneration of the world. He denies that he had ever done anything to that effect. At last he himself asks Shākya (the Buddha) how the world was made—by whom? Here are attributed all changes in the world to the moral works of the animal beings, and it is stated that in the world all is illusion, there is no reality in the things; all is empty. Brahma being instructed in his doctrine, becomes his follower.” Asiatic Researches, Vol. XX, p. 434. W.W.R. II, 169—170; Ch. XVII
0.9“For the benefit of those who wish to acquire a fuller knowledge of Buddhism, I will here note those works which belong to its literature and are written in European languages and which I can really recommend, as I possess them and am familiar with them …”
- 10 Burnouf, Introduction A L‘Histoire Du Bouddhisme, 1844.
- 11 Rgya Tsher Relpa, trad. du Tibetain par Foucaux, 1848. “This is the Lalitavistara, i.e., the life of the Buddha, the Gospel of the Buddhists.” :15 and 16: two books of Buddhist texts with Latin translations by Spiegel, 1841. :17 Asiatic Researches, vol. 6. Buchanan, “On the Religion of the Burmans.”
- 18 Sangermano. The Burmese Empire, Rome 1833.
- 19 Turner, The Mahavamsa, Ceylon 1836.
- 20 Upham, The Mahavansi, Raja Ratnacari and Rajavali, 3 vol., 1833.
- 21 Upham, Doctrine of Buddhism, 1829.
- 22 Spence Hardy, Eastern Monachism, 1850.
- 23 Spence Hardy, Manual of Buddhism, 1853.
“These two excellent books, written after a stay of twenty years in Ceylon and from the instruction of the priests there, have given me more insight into the true nature of the Buddhist dogma than have any others.” Über den Willen in der Natur, (119–120) 409–410, Chapter on Sinology
0.10 “As a rule, the death of every good person is peaceful and gentle; but to die willingly, to die gladly, to die cheerfully, is the prerogative of the resigned, of him who gives up and denies the will-to-live. For he alone wishes to die actually and not merely apparently, and consequently needs and desires no continuance of his person. He willingly gives up the existence that we know; what comes to him instead of it is in our eyes nothing, because our existence in reference to that one is nothing. The Buddhist faith calls that existence Nirvana, that is to say, extinction.”
Schopenhauer’s footnote to this text: “The etymology of the word Nirvana is given in various ways. According to Colebrooke (Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. I, p. 566), it comes from va, ‘to blow’ like the wind, with the prefixed negative nir; hence it signifies a lull or calm, but as adjective ‘extinguished.’ Obry, Du Nirvana Indien, p. 3, says: ‘Nirvanam in Sanskrit literally means extinction, e.g., as of a fire.’ According to the Asiatic Journal, vol. XXIV p. 735, it is really Neravana, from nera, ‘without,’ and vana ‘life’ and the meaning would be annihilatio. In Spence Hardy’s Eastern Monachism, p. 295, Nirvana is derived from vana, ‘sinful desires,’ with the negative nir. I. J. Schmidt, in his translation of the History of the Eastern Mongolians, p. 30, says that the Sanskrit Nirvana is translated into Mongolian by a phrase meaning ‘departed from misery, escaped from misery.’ According to the same scholar’s lectures at the St. Petersburg Academy, Nirvana is the opposite of saṃsāra, which is the world of constant rebirths, of craving and desire, of the illusion of the senses, of changing and transient forms, of being born, growing old, becoming sick, and dying. In Burmese the word Nirvana, on the analogy of other Sanskrit words, is transformed into Nieban and is translated by ‘complete vanishing.’ See Sangermano’s Description of the Burmese Empire, transl. by Tandy, Rome 1833, §27. In the first edition of Nieban, I also wrote nieban, because at that time we knew Buddhism only from inadequate accounts of the Burmese.” W.W.R. II, 508–9, Ch. XLI
0.11 “But now let us turn our glance from our own needy and perplexed nature to those who have overcome the world and have wholly given up the will-to-live, in other words to the saints who, after the will hardly exists any more, only await the dissolution of its phenomenon, the body, and with this the complete decline and death of the will. We then see in them, instead of the restless pressure, the rapturous joy and violent suffering that make up the actions of the man who loves life, an unshakable calm and inner serenity, a state we cannot look at without yearning and which we are bound to acknowledge as infinitely superior and as the only right thing in face of which the emptiness of everything else becomes apparent … Thus in this way by considering saints, who of course are rarely brought to our notice in real life, but through history and through art with a truth that is better vouched for and manifestly evident, we will banish the sombre impression of that nothingness which stands out as the goal of all virtue and holiness and which we feared as children fear the dark: We shall do this instead of evading it, as is done by the Indians who in its place put meaningless words, such as Brahma, reabsorption in the primordial spirit, or the Buddhist Nieban (See Asiatic Researches and Oupnek’hat). What remains after the abolition of the will is assuredly nothing for those who still will; but for those whose will has turned, this very real world of ours with all its suns and galaxies is—nothing.” F.M. (1816) 411–412, §612
0.12 “… consequently, with life, the constant suffering and dying of individuals are certain to it. To free it from this is reserved for the denial of the will-to-live; through this denial, the individual will tear itself away from the stem of the species, and gives up that existence in it. We lack concepts for what the will now is; indeed we lack all data for such concepts. We can only describe it as that which is free to be or not to be the will-to-live. For the latter case, Buddhism describes it by the word Nirvana … It is the point that remains for ever inaccessible to all human knowledge precisely as such.” W.W.R. II, 560, Ch. XLIV
0.13 “That the return to an unconditioned cause, to a first beginning, is by no means established in the nature of our faculty of reason (as presumed by Kant. See also note to 3.1 Ch. III) is, moreover, proved in practice by the fact that the original religions of our race, which even now have the greatest number of followers on earth, I mean Brahmanism and Buddhism, neither know nor admit such assumptions but carry on to infinity the series of phenomena that condition one another. On this point … we can also look up Upham’s Doctrine of Buddhism (p. 9), and generally every genuine account of the religions of Asia.” W.W.R. I, 484
0.14 “Buddhism is free from that strict and excessive asceticism that plays a large part in Brahmanism, and thus from deliberate self-mortification. It rests content with celibacy, voluntary poverty, humility, and obedience of the monks, with abstinence from animal food, as well as from all worldliness … The moral virtues are not really the ultimate end, but only a step towards it. In the Christian myth, this step is expressed by the eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and this moral responsibility appears simultaneously with original sin. This original sin itself is in fact the affirmation of the will-to live; on the other hand, the denial of this will, in consequence of the dawning of better knowledge, is salvation. Therefore, what is moral is to be found between these two; it accompanies man as a light on his path from the affirmation to the denial of the will, or, mythically, from the entrance of original sin to salvation through faith in the mediation of the incarnate God (Avatar); or, according to the teaching of the Veda, through all the rebirths that are the consequence of the works in each case, until right knowledge appears, and with it salvation (final emancipation) moksha, i.e. reunion with Brahma. But the Buddhists with complete frankness describe the matter only negatively as Nirvana, which is the negation of this world or of Saṃsāra. If Nirvana is defined as nothing, this means only that saṃsāra contains no single element that could serve to define or construct Nirvana …
The holiness attaching to every purely moral action rests on the fact that ultimately such action springs from the immediate knowledge of the numerical identity of the inner nature of all living things. But this identity is really present only in the state of the denial of the will (Nirvana), as the affirmation of the will (saṃsāra) has for its form the phenomenal appearance of this in plurality and multiplicity. Affirmation of the will-to-live, the phenomenal world, diversity of all beings, individuality, egoism, hatred, wickedness, all spring from One root.” W.W.R. II, 614—610; Ch. XLVIII
This is Saṃsāra and everything therein denounces it; yet, more than anything else, the human world, where morally depravity and baseness, intellectual incapacity and stupidity prevail to a fearful extent. Nevertheless, there appear in it, although very sporadically yet always astonishing us afresh, phenomena of honesty, kindness, and even nobility, as also of great intellect, the thinking mind, and even genius. These never go out entirely, but glitter at us like isolated points that shine out of the great mass of darkness.We must take them as a pledge that, in this saṃsāra there lies hidden a good and redeeming principle, which can break through and inspire and release the whole.” P.P. II (184) 239, Senilia II
0.17 “Obviously these pantheists give to saṃsāra the name God; the mystics, on the other hand, give the same name to Nirvana. Of this, however, they relate more than they can know; this the Buddhists do not do, and so their Nirvana is just a relative nothing.” P.P. II. (86) 108–9, Senilia 115
0.18 “In the case of every man with whom we come in contact, we should not undertake an objective examination of his worth and dignity; and so we should not take into consideration the wickedness of his will, the limitation of his intellect, and the perversity of his notions; for the first could easily excite our hatred, and the last our contempt. On the contrary, we should bear in mind only his sufferings, his need, anxiety and pain. We shall then always feel in sympathy with him, akin to him, and, instead of hatred or contempt, we shall experience compassion; for this alone is the agape to which the Gospel summons us. In consequence of their deeper ethical and metaphysical views:, the Buddhists start not from the cardinal virtues, but from the cardinal vices, as the opposite or negation of which the cardinal virtues first make their appearance. According to I. J. Schmidt’s Geschichte der Ostmongolen, p. 7, the Buddhist cardinal vices are lust, idleness, anger and greed. But probably arrogance should take the place of idleness; they are stated thus in the Lettres Edifiantes Et Curieuses, édit. de 1819), vol. 6, p. 372, where, however, envy or hatred is added as a fifth.” P.P. II. (169–170) 221–2; §109
0.19 “Brahmanistic Dogmas and the distinctions of Brahm and Brahma, of Paramātma and Jivātma, Hiranya-garbha, Prajapati, Purusa, Prakrti, and the like … are at bottom merely mythological fictions, made for the purpose of presenting objectively that which has essentially and absolutely only a subjective existence. For this reason the Buddha dropped them and knows of nothing except Saísāra and Nirvana. For the more jumbled, confused and complex the dogmas became, the more mythological they were. The Yogi or Sanyasi best understands who methodically assumes the right posture, withdraws into himself all his senses, and forgets the entire world, himself included. What is then still left in his consciousness is primordial being. But this is more easily said than done.” P.P. II. (332) 436– 7, §189
0.20 “The purpose of the Buddha Sakyamuni, on the other hand, was to separate the kernel from the shell, to free the exalted teaching itself from all admixture with images and gods, and to make its pure intrinsic worth accessible and intelligible even to the people. In this he was marvellously successful, and his religion is therefore the most excellent on earth and is represented by the greatest number of followers.” P.P. II. (190) 247; §IIS 0.211
0.21 “The world is just a hell, and in it human beings are the tortured souls on the one hand, and the devils on the other. … Brahma produces the world through a kind of original sin, an aberration, but himself remains in it to atone for this until he has redeemed himself from it. This is quite a good idea! In Buddhism the world comes into being in consequence of an inexplicable disturbance (after a long period of calm) in the crystal clearness of the blessed and penitentially obtained state of Nirvana, and hence through a kind of fatality which, however, is to be understood ultimately in a moral sense; although the matter has its exact analogue and corresponding picture in physics, in the inexplicable arising of a primordial nebula, whence a sun is formed. Accordingly, in consequence of moral lapses, it also gradually becomes physically worse and worse until it has assumed its present sorry state.” P.P. II. (253–4) 325–6, §156
0.22 “… the knowledge of God, as the personal ruler and creator of the world who made everything well, is found simply and solely in the religious doctrine of the Jews and in the two faiths derived therefrom which in the widest sense might be called Jewish sects (i.e. Christianity and Mohammedanism), but it is not found in the religion of any other race, ancient and modern. For it will surely never occur to anyone to confuse Almighty God with, say, the Brahm of the Hindus who lives and suffers in you and in me, in my horse and in your dog, or even with Brahma who is born and dies to make way for other Brahmas and whose production of the world, moreover, is regarded as sin and guilt … But if we examine that religion which has the greatest number of followers on earth and thus the majority of mankind in its favour, and which in this respect can be regarded as foremost, namely Buddhism, we can now no longer disguise the fact that it is just as decidedly and expressly atheistic as it is strictly idealistic and ascetic. In fact it is atheistic to the extent that, when the doctrine of pure theism is brought to the notice of its priests, they expressly reject it out of hand. Thus in an article handed to a Catholic bishop by the high priest of the Buddhists at Ava (as reported in the Asiatic Researches, Vol. 6, p. 268 and also in Sangermano’s Description Of The Burmese Empire, p. 81), he reckoned as one of the six damnable heresies the doctrine ‘that a being exists who created the world and all things and who alone is worthy of worship’ … A hundred such examples could be quoted. But I wish to draw attention to yet another, because it is quite popular and indeed official. Thus the third volume of that very instructive Buddhist work, Mahāvansi, Raja-Ratnacari And Rajavali, from the Sinhalese by E. Upham, London, 1833, contains the official interrogatories, translated from Dutch reports, which the Dutch governor of Ceylon conducted with the high priests of the five principal pagodas separately and successively about the year 1766. The contrast between the interlocutors who cannot really reach an agreement is highly entertaining. Imbued with love for all living beings in accordance with the teachings of their religion, even if such beings should be Dutch governors, the priests show the greatest willingness in their efforts to give satisfactory answers to the governor’s questions… But the Dutch governor cannot possibly see that these priests are not theists. Therefore he always asks afresh about the supreme being, and then who created the world, and other such questions. But they are of the opinion that there cannot be any higher being than the triumphant Perfect One, the Buddha Sakya Muni who, though born a king’s son, voluntarily lived as a mendicant and to the end of his days preached: his sublime teaching for the redemption of mankind, in order to save us all from the misery of constant rebirth. They are of the opinion that the world is not made by anyone; that it is self-created; and that nature spreads it out and draws it in again. They say that it is that, which existing, does not exist; that it is the necessary accompaniment of rebirths; but that these are the consequences of our sinful conduct, and so on. And so these discourses continue for a hundred pages. I mention such facts mainly because it is positively scandalous how, even today … religion and theism are usually regarded without more ado as identical and synonymous; whereas religion is related to theism as the genus to a single species … Even the other two religions existing with Buddhism in China, those of Laotse and Confucius, are just as atheistic. This is precisely why the missionaries were unable to translate into Chinese the first verse of the Pentateuch, because that language has no expressions for God and creation…
Incidentally, it should be observed that the word atheism contains a surreptitious assumption, in that it assumes in advance that theism is self-evident. Über den Satz vom Grunde, 2nd ed., (119–122), 233–237.
0.23 “Therefore we naturally come, here on a kind of metempsychosis, though with the important difference that this does not affect the whole psyche, and hence the knowing being, but the will alone, whereby so many absurdities that accompany the doctrine of metempsychosis disappear … Accordingly the word palingenesis is more correct than metempsychosis for describing this doctrine … The proper doctrine of Buddhism, as we have come to know it through the most recent researches, also agrees with this view, since it teaches not metempsychosis, but a peculiar palingenesis resting on a moral basis, and it expounds and explains this with great depth of thought. This may be seen from the exposition of the subject, well worth reading and considering, given in Spence Hardy’s Manual Of Buddhism, p.p. 394–96, (with which are to be compared pp. 429, 440 and 445 of the same book). Confirmations of it are to be found in Taylor’s Prabodha Chanrodaya, London, 1812, p. 35; also in Sangermano’s Burmese Empire, p. 6, as well as In the Asiatic Researches, Vol. VI, p. 179. and Vol. IX, p. 256. The very useful German compendium of Buddhism by Koppen is also right on this point. Yet for the great mass of Buddhists this doctrine is too subtle; and so plain metempsychosis is preached to them as a comprehensible substitute.”  W.W.R. II, 502–3; Ch. XLI
0.24 “We might very well distinguish between metempsychosis as the transition of the entire so-called soul into another body, and palingenesis as the disintegration and new formation of the individual, since his will alone persists, and assuming the shape of a new being receives a new intellect and new formation of the individual, since his Will alone persists and, assuming the shape of a new being, receives a new intellect …
From Spence Hardy’s Manual of Buddhism… also from Sangermano’s Burmese Empire … as well as from the Asiatic Researches …, it appears that there are in Buddhism, as regards continued existence after death an exoteric and an esoteric doctrine. The former is just metempsychosis as in Brahmanism, but the latter is a palingenesis which is much more difficult to understand and is very much in agreement with my doctrine of the metaphysical permanence of the will …” P.P. II. (235) 302, §140, Senilia 65
0.25 “Now as we have recognised from the results of my philosophy the will’s turning away from life as the ultimate aim of temporal existence, we must assume that everyone is gradually led to this in a manner that is quite individually suited to him, and hence often in a long and roundabout way. Again, as happiness and pleasure militate against that aim, we see, in keeping therewith, misery and suffering inevitably interwoven in the course of every life, although in very unequal measure and only rarely to excess, namely in tragic events where it then looks as if the will should to a certain extent be forcibly driven to turn away from life and to arrive at regeneration by a Caesarian operation so to speak. Thus that invisible guidance that shows itself only in a doubtful form, accompanies us to our death, to that real result, and, to this extent, the purpose of life. At the. hour of death all the mysterious forces (although really rooted in ourselves) which determine man’s eternal fate, crowd together and come into action. The result of their conflict is the path now to be followed by him; thus his palingenesis is prepared together with all the weal and woe that are included therein and are ever afterwards irrevocably determined:” P.P. I. (211–212), 249–250
“To believe the doer of the deed will be the same as the one who experiences its results (in the next life): this is one extreme. To believe that the doer of the deed and the one who experiences its results are two different persons: this is the other extreme. Both these extremes the Perfect One has avoided and taught the truth that lies in the middle of both, to wit: ‘Dependent on ignorance are volitional formations; dependent on volitional formations, consciousness; dependent on consciousness, mentality-materiality; dependent on mentalitymateriality, the sixfold base (i.e. the five physical sense-organs and understanding (mano) as the sixth); dependent on the sixfold base, contact; dependent on contact, feeling; dependent on feeling, craving (‘thirst’, taṇhā); dependent on craving, clinging; dependent on clinging, the process of becoming (rebirth); dependent on becoming, ageing and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair come to pass. Thus does the whole mass of suffering arise.”’
0.26 “The myth of the transmigration of souls teaches that all sufferings inflicted in life by man on other beings must be expiated in a following life in this world by precisely the same sufferings. It goes to the length of teaching that a person who kills only once an animal, will be born as just such an animal at some point in endless time, and suffer the same death. It teaches that wicked conduct entails a future life in suffering and despised creatures in this world; that a person is accordingly born in lower castes, or as a woman, or as an animal, as a pariah or candala, as a leper, a crocodile, and so on. All the torments threatened by the myth are supported by it with perceptions from the world of reality, through suffering creatures that do not know how they have merited the punishment of their misery; and it does not need to call in the assistance of any other hell. On the other hand, it promises as reward rebirth in better and nobler forms, as Brahmans, sages or saints. The highest reward awaiting the noblest deeds and most complete resignation, can be expressed by the myth only negatively in the language of this world, namely by the promise so often occurring, of not being reborn any more: ‘You will not again assume phenomenal existence’ or as the Buddhists, admitting neither Vedas nor castes, express it: ‘You shall attain to Nirvana, in other words to a state or condition in which there are not four things, namely birth, old age, disease and death.’
Never has myth been, and never will one be, more closely associated with a philosophical truth accessible to so few, than this very ancient teaching of the noblest and oldest of peoples. Degenerate as this race may now be in many respects, this truth still prevails with it as the universal creed of the people … In India our religions will never at any time take root; the ancient wisdom of the human race will not be supplanted by the events in Galilee. On the contrary, Indian wisdom flows back to Europe, and will produce a fundamental change in our knowledge and our thought.” W.W.R. I, 356–7, §63
0.27 “The doctrine that all genuine moral qualities, good as well as bad, are innate is better suited to the metempsychosis of Brahmanism and Buddhism. According to this, ‘man’s good and evil deeds follow him, like his shadow, from one existence to another.’ … All this I know quite well.” P.P. II. (202) 261, §110
0.28 “For example, we can compare the Lalitavistara with the Gospel in so far, as it contains the life of Sakya Muni, the Buddha of the present world-period. But this remains something quite separate and distinct from the dogma and so from Buddhism itself, just because the lives of previous Buddhas were also quite different and those of future Buddhas will again be quite different … Therefore Lalitavistara is not a gospel in the Christian sense, no glad tidings of a fact of salvation, but the life of him who gave instructions as to how everyone could redeem himself. It is the historical nature of Christianity that makes the Chinese scoff at the missionaries as so many story-tellers.
Another fundamental defect of Christianity, to be mentioned in this connexion, and not to be explained away, … is that it has most unnaturally separated man from the Animal World, to which in essence he nevertheless belongs. It now tries to accept man entirely by himself and regards animals positively as Things, whereas Brahmanism, and Buddhism, faithful to truth, definitely recognize the evident kinship of man with the whole of nature in general and the animals in particular and represent him, by metempsychosis and otherwise, as being closely connected with the animal world.’ P.P. II. (310) 401, §177, Senilia 69
0.29 “In the Lalita-Vistara, well known as the life story of the Buddha Sakyamuni, it is related that, at the moment of his birth, all the sick throughout the world became well, all the blind saw, all the deaf heard, and all the insane ‘recovered their memory.’ This last is even mentioned in two passages.” W.W.R. II, 400; Ch. XXXII
0.30 Meister Eckhart: “A good man bears to God one creature in the other.”—He means that because, in and with himself, man also saves the animals, he makes use of them in this life … Even in Buddhism there is no lack of expressions of this matter; for example, when the Buddha, while still a Bodhisattva, has his horse saddled for the last time, for the flight from his father’s house into the wilderness, he says to the horse in verse: “Long have you existed in life and in death, but now you shall cease to carry and to draw. Bear me away from here just this once, O Kantakana, and when I have attained the Law (have become Buddha), I shall not forget you.” (Foe Koue Ki, transl. by Abel Remusat, p. 233) W.W.R. I, 381, §68
0.31 “Against the Christian doctrine of predestination and grace, as elaborated by Augustine, that guiding star of Luther, the matter assumes, with regard to the fact that genuine moral qualities are actually inborn, quite a different and moral rational significance under the Brahmanic and Buddhist assumption of metempsychosis. According to this, the advantage one man has at birth over another and thus what he brings with him from another world and a previous life, is not another’s gift of grace, but the fruit of his own deeds that were performed in that other world.” P.P. II. (307) 395–6, §177
0.32 “The Virtue of Loving-Kindness … was first theoretically mentioned, formulated as a virtue—indeed as the greatest of all virtues—and extended even to enemies by Christianity. This is Christianity’s greatest merit, although only in respect to Europe; for in Asia a thousand years earlier the boundless love of one’s neighbour had been the subject of theory and precept as well as of practice, in the Veda and Dharma-Shastra, Itihasa and Purāṇa, as well as the teaching of the Buddha Sakya-muni, never weary of preaching it.” On The Basis Of Morality, 161–3, §18
0.33 “If we go to the bottom of things, we shall recognize that even the most famous passages of the Sermon on the Mount contain an indirect injunction to voluntary poverty, and thus to the denial of the will-to-live … Accordingly, they state in an indirect manner just what the Buddha directly commands his followers to do and confirmed by his own example, namely to cast away everything and become Bhikkhus, that is to say, mendicants … These precepts afterwards became the foundation of the mendicant order of St. Francis … I say therefore that the spirit of Christian morality is identical with that of Brahmanism and Buddhism. In accordance with the whole view discussed here, Meister Eckhart also says …: ‘Suffering is the fleetest animal that bears you to perfection.’” W.W.R. II, 633, Ch. XLVIII
0.34 “In the same respect, it is noteworthy that the turning of St. Francis from prosperity to a beggar’s life is entirely similar to the even greater step of the Buddha Sakya-muni from prince to beggar, and that accordingly the life of St. Francis, as well as the order founded by him, was only a kind of Sannyasi existence. In fact, it is worth mentioning that his relationship with the Indian spirit also appears in his great love for animals, and his frequent association with them, when he always calls them his sisters and brothers …” W.W.R. II, 614, Ch. XLVIII
0.35 “... that utterance of the Saviour (Matthew XIX, 24): ‘Facilius est, funem ancorarium per foramen acus transire, quam divitem regnum divinum ingredi ‘, (It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God): Therefore those who were greatly in earnest about their eternal salvation, chose voluntary poverty when fate had denied this to them and they had been born in wealth. Thus Buddha Sakya Muni was born a prince, but voluntarily took to the mendicant’s staff; and Francis of Assisi, the founder of the mendicant orders…” P.P. II, (266) 346, §170
0.36 “In Buddhism all improvement, conversion, and salvation to be hoped from the world of suffering, from this samsara, proceed from knowledge of the four fundamental truths: (I) dolor, (2) doloris ortus, (3) doloris interitus, (4) octopartita via ad doloris sedationem. Dhammapada, ed. Fausboll pp. 35 and 347:” W.W.R. II, 623, Ch. XLVIII
The Four Noble Truths from the first discourse of the Buddha
“This, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of suffering: Birth is suffering, old age is suffering, death is suffering, association with the unloved is suffering, separation from the loved is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering, in short the five constituents of grasping are suffering. This, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: It is the thirst (for existence) which gives rise to rebirth, and, accompanied by pleasure and lust, takes delight in this and that object; namely thirst for sensuous delight, thirst for being and thirst for nonbeing. This, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering: It is the complete cessation, giving up, abandonment of that thirst, liberation and detachment. This, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: It is the noble eightfold way, namely: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.”
1.1 “We have already seen in nature-without-knowledge her inner being, as a constant striving without aim and without rest, and this stands out much more distinctly when we consider the animal or man. Willing and striving are its whole essence, and can be fully compared to an unquenchable thirst. The basis of all willing, however, is need, lack and hence pain, and by its very nature and origin it is therefore destined to pain.” W.W.R: I, 311–312, §5
1.2 “However varied the forms in which man’s happiness and unhappiness appear and impel him to pursuit or escape, the material basis of all this is nevertheless physical pleasure or pain. This basis is very restricted, namely health, nourishment, protection from wet and cold, and sexual satisfaction, or else the want of these things. Consequently, in real physical pleasure man has no more than the animal …” P.P. II, (249) 319–320, §153
1.3 “We have … recognized this striving, that constitutes the kernel and the in-itself of everything, as the same thing that in us, where it manifests itself most distinctly in the light of the fullest consciousness, is called Will.
We call its hindrance through an obstacle placed between it and its temporary goal suffering; its attainment of the goal, on the other hand, we call satisfaction, well-being, happiness. We can also transfer these names to those phenomena of the world-withoutknowledge which, though weaker in degree, are identical in essence. We then see these involved in constant suffering and without any lasting happiness. For all striving springs from want or deficiency, from dissatisfaction with one’s own state or condition, and is therefore suffering so long as it is not satisfied. No satisfaction, however, is lasting; on the contrary, it is always merely the starting point of a fresh striving. We see striving everywhere impeded in many ways, everywhere struggling and fighting, and hence always suffering. Thus that there is no ultimate aim of striving means that there is no measure or end of suffering … Therefore, in proportion as knowledge attains to distinctness, consciousness is enhanced, pain also increases, and consequently reaches its highest degree in man …” W.W.R. I, 309–310, §56
1.4 “This world is the battle-ground of tormented and agonized beings who continue to exist only by each devouring the other. Therefore, every beast of prey in it is the living grave of thousands of others, and its self-maintenance is a chain of torturing deaths. Then in this world the capacity to feel pain increases with knowledge, and therefore reaches its highest degree in man, a degree that is the higher the more intelligent the man. To this world the attempt has been made to adapt the system of optimism, and to demonstrate to us that it is the best of all possible worlds. The absurdity is glaring. However, an optimist tells me to open my eyes and to look at the world and see how beautiful it is in the sunshine with its mountains, valleys, rivers, plants, animals, and so on. But is the world, then, a peep-show? These things are certainly beautiful to Behold, but to Be them is something quite different. A teleologist then comes along and speaks to me in glowing terms about the wise arrangement by virtue of which care is taken that the planets do not run their heads against one another; that land and sea are not mixed up into pulp, but are held apart in a delightful way; also that everything is neither rigid in continual frost nor roasted with heat; likewise that, in consequence of the obliquity of the ecliptic, there is not an eternal spring in which nothing could reach maturity, and so forth. But this and everything like it are indeed conditiones sine quibus non. If there is to be a world at all, if its planets are to exist at least as long as is needed for the ray of light from a remote star to reach them, … then of course it could not be constructed so unskilfully that its very framework would threaten to collapse. But if we proceed to the Results of the applauded work, if we consider the Players who act on the stage so durably constructed, and then see how with sensibility pain makes its appearance, and increases in proportion as that sensibility develops to intelligence, and then how, keeping pace with this, desire and suffering come out ever more strongly, and increase, till at last human life affords no other material than that for tragedies and comedies, then whoever is not a hypocrite will hardly be disposed to break out into hallelujahs …
But against the palpably sophisticated proofs of Leibniz that this is the best of all possible worlds, we may even oppose seriously and honestly the proof that it is the Worst of all possible worlds. For 'possible' means not what we may picture in our imagination, but what can actually exist and last. Now this world is arranged as it had to be if it were capable of continuing with great difficulty to exist; if it were a little worse, it would be no longer capable of continuing to exist. Consequently, since a worse world could not continue to exist, it is absolutely impossible; and so this world itself is the worst of all possible worlds. For not only if the planets run their heads against one another, but also if any one of the actually occurring perturbations of their course continued to increase, instead of being gradually balanced again by the others, the world would soon come to an end. Astronomers know on what accidental circumstances—in most cases on the irrational relations to one another of the periods of revolution—all this depends. They have carefully calculated that it will always go on well, and consequently that the world can also last and go on. Although Newton was of the opposite opinion, we will hope that the astronomers have not miscalculated, and consequently that the mechanical perpetual motion realized in such a planetary system will also not, like the rest, ultimately come to a standstill. Again, powerful forces of nature dwell under the firm crust of the planet. As soon as some accident affords these free play, they must necessarily destroy that crust with everything living on it. This has occurred at least three times on our planet, and will probably occur even more frequently … The fossils of entirely different kinds of animal species which formerly inhabited the planet afford us, as proof of our calculation, records of whole worlds whose continuance was no longer possible, and which were in consequence somewhat worse than. the worst of possible worlds … Powerful as are the weapons of understanding and reason possessed by the human race, nine-tenths of mankind live in constant conflict with want, always balancing themselves with difficulty and effort on the brink of destruction. Thus throughout, for the continuance of the whole as well as for that of every individual being the conditions are sparingly and scantly given, and nothing beyond that …
At bottom, optimism is the unwarranted self-praise of the real author of the world, namely of the will-to-live which complacently mirrors itself in its work. Accordingly optimism is not only a false but also a pernicious doctrine, for it presents life as a desirable state and man’s happiness as its aim and object. Starting from this, everyone then believes he has the most legitimate claim to happiness and enjoyment. If, as usually happens, these do not fall to his lot, he believes that he suffers an injustice, in fact that he misses the whole point of his existence; whereas it is far more correct to regard work, privation, misery, and suffering, crowned by death, as the aim and object of our life (as is done by Brahmanism and Buddhism, and also by genuine Christianity), since it is these that lead to the denial of the will-to-live.” W.W.R. II, 581, Ch. XLVI
1.5 “The life of every individual, viewed as a whole and in general, and when only its most significant features are emphasized, is really a tragedy; but gone through in detail it has the character of a comedy. For the doings and worries of the day, the restless mockeries of the moment, the desires and fears of the week, the mishaps of every hour, are all brought about by chance that is always bent on some mischievous trick; they are nothing but scenes from a comedy. The never-fulfilled wishes, the frustrated efforts, the hopes mercilessly blighted by fate, the unfortunate mistakes of the whole life, with increasing suffering and death at the end, always give us a tragedy. Thus, as if fate wished to add mockery to the misery of our existence, our life must contain all the woes of tragedy, and yet we cannot even assert the dignity of tragic characters, but, in the broad detail of life, are inevitably the foolish characters of a comedy.
Now, however much great and small worries fill up human life, and keep it in constant agitation and restlessness, they are unable to mask life’s inadequacy to satisfy the spirit; they cannot conceal the emptiness and superficiality of existence, or exclude boredom which is always ready to fill up every pause granted by care. The result of this is that the human mind, still not content with the cares, anxieties and preoccupations laid upon it by the actual world, creates for itself an imaginary world in the shape of a thousand different superstitions. Then it sets itself to work with this in all kinds of ways, and wastes time and strength on it, as soon as the real world is willing to grant it the peace and quiet to which it is not in the least responsive. Hence this is at bottom most often the case with those people for whom life is made easy by the mildness of the climate and of the soil, above all the Hindus, then the Greeks and Romans, and later the Italians, Spaniards, and other …” W.W.R. I, 322–3, §58
2.1 “Thus knowledge in general, rational knowledge as well as mere knowledge from perception, proceeds originally from the will itself, belongs to the inner being of the higher grades of the will’s objectification as a mere Mechane [[[Wikipedia:mechanism|mechanism]]], a means for preserving the individual and the species, just like any organ of the body. Therefore, destined originally to serve the will for the achievement of its aims, knowledge remains almost throughout entirely subordinate to its service. This is the case with all animals and almost all men. However, we shall see in the third book how, in the case of individual persons, knowledge can withdraw from this subjection, throw off its yoke, and, free from all the aims of the will, exist, purely for itself, simply as a clear mirror of the world; and this is the source of art. Finally, in the fourth book we shall see how, if this kind of knowledge reacts on the will, it can bring about the will’s self-elimination, in other words, resignation. This is the ultimate goal, and indeed the innermost nature of all virtue and holiness, and of salvation from the world.” W.W.R. I, 152, §27
2.2 “Therefore, knowledge that serves the will really knows nothing more about objects than their relations, knows the objects only in so far as they exist at such a time, in such a place, in such and such circumstances, from such and such causes, and in such and such effects—in a word, as particular things. If all these relations were eliminated, the objects also would have disappeared for knowledge, just because it did not recognize in them anything else. We must also not conceal the fact that what the sciences consider in things is also essentially nothing more than all this, namely their relations, the connections of time and space, the causes of natural changes, the comparison of forms, the motives of events, and thus merely relations. What distinguishes science from ordinary knowledge is merely its form, the systematic, the facilitating of knowledge by summarizing everything particular in the universe by means of the subordination of concepts, and the completeness of knowledge thus attained. All relation has itself only a relative existence, for example, all being in time is also a non-being, for time is just that by which opposite determinations can belong to the same thing.” W.W.R. I, 177, §33
2.3 “… To this, then, false fundamental views lead. Far from bearing the character of a gift, human existence has entirely the character of a contracted debt. The calling in of this debt appears in the shape of the urgent heeds, tormenting desires, and endless misery brought about through that existence. As a rule, the whole lifetime is used for paying off this debt, yet in this way only the interest is cleared off. Repayment of the capital takes place through death. And when was this debt contracted? At the time of begetting.” W.W.R. II, 580, Ch. XLVI
2.4 “We cannot possibly assume that such differences, which transform the man’s whole being, which are not to be abolished by anything, and which further determine his course of life in conflict with the circumstances, could exist without guilt or merit on the part of those affected by them, and that they were the mere work of chance. It is at once evident from this that man must be in a certain sense his own work.” W.W.R. II, 599, Ch. XLVII
2.5 “To have always in hand a sure compass for guiding us in life and enabling us always to view this in the right light without ever going astray, nothing is more suitable than to accustom ourselves to regard this world as a place of penance and hence a penal colony, so to speak, an Ergasterion, as it was called by the oldest philosophers (according to Clement of Alexandria). Among the Christian Fathers Origen expressed it thus with commendable boldness “… This view of the world also finds its theoretical and objective justification not merely in my philosophy, but in the wisdom of all ages, thus in Brahmanism and Buddhism, Empedocles and Pythagoras, and also Cicero mentions … that it was taught by ancient sages and at the initiation into the Mysteries … For one of the evils of a penitentiary is also the society we meet there. What this is like will be known by anyone who is worthy of a better society without my telling him. A fine nature, as well as a genius, may sometimes feel in this world like a noble state-prisoner in the galleys among common criminals; and they, like him, will therefore attempt to isolate themselves. However strange this may sound, it accords with the facts, puts the other man in the most correct light, and reminds us of that most necessary thing: tolerance, patience, forbearance and love of one’s neighbour, which everyone needs and each of us therefore owes to another.”P.P. II, (255– 256) 327–328, §156
(c) Will-to-live (taṇhā)
2.6 “This great intensity of willing is in and by itself and directly a constant source of suffering, firstly because all willing as such springs from want, and hence from suffering … Secondly, because, through the causal connexion of things, most desires must remain unfulfilled; and the will is much more often crossed than satisfied. Consequently, much intense willing always entails much intense suffering. For all suffering is simply nothing but unfulfilled and thwarted willing … Now a person filled with an extremely intense pressure of will wants with burning eagerness to accumulate everything, in order to slake the thirst of egoism.” W.W.R. I, 363–364, §65
2.7 “The world is only the mirror of this willing; and all finiteness, all suffering, all the miseries that it contains, belong to the expression of what the will wills, are as they are because the will so wills. Accordingly, with the strictest right, every being supports existence in general, and the existence of its species and of its characteristic individuality, entirely as it is and in surroundings as they are, in a world such as it is, swayed by chance and error, fleeting, always suffering; and in all that happens or indeed can happen to the individual, justice is always done to it. For the will belongs to it; and as the will is, so is the world. Only this world itself—no other—can bear the responsibility for its existence and its nature; for how could anyone else have assumed this responsibility?” W.W.R. I, 351; §63
2.8 “Therefore what is always to be found in every animal consciousness, even the most imperfect and feeblest, in fact what is always its foundation is the immediate awareness of a Longing, and of its alternate satisfaction and non-satisfaction in very different degrees. To a certain extent we know this a priori. For amazingly varied as the innumerable species of animals may be, and strange as some new form of them, never previously seen, may appear to us, we nevertheless assume beforehand with certainty its innermost nature as something well known, and indeed wholly familiar to us. Thus we know that the animal Wills, indeed even What it wills, namely existence, well-being, life, and propagation. Since we here presuppose with perfect certainty an identity with ourselves, we have no hesitation in attributing to it unchanged all the affections of will known to us in ourselves; and we speak positively and plainly of its desire, aversion, fear, anger, hatred, love, joy, sorrow, longing, and so on … Longing, craving, willing, or aversion, shunning, and not-willing, are peculiar to every consciousness; man has them in common with the polyp.” W.W.R. II, 204, Ch. XIX
2.9 “All willing springs from lack, from deficiency, and thus from suffering. Fulfilment brings this to an end; yet, for one wish that is fulfilled there remain at least ten that are denied. Further, desiring lasts a long time, demands and requests go on to infinity; fulfilment is short and meted out sparingly. But even the final satisfaction itself is only apparent; the wish fulfilled at once makes way for a new one; the former is a known delusion, the latter a delusion not yet known. No attained object of willing can give a satisfaction that lasts and no longer declines; but it is always like the alms thrown to a beggar, which reprieves him today so that his misery can be prolonged till tomorrow. Therefore, so long as our consciousness is filled by our will, so long as we are given up to the throng of desires with its constant hopes and fears, so long as we are the subject of willing, we never obtain lasting happiness or peace. Essentially it is all the same whether we pursue or flee, fear, harm or aspire to enjoyment; care for the constantly demanding will, no matter in what form, continually fills and moves consciousness; but without peace and calm, true well-being is absolutely impossible.
When, however, an external cause or inward disposition suddenly raises us out of the endless stream of willing, and snatches knowledge from the thraldom of the will, the attention is now no longer directed to the motives of willing, but comprehends things free from their relation to the will. Thus it considers things without interest, without subjectivity, purely objectively; it is entirely given up to them in so far as they are merely representations, and not motives. Then all at once the peace, always sought but always escaping us on that first path of willing, comes to us of its own accord, and all is well with us. It is the painless state, prized by Epicurus as the highest good and as the state of the gods; for that moment we are delivered from the miserable pressure of the will.” W.W.R. I, 196, §38
2.10 “In such a world where there is no stability of any kind, no lasting state is possible but everything is involved in restless rotation and change, where everyone hurries along and keeps erect on a tight rope by always advancing and moving, happiness is not even conceivable.” P.P. II, (242) 309. §144
2.11 “In fact, absence of all aim, of all limits, belongs to the essential nature of the will in itself, which is an endless striving … It also reveals itself in the simplest form of the lowest grade of the will’s objectivity, namely gravitation, the constant striving of which we see, although a final goal for it is obviously impossible. For it, according to its will, all existing matter were united into a lump, then within this lump gravity, ever striving towards the centre, would still always struggle with impenetrability as rigidity or elasticity. Therefore the striving of matter can always be impeded only, never fulfilled or satisfied. But this is precisely the case with the striving of all the will’s phenomena. Every attained end is at the same time the beginning of a new course, and so on Ad Infinitum. The plant raises its phenomenon from the seed through stem and leaf to blossom and fruit, which is in turn only the beginning of a new seed, of a new individual, which once more runs through the old course, and so through endless time. Such also is the life course of the animal; procreation is its highest point, and after this has been attained, the first individual quickly or slowly fades, while a new life guarantees to nature the maintenance of the species, and repeats the same phenomenon … Eternal becoming, endless flux, belong to the revelation of the essential nature of the will. Finally, the same thing is also seen in human endeavours and desires that buoy us up with the vain hope that their fulfilment is always the final goal of willing. But as soon as they are attained, they no longer look the same, and so are soon forgotten, become antiquated and are really, although not admittedly, always laid aside as vanished illusions. It is fortunate enough when something to desire and to strive for still remains, so that the game may be kept up of the constant transition from desire to satisfaction, and from that to a fresh desire, the rapid course of which is called happiness, the slow course sorrow, and so that this game may not come to a standstill, showing itself as a fearful, life-destroying boredom, a lifeless longing without a definite object, a deadening languor.” W.W.R. I, 164, §29
(e) Principium individuationis (anattā)
2.12 “Just as the boatman sits in his small boat, trusting his frail craft in a stormy sea that is boundless in every direction, rising and falling with the howling mountainous waves, so in the midst of a world full of suffering and misery the individual man calmly sits, supported by and trusting the principium individuationis, or the way in which the individual knows things as phenomena. The boundless world, everywhere full of suffering in the infinite past, in the infinite future, is strange to him, is indeed a fiction. His vanishing person, his extensionless present, his momentary gratification, these alone have reality for him; and he does everything to maintain them, so long as his eyes are not opened by a better knowledge. Till then, there lives only in the innermost depths of his consciousness the wholly obscure presentiment that all this is indeed not really so strange to him, but has a connexion with him from which the principium individuationis cannot protect him. From this presentiment arises that ineradicable dread, common to all human beings (and possibly even to the more intelligent animals) …” W.W.R. I, 352–3, §63
2.13 “Now the Suffering Of Wrong appears as an event in external experience, and, as we have said, there is manifested in it more distinctly than anywhere else the phenomenon of the conflict of the will-to-live with itself, arising from egoism, both of which are conditioned by the principium individuationis which is the form of the world as representation for the knowledge of the individual. We also saw above that a very great part of the suffering essential to human life has its constantly flowing source in the conflict of individuals. The faculty of reason that is common to all those individuals, and enables them to know not merely the particular case, as the animals do, but also the whole abstractly in its connection, has taught them to discern the source of that suffering. It has made them mindful of the means of diminishing, or if possible suppressing, this suffering by a common sacrifice which is, however, outweighed by the common advantage resulting therefrom … This means is the State Contract or the Law. It is readily devised and gradually perfected by egoism which, by using the “faculty of reason, proceeds methodically, and forsakes its onesided point of view.” W.W.R, I, 342–3, §62
2.14 “The philosophical wonder is conditioned in the individual by higher development of intelligence, though generally not by this alone; but undoubtedly it is the knowledge of death, and therewith the consideration of the suffering and misery of life, that gives the strongest impulse to philosophical reflection and metaphysical explanations of the world. If our life were without end and free from pain, it would possibly not occur to anyone to ask why the world exists, and why it does so in precisely this way, but everything would be taken purely as a matter of course. In keeping with this, we find that the interest inspired by philosophical and also religious systems has its strongest and essential point absolutely in the dogma of some future existence after death. Although the latter systems seem to make the existence of their gods the main point, and to defend this most strenuously, at bottom this is only because they have tied up their teaching on immortality therewith, and regard the one as inseparable from the other; this alone is really of importance to them. For if we could guarantee their dogma of immortality to them in some other way, their lively ardour for their gods would at once cool; and it would make way for almost complete indifference if, conversely, the absolute impossibility of any immortality were demonstrated to them. For interest in the existence of the gods would vanish with the hope of a closer acquaintance with them, down to what residue might be bound up with their possible influence on the events of the present life. But if continued existence after death could also be proved to be incompatible with the existence of gods, because, let us say, it presupposed originality of mode of existence, they would soon sacrifice these gods to their own immortality, and be eager for atheism. The fact that the really materialistic as well as the absolutely sceptical systems have never been able to obtain a general or lasting influence is attributable to the same reason. Temples and churches, pagodas and mosques, in all countries and ages, in their splendour and spaciousness, testify to man’s need for metaphysics, a need strong and ineradicable, which follows close on the physical.” W.W.R. II, 161–2, Ch. XVII
(a): The dilemma
3.1 “He knows the whole, comprehends its inner nature, and finds it involved in a constant passing away, a vain striving, an inward conflict, and a continual suffering … Thus, whoever is still involved in the principium individuationis, in egoism, knows only particular things and their relation to his own person, and these then become ever renewed motives of his willing. On the other hand, that knowledge of the whole, of the inner nature of the thing-in-itself, which has been described, becomes a quieter of all and every willing. The will now turns away from life; it shudders at the pleasures in which it recognizes the affirmation of life. Man attains to the state of voluntary renunciation, resignation, true composure; and complete will-lessness.” W.W.R. I, 379, §68
“Bhikkhus, I will teach you The All. Listen to it. And what, bhikkhus, is the all? It is eye and object, ear and sound, nose and scent, tongue and savour, body and tangible things, mind and mind-states. That is called the all …
Whoever, bhikkhus, should say: ‘Reject this all, I will proclaim another all, it would be mere talk on his part, and when questioned he could not make good his boast, and further would come to an ill pass. Why so? Because it would be beyond his scope to do so; I will show you a teaching, bhikkhus, for abandoning the all. Listen to it … The eye must be abandoned, objects must be abandoned, eye-consciousness must be abandoned, eyecontact must be abandoned. That enjoyment or suffering or neutral state experienced which arises owing to eye-contact, that also must be abandoned … Mind must be abandoned, mind-states, mind-consciousness, mind-contact must be abandoned …
This, bhikkhus, is the teaching for the abandonment of the all, by fully knowing, by comprehending it … Without fully knowing, without comprehending, without detaching oneself therefrom, without abandoning the all, one is incapable of extinguishing suffering.” SN 35:23–26
Note to 3.1
The stress laid on the meaning of the all, or “the whole,” in the two texts compared above, marks with equal clearness the basic difference of both the Buddhist and Schopenhauer’s approach to the problem of the ultimate “kernel” of the world “in-itself” from the Opposite approaches by the advaita-vedanta (in the Upanishads and their later interpretation by Sankara) and by Kant’s theory of the “thing-in-itself” as a “back-stage” structure of the world.
For the Buddha there is no fixed and permanent cause of being beyond the things as they appear to us, or as phenomena, which, according to the interpretation of this Greek word in contemporary philosophy (Heidegger, Sartre), means just the immediate appearance of things “in themselves and by themselves.” They are only “aggregates” (khandha) In simultaneous “momentary” (khaṇika) appearance in their interdependent arising (paþiccasamuppāda). There is no “external cause” to the process of saṃsāra, which in Schopenhauer’s words, is a mere existentia fluxa, existing through a continuous change, comparable to a stream of water.” (P.P. II, (246) 315, §147).
In the same sense Schopenhauer often speaks of the “chain of causes and effects”, the knowledge whereof “really knows nothing more about objects than their relations …” (cf. W.W.R. I, pp. 177, 198). Our existence has no foundation to support it except the everfleeting and vanishing present; and so constant motion is essentially its form, without any possibility of that rest for which we are always longing” (P.P. II, (242) 309, §144).
In his Criticism Of The Kantian Philosophy (Appendix to W.W.R. I) Schopenhauer rejects Kant’s theory of the “thing-in-itself” as being based on a logically incorrect interpretation of the law of causality, in the meaning specified above, and turns Kant’s position as follows: We can arrive at the being-in-itself on the entirely different path I have followed, by means of the addition of a self-consciousness, which proclaims the will as the in-itself of our own phenomenon …” (W.W.R. I, 436). By this reversal, however, the “thing-in-itself” loses all attributes of its “transcendent” and “absolute” nature. Instead of being sat-cit-ānanda (“being-consciousness-bliss”) of Sankara, it becomes the principle of all ill and suffering which therefore should be repudiated and abandoned “all”-together.
The will as the “thing-in-itself,” “the inner being of the world and kernel of all phenomena” (W.W.R. II, 294), is nothing more than “a blind will-to-live” (id., p. 579), “groundless” due to its blindness; a principle of metaphysical ignorance (avijjā ), and thus reduced from a positive principle of transcendent being to a negative principle of merely transcendental (this word means: limited by the structure of the “mind-element”) knowledge, whose last biological root is traced as far back in our animal nature as the sexual instinct (cf. 5.13).—Far from being the ultimate reason of “freedom” or of sat-cit-ānanda, one might claim for it only an apparent and contradictory freedom to self-abolition of the will as principium individuationis (Buddhist anattā): “An actual appearance of the real freedom of the will as thing-in-itself then becomes possible, by which the phenomenon comes into a certain contradiction with itself, as is expressed by the word self-renunciation, in fact the in-itself of its real nature ultimately abolishes itself. This is the sole and immediate manifestation proper to the will in itself …” (W.W.R. I, 301).
3.2 “There is only one inborn error, and that is the notion that we exist in order to be happy. It is inborn in us, because it coincides with our existence itself, and our whole being is only its paraphrase, indeed our body is its monogram. We are nothing more than the willto- live, and the successive satisfaction of all our willing is what we think of through the concept of happiness. So long as we persist in this inborn error, and indeed even become confirmed in it through optimistic dogmas, the world seems to us full of contradictions. For at every step, in great things and in small, we are bound to experience that the world and life are certainly not arranged for the purpose of continuing a happy existence. Now, while the thoughtless person feels himself vexed and annoyed hereby merely in real life, in the case of the person who thinks, there is added to the pain in reality the theoretical perplexity as to why a world and a life that exist so that he may be happy in them, answer their purpose so badly … In addition to this, every day of our life up to now has taught us that, even when joy and pleasure are attained, they are in themselves deceptive, do not perform what they promise, do not satisfy the heart, and finally that their possession is at least embittered by the vexation and unpleasantnesses that accompany or spring from them. Pains and sorrows, on the other hand, prove very real and often exceed all expectation. Thus everything in life is certainly calculated to bring us back from that original error, and to convince us that the purpose of our existence is not to be happy. Indeed, if life is considered more closely and impartially, it presents itself rather as specially intended to show us that we are not to feel happy in it, since by its whole nature it bears the character of something for which we have lost the taste, which must disgust us, and from which we have to come back, as from an error, so that our heart may be cured of the passion for enjoying and indeed for living, and may be turned away from the world. In this sense, it would accordingly be more correct to put the purpose of life in our woe than in our welfare … Now whoever has returned by one path or the other from that error … will soon see everything in a different light, and will find that the world is in harmony with his insight, though not with his wishes. Misfortunes of every sort and size will no longer surprise him, although they cause him pain; for he has seen that pain and trouble are the very things that work towards the true end of life, namely the turning away of the will from it. In all that may happen, this will in fact give him a wonderful coolness and composure, similar to that with which a patient undergoing a long and painful cure bears the pain of it as a sign of its efficacy. Suffering expresses itself clearly enough to the whole of human existence as its true destiny. Life is deeply stooped in suffering, and cannot escape from it; our entrance into it takes place amid tears, at bottom its course is always tragic, and its end is even more so. In this there is an unmistakable touch of deliberation … In fact, suffering is the process of purification by which alone man is in most cases sanctified, in other words, led back from the path of error of the will-to-live … The completed course of life, on which the dying person looks back, has an effect on the whole will that objectifies itself in this perishing individuality, and such an effect is analogous to that exercised by a motive on man’s conduct. The completed course gives his conduct a new direction that is accordingly the moral and essential result of the life … Because this retrospect, like the distant foreknowledge of death, is conditioned by the faculty of reason, and is possible in man alone, not in the animal, and therefore he alone drains the cup of death, humanity is the only stage at which the will can deny itself, and completely turn away from life. To the will that does not deny itself, every birth imparts a new and different intellect; until it has recognized the true nature of life, and in consequence, no longer wills it.” W.W.R. II, 634–7, Ch. XLIX
3.3 “In the hour of death, the decision is made whether man falls back into the womb of nature, or else no longer belongs to her, but: we lack image, concept, and word for this opposite, just because all these are taken from the objectification of the will, and therefore belong to that objectification; consequently, they cannot in any way express its absolute opposite; accordingly this remains for us a mere negation. However, the death of the individual is in each case the unwearingly repeated question of nature to the will-to-live: ‘Have you had enough? Do you wish to escape from me?’” W.W.R. II, 609, Ch. XLVIII
(b) The Awakening
3.4 “What is called the awakening of genius, the hour of inspiration, the moment of rapture or exaltation, is nothing but the intellect’s becoming free, when, relieved for a while from its service under the will, it does not sink into inactivity or apathy, but is active for a short time, entirely alone and of its own accord. The intellect is then of the greatest purity, and becomes the clear mirror of the world … Because all suffering proceeds from willing, while knowing on the other hand is in and by itself painless and serene, this gives to their lofty brows and to their clear, perceptive glance, which are not subject to the service of the will and its needs, the appearance of the great, as it were supernatural, unearthly serenity …” W.W.R. II, 380, Ch. XXXI
3.6 “… we freely acknowledge that what remains after the complete abolition of the will is, for all who are still full of the will, assuredly nothing. But also conversely, to those in whom the will has turned and denied itself, this very real world of ours with all its suns and galaxies, is nothing.
(c) “The separation of knowing from willing”
3.7 “The comprehension of the world now demands more and more attention, and ultimately to such an extent that at times its relation to the will must be momentarily lost sight of so that it may occur the more purely and correctly. This quite definitely appears first in the case of man; only with him does a pure separation of knowing from willing occur.” W.W.R. II, 279, Ch. XXII
3.8 “It follows from all that has been said, that the denial of the will-to-live, which is the same as what is called complete resignation or holiness, always proceeds from that quieter of the will; and this is the knowledge of its inner conflict and its essential vanity, expressing themselves in the suffering of all that lives.” W.W.R. I, 397, §68
3.9 “As long as no denial of that will has taken place, that-of-us which is left over by death is the seed and kernel of quite another existence, in which a new individual finds himself again so fresh and original, that he broods over himself in astonishment.” W.W.R. II, 50I, Ch. XLI
4.1 “And we know that these moments, when, delivered from the fierce pressure of the will, we emerge, as it were, from the heavy atmosphere of the earth, are the most blissful that we experience. From this we can infer how blessed must be the life of a man whose will is silenced not for a few moments, as in the enjoyment of the beautiful, but for ever, indeed completely extinguished, except for the last glimmering spark that maintains the body and is extinguished with it. Such a man who, after many bitter struggles with his own nature has at last completely conquered, is then left only as pure knowing being, as the unlimitedmirror of the world. Nothing can distress or alarm him any more; nothing can any longer move him; for he has cut all the thousand threads of willing which hold us bound to the world, and whichas craving, fear, envy, and anger drag us here and there in constant pain. He now looks back calmly and with a smile an the phantasmagoria of this world which was once able to move and to agonize even his mind, but now stands before him as indifferently as chess-men at the end of a game …” W.W.R. I, 390, §68
4.2 “The world can appear in its true colour and form, in its complete and correct significance, only when the intellect, freed from willing, moves freely over objects, and yet is energetically active without being spurred on by the will. This is certainly contrary to the nature and destiny of the intellect; thus it is to a certain extent unnatural, and for this reason exceedingly rare. But it is precisely in this that the true nature of Genius lies; and in this alone does that stage occur in a high degree and for some time, whereas in the rest it appears only approximately and exceptionally.
‘What is all this?’ or ‘How is it really constituted?’ If the first question attains to great distinctness and is continuously present, it will make the philosopher, and in just the same way the other question will make the artist or the poet.” W.W.R. II.1, 181–2, Ch. XXXI
4.3 “We therefore find in the lives of saintly persons that peace and bliss we have described, only as the blossom resulting from the constant overcoming of the will; and we see the constant struggle with the will-to-live as the soil from which it shoots up; for on earth no one can have lasting peace … Therefore we see also those who have once attained to the denial of the will, strive with all their might to keep to this path by self-imposed renunciation of every kind, by a penitent and hard life …
Now, if we see this practised by persons who have already attained to denial of the will, in order that they may keep to it, then suffering in general, as it is inflicted by faith, is also a ’second way’ of attaining to that denial. Indeed, we may assume that most men can reach it only in this way, and that it is the suffering personally felt, not the suffering merely known, which most frequently produces complete resignation, often only at the approach of death. For only in the case of a few is mere knowledge sufficient to bring about the denial of the will, the knowledge namely that sees through the principium individuationis first producing perfect goodness of disposition and universal love of mankind, and finally enabling them to recognize as their own all the suffering of the world…
Therefore in most cases the will must be broken by the greatest personal suffering before its self-denial appears. We then see the man suddenly retire into himself, after he is brought to the verge of despair through all the stages of increasing affliction with the most violent resistance. We see him know himself and the world, change his whole nature, rise above himself and above all suffering, as if purified and sanctified by it, in inviolable peace, bliss, and sublimity, willingly renounce everything he formerly desired with the greatest vehemence, and gladly welcome death. It is the gleam of silver that suddenly appears from the purifying flame of suffering, the gleam of the denial of the will-to-live, of salvation. Occasionally we see even those who were very wicked purified to this degree by the deepest grief and sorrow; they have become different, and are completely converted. Therefore, their previous misdeeds no longer trouble their conscience, yet they gladly pay for such misdeeds with death, and willingly see the end of the phenomenon of that will that is now foreign to and abhorred by them.” W.W.R. I, 39I-3, §68
4.4 “Now if we consider the will-to-live as a whole and objectively, we have to think of it, according to what has been said, as involved in a delusion. To return from this, and hence to deny its whole present endeavour, is what religions describe as self-denial or selfrenunciation, … for the real self is the will-to-live. The moral virtues, hence justice and philanthropy spring from the fact that the will-to-live, seeing through the principium individuationis, recognizes itself again in all its phenomena; accordingly they are primarily a sign, a symptom, that the appearing will is no longer firmly held in that delusion, but that disillusionment already occurs. Thus it might be said figuratively that the will already flaps its wings, in order to fly away from it. Conversely, injustice, wickedness, cruelty are signs of the opposite, that is, of deep entanglement in that delusion. But in the second place, these moral virtues are a means of advancing self-renunciation, and accordingly of denying the will-to-live.” W.W.R. II, 606, Ch. XLVIII
“It is in respect only of such trifling things, of matters of little value, of mere morality, that a worldly man, when praising the Tathāgata (Buddha), would speak. And what are such trifling minor details of mere morality that he would praise? Putting away the killing of living beings, the samana Gotama holds aloof from the destruction of life, ... from taking what is not given, … from unchastity, … from lying words, … from wrong means of livelihood.- But there are other things, profound, difficult to realise, hard to understand, tranquilising, not to be grasped by mere logic, subtle, comprehensible only to the wise …” D1.
The way of art, essential also to philosophy, was considered by Schopenhauer as the contemplative way of the genius. On the other hand, the way of asceticism is peculiar to the equally exceptional character of the saint. The third possibility, to be dealt with in the present section, could be considered as a “middle way.” The Greek word eudaemonology, chosen to characterise it, denotes the classical ideal, which in the later period of Greek and Roman philosophy came to be ever more identified with the popular idea of the philosophical attitude peculiar to “Stoic Sages.” This identification remained in popular use until modern times. Schopenhauer was the most vehement critic of the scientific trend in modern philosophy in so far as it was understood to neglect the primary task of interpreting all the problems of the world with reference to, and for the sake of the human condition in it, problems that arise from the moral commitment of our existence in the world. In other words, his criticism was a protest against the danger of dehumanized philosophy. In this he was a significant forerunner of the philosophy of existence which prevailed in Europe in the middle of the 20th century …
However, Schopenhauer often returned no less critically, from various approaches, to the “Stoical” attitude in its all-too narrow meaning within the limits of the ideal of a “happy life” or eudeamonia. He considered Stoicism historically as a rather decadent derivation from the more rigorous teaching of the Cynics. In order to exclude the danger of a shallow and, above all, hypocritical, understanding of a “middle way” in general, it was of critical and vital importance to him clearly to restrict, in each case, the limits of reasonable moral application of the criterion of a “middle way,” the more so, as the idea of the “middle way” is usually in its very origin very original, predetermined by specific historical circumstances. In the case of Buddhism such circumstances appear very clearly delimited in the first discourse of the Buddha, the Dhammacakkappavattana-sutta. In the classical philosophy of Europe the most misused formulation of the principle of a “middle way” was that in Aristotle’s Ethics:
4.5 “Aristotle’s principle of taking the middle course in all things is ill-suited to the moral principle for which he gave it; but it might easily be the best general rule of prudence and wisdom, the best guidance for a happy life. For everything in life is so hazardous and, precarious: on all sides there are so many hardships, inconveniences, burdens, sufferings and dangers, that we have a safe and happy voyage only by steering between the rocks. Usually the fear of a misfortune already known to us drives us to the opposite affliction; for example, the painful nature of loneliness drives us into society, indeed the first being the best; the troubles and difficulties of society drive us into solitude; we allow a forbidding demeanour to alternate with rash and indiscrete confidence and familiarity, and so on.” F.M. (1814) p. 81–82 §132
4.6 “One cannot serve two masters; and so it must be either one’s reason or holy scripture. ‘Juste Milieu,’ (the happy-mean), means falling between two stools. Either believe or philosophize! Whatever is chosen must be entirely accepted. ’To believe’ up to a certain point and no farther, and likewise ’to philosophize’ up to a certain point and no farther, these are half-measures that constitute ‘the fundamental characteristic of rationalism.’” P.P. II, (324) 424, §181
In his main work (W.W.R. I) Schopenhauer is particularly strict in criticizing all forms of eudaemonism in its primary meaning of a pleasure-seeking attitude, or a yielding to the thirst for life. The influence of the Christian ideal of asceticism was at that time obviously predominant. It was only in a later period (especially, it seems, in the middle period of his life), in Parerga and Paralipomena, that he found a more favourable approach, to the entire problem. At the end of the first volume of P.P. he dedicated a section of 200 pages to its reexamination. It seems that at that time, his attention was again drawn to this aspect of the ancient East-Mediterranean (Hellenistic) philosophy in connection with a deeper progress in his studies of Indian sources and particularly with a progress from the earlier Vedic, or Brahamanical trend, as he calls it, towards Buddhism.
The pedagogical interest, if not predominant, undoubtedly became in this context the most characteristic motive of Schopenhauer’s inquiry into the problem of eudaemonology and of his “hypothesis” on the possibility of striking a balance between “the measure of our pain and our well-being.” It would be an exaggeration to call this part of Schopenhauer’s philosophy his “optimism,” or even to consider it as inconsistent in any respect. But it certainly contains a few characteristic pointers to the limits of his “pessimism.” Essentially, such reasonable limits were always and everywhere clearly indicated by him as pertaining to the highest aim and point of orientation of his entire philosophical undertaking, viz. the elucidation of the idea of liberation, or even of “salvation,” from the “thirst” by which all “will-to-live” is “fatally” (or karmically) enslaved.
4.7 “Here I take the idea of wisdom of life … in the sense of the art of getting through life as pleasantly and successfully as possible, the instructions to which might also be called eudaemonology …” P.P. II, (229) 347
4.8 “I regard as the first rule of all wisdom of life a sentence incidentally expressed by Aristotle …: ‘The prudent man aims at painlessness not pleasure.’ The truth of this rests on the fact that the nature of all pleasure and happiness is negative, whereas that of pain is positive … However, I will here illustrate it by another fact that can be daily observed. If our whole body is healthy and sound except for some sore or painful spot, we are no longer conscious of the health of the whole, but our attention is constantly directed to the pain of the injured spot, and all the comfort and enjoyment of life vanish. In the same way, when all our affairs turn out in the way we want them to go with the exception of one that runs counter to our intentions, this one affair constantly recurs even when it is of little importance. We often think about it and pay little attention to all the other more important things that are turning out in accordance with our wishes. Now in both cases, what is injuriously affected is the will, in the one case as it objectifies itself in the organism, in the other, as it is objectified in man’s efforts and aspirations. In both we see that the satisfaction of the will operates always only negatively and therefore is not directly felt at all; but at most we become conscious of it when we reflect on the matter. On the other hand, what checks and obstructs the will is something positive which therefore makes its presence known. Every pleasure consists merely in the removal of this hindrance, in our liberation therefrom, and is in consequence of short duration.
… Accordingly, whoever wants to assess the result of his life in terms of eudaemonology, should draw up the account to show not the pleasures he has enjoyed, but the evils he has escaped. Indeed, eudamonology must begin by informing us that its very name is an euphemism and that, when we say ‘to live happily,’ we are to understand by this merely ‘to live less unhappily,’ and hence to live a tolerable life. It is quite certain that life is not really given to us to be enjoyed, but to be overcome, to be got over.” P.P. I, (386–387) 447–449; I
4.9 “Therefore at the age of adolescence we are often dissatisfied with our position and environment, whatever they may be, because we attribute to them what belongs to the emptiness and wretchedness of human life everywhere, with which we are now making our first acquaintance, after expecting something quite different. Much would have been gained if through timely advice and instruction young men could have had eradicated from their minds the erroneous notion that the world has a great deal to offer them.” P.P. I, (451) 530; Ch. VI
4.10 “A quiet and cheerful temperament, resulting from perfect health and a prosperous economy, an understanding that is clear, lively, penetrating, and sees things correctly, a moderate and gentle will and hence a good conscience—these are advantages that no rank or wealth can make good or replace. For what a man is by himself, what accompanies him into solitude, and what no one can give him or take away from him, is obviously more essential to him than everything he possesses, or even what he may be in the eyes of others.” P.P. I, (303) 353, Ch. I
4.11 “When we look at something we do not possess, the thought readily occurs: ‘Ah, if that were mine,’ and we are made sensible of our privation. Instead of this, we should say more often: ‘Ah, if that were not mine.’ I mean that we should endeavour sometimes to regard what we possess as it would appear to us after we had lost it. Indeed, we should do this with everything, whatever it may be; property, health, friends, those we love, wife, children, horse and dog. For in most cases, the loss of things first tells us of their value.” P.P. I, (414–415), 482
4.12 “In so far as the feeling of honour rests on this peculiar characteristic (praise), it may have salutary effects on the good conduct of many as a substitute for their morality; but on the man’s own Happiness and above all on the peace of mind and independence essential thereto, its effect is more disturbing and detrimental than beneficial. Therefore, from our point of view, it is advisable to set limits to this characteristic and to moderate as much as possible, through careful consideration and correct assessment of the value of good things, that great susceptibility to the opinions of other people, not only where it is flattered, but also where it is injured, for both hang by the same thread. Otherwise, we remain the slaves of what other people appear to think … Accordingly, a correct comparison of the value of what we are In And By Ourselves with what we are in the eyes of others will greatly contribute to our happiness … In their brilliance, their pomp and splendour, their show and magnificence of every kind, the highest in the land can say: ‘Our happiness lies entirely outside ourselves; its place is in the heads of others.”’ P.P. I, (335–6) 390–1; Ch. IV
4.14 “And so again in a different sense loneliness is not natural to man, in so far as he did not find himself alone when he came into the world, but had parents, brothers and sisters, and was therefore in a community. Accordingly, love of solitude cannot exist as an original tendency, but arises only in consequence of experience and reflection; and this will occur to the extent that our own mental powers are developed, but at the same time with an increase in our age …” P.P. I, (405) 470; 9
4.15 “Thus from all this it follows that love of solitude does not appear directly and as an original impulse, but develops indirectly, preferably in nobler minds, and only gradually. This development is not achieved without our overcoming the natural social urge …” P.P. 1, (407) 473; 9
4.16 “Even if he should have gone too far in avoiding them (the evils of life) and have unnecessarily sacrificed pleasures, nothing has really been lost; for all pleasures are illusory, and to grieve about having missed them would be frivolous and even ridiculous. The failure to recognize this truth, a failure encouraged by optimism, is the source of much unhappiness. It seems as if an evil spirit with visions of desires always enticed us away from the painless state, from the greatest genuine happiness. The careless and thoughtless youth imagines that the world exists in order to be enjoyed; that it is the abode of a positive happiness; and that men miss this because they are not clever enough to take possession of it. He is strengthened in this view by novels and poems and also by the hypocrisy which the world always and everywhere practises for the sake of appearance … This hunt for game that does not exist at all leads, as a rule, to very real and positive unhappiness, which appears as pain, suffering, sickness, loss, care, poverty, disgrace, and a thousand other miseries. The undeceiving comes too late. On the other hand, if, by following the rule we are here considering, the plan of life is directed to the avoidance of suffering and hence to keeping clear of want, illness and every kind of distress, the aim is a real one. Something may then be achieved which will be the greater, the less the plan is disturbed by striving after the chimera of positive happiness.” P.P. I (389.) 450; I
4.17 “Moreover, where looking for pleasure, happiness and joy, we often find instead instruction, insight and knowledge, a lasting and real benefit in place of one that is fleeting and illusory.” P.P. I (393) 456; 3
4.18 “We are accustomed to call youth the happy time of life and old age the unhappy. This would be true if the passions made us happy. Youth is torn and distracted by them and they afford little pleasure and much pain. Cool old age is left in peace by them and at once assumes a contemplative air; for knowledge becomes free and gains the upper hand. Now since this in itself is painless, we are happier, the more conscious we are that it predominates in our nature … The curious thing, however, is that only towards the end of our life do we really recognize and understand even ourselves, our real aim and objects, especially in our relations to the world and to others.” P.P. I, (461) 543; 542
4.19 “But possibly to no form of knowledge is experience so indispensable as to a correct appreciation of the instability and fluctuations of things … The prudent man is he who is not deceived by the apparent stability of things and in addition sees in advance the direction that the change will first take … On the other hand, men as a rule regard as permanent the state of things for the time being or the direction of their course. This is because they see the effects, but do not understand the causes; yet it is these that bear the seed of future changes …” P.P. I, (442–3) 519–20; 49
4.20 “On the other hand, everyone has certain innate concrete principles that are in his very blood and marrow, since they are the result of all his thinking, feeling and willing. Usually he does not know them in the abstract, but only when he looks back on his life does he become aware that he has always observed them and has been drawn by them as by an invisible thread. According as they are, so will they lead him to his good or adverse fortune.” P.P. I, (442) 519; 48
4.21 “Man’s character is empirical. Only through experience do we come to know it, not merely in others but also in ourselves. Hence we are often disillusioned alike with regard to ourselves and to others, when we discover that we do not possess this or that quality, for example, justice, unselfishness, courage, in the degree we fondly assumed … Only a precise knowledge of a man’s own empirical character gives him what is called an acquired character. It is possessed by the man who has an exact knowledge, of his own qualities, both good and bad, and thus knows for certain what he may and may not count on and expect from himself.“Grundprobleme der Ethik, (48–50) 518–523
5.1 “Our own consciousness … alone is and remains that which is immediate; everything else, be it what it may, is first mediated and conditioned by consciousness, and therefore dependent on it.” W.W.R. II, 4
5.2 “As the will … the essence of the world, but life, the visible world, the phenomenon is only the mirror of the will, this world will accompany the will as inseparably as a body is accompanied by its shadow; and if will exists, then life, the world, will exist.” W.W.R. I, 275; §54
5.3 “However, we continue our life with great interest and much solicitude as long as possible, just as we blow out a soap bubble as long and as large as possible, although with the perfect certainty that it will burst.” W.W.R. I, 311; §57
5.4 “For the work of māyā is stated to be precisely this visible world in which we are, a magic effect called into being, an unstable and inconstant illusion without substance, comparable to the optical illusion and the dream, a veil enveloping human consciousness, a something of which it is equally false and equally true to say that it is and that it is not.” W.W.R. I, 419
“How is the solitary life perfected in detail? It is when that which is past is put away; when that which is future is given up, and when, with regard to present states that we have got, will and passion have been thoroughly mastered. It is thus that the solitary life is perfected in detail.” SN 21:10
Not so, your reverence.
Not so, your reverence:
Not so, your reverence.
Not so, your reverence. MN 14
5.5 “The present is the only real form of the phenomenon of the will. Therefore no endless past or future in which he will not exist can frighten him, for he regards these as an empty mirage and the web of māyā.” W.W.R. I, 234 §54
5.6 “No man has lived in the past, and none will ever live in the future, the present alone is the form of all life, but it is also life’s sure possession which can never be torn from it. The present always exists together with its content; both stand firm without wavering, like the rainbow over the waterfall. For life is sure and certain to the will, and the present is sure and certain to life…’’ W.W.R. I, 278, §54
5.7 “The will-to-live manifests itself in an endless present, because this is the form: of the Species which therefore does not grow old, but remains always young … Let us now picture to ourselves that alternation of birth and death in infinitely rapid vibrations, and we have before us the persistent and enduring objectification of the will … Standing firm like a rainbow on the waterfall. This is temporal immortality. In consequence of this, in spite of thousands of years of death and decay, there is still nothing lost, no atom of matter, still less anything of the inner being exhibiting itself as nature … Perhaps an exception would have to be made of the man who should once have said from the bottom of his heart to this game: ‘I no longer like it …’” W.W.R. II, 479; Ch. XLI
- ‘Where do earth, water, fire, and air,
- and long and short, and fine and coarse,
- pure and impure, no footing find?
- Where is it that both name and form
- die out, leaving no trace behind?’
On this the answer is: …
- —When consciousness ceases they all also cease.” DN 11
“Whoever sees conditioned genesis, sees Dhamma, whoever sees Dhamma sees conditioned genesis. These are generated by conditions, that is to say the five groups of grasping. Whatever among these five groups of grasping is desire, sensual pleasure, affection, grasping at, that is the uprising of suffering. Whatever among these five groups of grasping is the control of desire and attachment, the objection of desire and attachment, that is the stopping of suffering.” MN 28
5.8 “In general, therefore, the law of causality finds application to all things in the world, but not to the world itself, for this law is immanent to the world, not transcendent; with the world it is established, and with the world it is abolished. This depends ultimately on the fact that it belongs to the mere form of our understanding and, together with the objective world, that is thus mere phenomenon, is conditioned by the understanding. Therefore the law of causality finds complete application, and admits of no exception, to all things in the world, in accordance with their form of course, to the variation of these forms, and hence to their changes. It holds good of the actions of man as it does of the impact of a stone, yet, as we have said, always only in reference to events, to changes …” W.W.R. II, 43, Ch. IV
5.9 “If, therefore, we have recognized the inner nature of the world as will, and have seen in all its phenomena only the objectivity of the will; and if we have followed these from the unconscious impulse of obscure natural forces up to the most conscious action of the man, we shall by no means evade the consequence that, with the free denial, the surrender, of the will, all these phenomena also are now abolished.” W.W.R. I, 410; §71
“Indeed, friend, I declare there is no world wherein there is no birth, death, decay or repeated deaths and rebirths, the end whereof it is possible to know, see or reach by walking. But, friend, I do not declare that without reaching the end of the world one can make an end of sorrow. My friend, I do proclaim that in this very fathom-long body, with its feelings and mind, is the world, the world’s arising, the world’s ceasing and the path leading to the world’s ceasing.” AN 4:5, 5
“For whosoever, bhikkhus, samana and brāhmaṇa are thus reconstructers of the past or arrangers of the future; or who are both, whose speculations are concerned with both, who put forward various propositions with regard to the past and to the future, they, all of them, are entrapped in the net of these 62 modes (of speculation); this way and that they plunge about; but they are in it; this way and that they may flounder, but they are included in it, caught in it.” Brahmajāla Sutta, DN 1.3, 72
5.10 “Kant showed that these laws (… according to which all phenomena are connected to one another, and all of which time and space as well as causality and inference—I, comprehend under the expression the principle of sufficient reason … ), and consequently the world itself, are conditioned by the subject’s manner of knowing. From this it followed that, however far one might investigate and infer under the guidance of these laws; in the principal matter, i.e. in knowledge of the inner nature of the world in-itself and outside the representation, no step forward was made, but one moved merely like a hamster in his wheel. We therefore compare all the dogmatists to people who imagine that, if only they go straight forward long enough, they will come to the end of the world; but Kant had then circumnavigated the globe, and has shown that, because it is round, we cannot get out of it by horizontal movement, but that by perpendicular movement it is perhaps not impossible to do so. It can also be said that Kant’s teaching gives the insight that the beginning and the end of the world are to be sought not without us, but rather within.” W.W.R. I, 420–1
“By oneself, indeed, is evil done; by oneself is one defiled. By oneself is evil left undone; by oneself, indeed, is one purified: Purity and impurity depend on oneself. No one purifies another.” Dhp 165
5.11 “But in the light of our whole view, the will is not only free, but even almighty; from it comes not only its action, but also its world; and as the will is, so does its action appear, so does its world appear; both are its self-knowledge and nothing more. The will determines itself, and therewith its action and its world also; for besides it there is nothing, and these are the will itself.” W.W.R. I, 272, §53
5.12 “Only this world itself—no other—can bear the responsibility for its existence and its nature; for how could anyone else have assumed this responsibility? If we want to know what human beings, morally considered, are worth as a whole and in general, let us consider their fate as a whole and in general. This fate is want, wretchedness, misery, lamentation, and death. Eternal justice prevails. If they were not as a whole contemptible, their fate as a whole would not be so melancholy.’ In this sense we can say that the world itself is the tribunal of the world. If we could lay all the misery of the world in one pan of the scales, and all its guilt in the other, the pointer would certainly show them to be in equilibrium.” W.W.R. I, 352, §63
“Bhikkhus, I know no other single form by which a man’s heart is so enslaved as it is by that of a woman. A woman’s form obsesses a man’s heart. Bhikkhus, I know no other single sound by which a man’s heart is so enslaved as it is the voice of a woman.A woman’s voice obsesses a man’s heart. I know of no other single scent … savour … touch by which a man’s heart is so enslaved as it is by the scent, savour and touch of a woman. The scent, savour and touch of a woman obsesses a man’s heart. Bhikkhus, I know of no other single form, sound, scent, savour and touch by which a woman’s heart is so enslaved as it is by the form, sound, scent, savour and touch of a man. A woman’s heart is obsessed by these things.” AN 1:1 “Neither through matted hair, nor through clan, nor through birth is one a brahman. In whom there exist both truth and righteousness, pure is he, a brahman is he. He whose knowledge is deep, who is wise, skilled in the choice of the right and the wrong way, has reached the highest goal,—him I call a brahman. Dhp 393, 403
5.13 “If in our conception of the world we start from the thing-in-itself, the will-to-live, we find as its kernel and greatest concentration the act of generation. This presents itself as the first thing, the point of departure … Sexual desire, especially when through fixation on a definite woman, it is concentrated to amorous infatuation, is the quintessence of the whole fraud of this noble world; for it promises so unspeakably, infinitely, and excessively much, and then performs so contemptibly little. P.P. II, (263) 343, 166
5.14 “Then, whereas nature has established the widest difference, both morally and intellectually, between one man and another, society, regardless of all this, treats all alike, or rather sets up instead artificial differences and degrees of position and rank, which are often the very opposite of nature’s list of precedence. With this arrangement, those whom nature has placed low are in a very good position, but the few who are rated high by her come off badly. The latter, therefore, usually withdraw from society … for intellectual superiority offends by its mere existence without any desire to do so.” P.P. I, (401) 464, 9
“Love comes from companionship:
In wake of love upsurges ill.
Seeing the bane that comes from love,
fare lonely as rhinoceros.
In ruth for all his bosom-friends,
a man, heart-chained, neglects the goal.
Seeing this fear in fellowship,
fare lonely as rhinoceros.
The heat and cold, and hunger, thirst,
wind, sun-beat, sting of gadfly, snake:
surmounting one and all of these,
fare lonely as rhinoceros.
Leaving the vanities of view,
right method won, the way obtained:
I know! No other is my guide.
Fare lonely as rhinoceros.
Folk serve and follow with an aim:
Friends who seek naught are scarce today:
Men, wise in selfish aim, are foul.
Fare lonely as rhinoceros.
- (Sn 36, 37, 52, 55, 75)
5. 15 “In accordance with all this, it will be genuine wisdom of life in the man who in himself is worth anything if, in case of need, he limits his requirements in order to preserve or extend his freedom and, in consequence, he has as few dealings as possible with his fellowmen, for relations with them are unavoidable.” P.P. I, (402) 466, 9
5.16 “For we cannot with any certainty count on anyone but ourselves; moreover, the difficulties and disadvantages, the dangers and annoyances, that society entails are countless and inevitable.” P.P. I, (400) 463, 9
5.17 “What a man is and has in himself, that is to say personality and its worth, is the sole immediate factor in his happiness and well-being. Everything else is mediate and indirect.” P.P. I, (308) 357, Ch. 11
5.18 “I advise a man to learn to be alone to some extent even in company. Accordingly, he should not at once communicate to others what he is thinking; on the other hand, he should not take too literally what they say. On the contrary, he should not expect much from them, either morally or intellectually, and therefore, as regards their opinions, should strengthen in himself that indifference that is the surest way of always practising a praiseworthy tolerance.” P.P.I, (409) 475, 9
About The Author
Bhikkhu Nanājīvako (Cedomil Veljacic) was born in Yugoslavia in 1915 and has been a Buddhist monk residing in Sri Lanka since 1966. He received his Ph.D. degree in Indian and Greek philosophy and served as a Lecturer in Asian philosophy at the University of Zagreb in Yugoslavia. He is the author of many books on Buddhist and Indian thought in his native tongue. His writings have been published in journals and books in India, Sri Lanka and in many Western countries. His other BPS publications are “Aniccaṃ—The Buddhist Theory of Impermanence” in Three Basic Facts of Existence, Impermanence I. Collected Essays (Wheel No. 186/187) and “Karma—The Ripening Fruit” in Karma and its Fruit. Collected Essays (Wheel No. 223/224).
- Compare the statement of the Buddha, A. IV, 5, 5, facing text 5.10 below.
- Cf. Raymond Schwaab, La Renaissance Orientale, Paris, Payot, 1950
- Cf. paragraphs 359, 461, 564, 574, 577, 600, 673. See also our text 5.4, in Ch. IV.
- Cf. Der Handschriftliche Nachlass, II, pp.395-397.
- In the Avesta, the Iranian twin of the Veda, there is only the expression “duryo ziti” (“to live long”) which in the cosmological context could be compared by European scholars to the Christian ideal of a heavenly “immortality.” (cf. e.f. YAST 19,11)
- For Schopenhauer's understanding of the term “a-theism” see 0.22 (end).
- Human misery, human injustice and human stupidity.
- “For precisely on the strength of this bad element in him, of this evil principle, he was bound to become a human being,” Id, p. (177) 230.
- It seems obvious that this interpretation, contrary to any existing Buddhist cosmological tradition, was suggested rather by Brahmanical cosmology with which Schopenhauer had been acquainted earlier than with the respective Buddhist ideas. The idea of Brahmā-nirvāṇaṃ, adapted in the later Hinduism, as occurring in the Bhagavad-Gita does actually remain commingled with the principle of avidyā (nescience) in the nature of the divine creator. Cf. Bhagavad-Gita, III, 22-24: “I have no duty, nothing that I have not gained, and nothing that I have to gain, in the three worlds; yet I continue in action … If I did not do work, these worlds would perish…” and IV 6: “Though I am unborn, of changeless nature …, yet I come into being- by my own māyā.” In Schopenhauer’s later references to the same problem in Buddhism such inaccuracy does not recur. (See 0.8 above, where an authentic source is quoted, and also the following text, 0.22.
- In 0.26 Schopenhauer translates this Greek name as “the myth of the transmigration of souls. Today the Latin equivalent, ‘reincarnation’, is commonly used for this non-Buddhist doctrine (implying the belief in a permanent soul). Schopenhauer, is well aware of the difference and tries to explain it within the terms of his own philosophy. His explanation of the difference is contained in the following texts, 0.24 and 0.25.
- Greek word meaning re-generation and re-birth.
- At this point, in the last period of his work and life, Schopenhauer’s approach is the nearest to the Buddhist doctrine of rebirth. A much earlier formulation of his theory of palingenesis, reproduced in our text 0.25 below, seems still clearer in this regard; its second part, if read for itself, sounds almost as an orthodox statement of the Abhidhamma doctrine. However, the wider context shows that at that time Schopenhauer was not yet aware of such closeness of views nor of all the essential implications on the Buddhist side. Therefore Buddhism is not mentioned in 0.25.
- See analogies under 5.2, Ch. IV, below.
- Suffering, origin of suffering, cessation of suffering, the eightfold path to the appeasement of suffering. Schopenhauer quotes Fausböll’s Latin translation of the Dhammapada, referring to the gāthā 190–191 and 273– 274.
- Hence the annihilation, cessation and overcoming of corporeality, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness (i.e. The Five Constituents of existence)—this is the cessation of suffering, the end of disease, the overcoming of old age and death.” (S. XXII, 30)
- “Be it in the past, present, or future, whosoever of the samaṇa or brāhmaṇa (the latter are Vedic priests, the former non Vedic and therefore un-orthodox or free philosophers, like the Buddhists) regards the delightful and pleasurable things in the world as impermanent (anicca), painful (dukkha), and without a self (anattā), as diseases and cancers, it is he who overcomes the thirst (for existence, taṇhā) …” (S. XXII, 66)
- The radical difference of Schopenhauer’s understanding of the connotation “in-itself” as “striving” or will from the original meaning of the term thing-in-itself in Kant's philosophy is clearly stated in this sentence. See further explanation in the note to 3.1.
- Thesis formulated by Leibniz in his essay Theodicee, or “Glorification of God.”
- Schopenhauer’s Footnote: “Nothing can be more conducive to patience in life and to a placid endurance of men and evils than a Buddhist reminder of this kind: 'This is Saṃsāra, the world of lust and craving and thus of birth, disease, old age, and death; it is a world that ought not to be. And this is here the population of Saṃsāra. Therefore what better things can you expect?' I would like to prescribe that everyone repeat this four times a day, fully conscious of what he is saying.” Senilia 82
- Compare the formula of the dependent origination (paticca samuppada) quoted in addition to the text 0.25, Ch. II, above.
- Compare the statement of the Buddha in Dhammapada 160: “One oneself is the guardian of oneself; what other guardian would there be?”
- See note on the following page. Italics are ours.
- Compare Dhp 93: “He whose corruptions are destroyed, who cares naught for food, whose abode is emancipation through voidness and unsubstantiality—his path is hard to trace like that of birds in the air."
- Title of Chapter of The World as Will and Representation, Volume II.
- From the Buddhist standpoint it should be obvious that there is no proper structure corresponding to Schopenhauer's aesthetical approach to the problem of pure contemplation. On the other hand it is necessary to emphasize the specific position in Schopenhauer’s system of both the aesthetic and ethical functions. Just as both the good and the evil have to be transcended in a ’deeper’ understanding of the ultimate transmundane aim pointed out by the Buddha (see fragment added to the text 4.4), so in the analogous structure of Schopenhauer both art and morality obtain their metaphysical value only indirectly, in so far as they guide the capacity that is intended to reveal the ultimate aim of renunciation and ’salvation.’ From the world, not the capacity of enjoyment in it.
- Compare also text 0.27, Ch. II. above, containing direct reference to Buddhism, with the same motive.