Dec 27, 2008

Buying sweets - Buying suffering

A pagan (Cicero, in De finibus) relates that the greatest sensualist in the Orient (Sardanapalus) put on his tombstone: I took all the pleasures of the world with me to the grave — to which another pagan (Aristotle) is supposed to have said: How so? You could not even hold on to a single one of them while you were living.

— Kierkegaard

Dec 21, 2008

Both-And --- Either/Or

From a strictly Christian point of view, what we men call earnestness in contrast to diversion is often nothing but diversion.

— Kierkegaard

Dec 18, 2008


Emotional suffering when young is a vital ingredient for becoming wise. It is necessary to learn how painful life can be, and that being alive and experiencing is not intrinsically enjoyable.

This is not sadomasochism.

A deep, lasting, strong experience of emotional pain will force a person to become indifferent to life. If they can bear up under that pain, without sinking into self-pity or suicidalism, then they are able to reflect on what it is that makes life different to not-living.

They become dwellers in the land of thought, imagination, and reflection.

If they can live in between life and death, with no strong attachment to either, neither wishing to "make merry and forget their woes" or to "celebrate destruction and nihilism", then they become thinkers and are likely to have some wise insights.


A link to some interesting images.

Dec 17, 2008

Regarding the starry evening sky

Alas, but man is still an animal-creature, and the indolent inclination to ape and mimic seems to be his second nature. That is why it is so very easy to collect them in a herd; that a proclaimer will get thousands who want to learn what he says by rote, perhaps become professors of it — but perhaps not one in ten thousand who himself gazes at the starry evening sky. But are not the proclaimers all too frequently to blame when the whole thing becomes aping and copying, for it is to their earthly and temporal advantage. Be unprincipled, if you will, toward the starry evening sky, make it seem that what is glorious is not the starry evening sky but your conception of it, get a few blaring knights of commerce on your staff, and you will soon get a crowd who will pay a fancy price for your wonderful instruction. Ah, but if you are honest toward the starry evening sky, if you tell the truth and declare that the glory belongs to it and that every man could if he would see its glory in his own way, and that his own way means infinitely much more to him than yours to him or his to you: well, then there is really no occasion for making money or for animal-like crowding together in herds.

— Kierkegaard

Dec 9, 2008


...any crime is far preferable to this self-satisfied, smiling, cheerful, blissful demoralisation: mediocrity.

Soren Kierkegaard

Dec 1, 2008

The knife edge of living according to the truth

Resignation to the Infinite is a simple matter. It just means following one's reason in regards the nature of ultimate reality. It just means: stop building something. This indeed is easy.

But now arises the difficulty. Karma (one's memory, habits, routines, preferences, and a life-time of deep-engrained beliefs) is all about building the self up, building anything up, as a safe haven in reality. This sets one's whole being against reason. This is the personal struggle, of ongoing and profound resignation. Perhaps after many years, one finds new force in the habit of reason. So one starts to 'float' and the habit of constructing fades.

But now arises a greater difficulty. One floats, living beside things, resigned to any environment and any experience. One's higher understanding, emptied of a need for self - reputation, accomplishment, experience to fall back on, etc. - stands in collision with the entire human environment. Clearly, one values the highest and purest resignation possible. And because of this valuing, there is a struggle against wishing for the entire human environment to be dragged up and educated.

So here is the collision with the world. In the same instant, there is the old danger, of the ego wanting to protect itself by destroying a worldful of threats (human evil), posed with a higher expression of the same (wanting all other selves to resemble oneself), posed with a purer, higher form of ego (wanting to be a self that exists with no attachment to any environment), posed with an even higher ego that values not protecting the false self by hiding in a selfish, unattacked, private heavenly bliss, posed with an even higher ego that submits its claims to accomplish anything and simply enters into the world with a deep consciousness of the true state of affairs.

And in this collision is that awareness that no matter how one does try within the world to educate, one's resignation - to these enormous demands on consciousness to run the program of reason through every level of egotistical rebellion in oneself consistently and constantly - will enforce the belief in others that one is half-mad, obsessive, depressive, and doing something torturously unnatural - and they will flee one.

Maneating is spiritual obesity and it kills

Preachers and professors eat the dead. Novelists, writers of romances, and minor authors eat even the living. It never occurs to such a scoundrel that he could assist some greater excellence not to succumb. O, no, even if he could, he owes it to his trade not to do it lest he miss out on a poetic motif and the public's eagerness for just that sort of writing.

- Kierkegaard

(A confessional demonstration of my own maneating)

Sublimation - Subliminal

transitive verb
1: to cause to pass directly from the solid to the vapor state and condense back to solid form
2 a (1): to elevate or exalt especially in dignity or honor
(2): to render finer (as in purity or excellence)
b: to convert (something inferior) into something of higher worth
intransitive verb: to pass directly from the solid to the vapor state
[Etymology: C14th Middle English, from Middle French sublimer, from Medieval Latin sublimare to refine, sublime, from Latin sublimis to elevate.]

Sublimation: to divert the expression of (an instinctual desire or impulse) from its unacceptable form to one that is considered more socially or culturally acceptable.
[Etymology: C15th Middle English, from Medieval Latin sublimatus, past participle of sublimare]


1: inadequate to produce a sensation or a perception
2: existing or functioning below the threshold of consciousness
[Etymology: 1886 sub- + Latin limin-, limen threshold]

Nov 26, 2008

A story

His character was weak; moreover he had a great sense and fondness for enjoying life, and not the simpler pleasures but the more refined ones, yes, the most refined of all: being honored, esteemed, and respected as a man of earnestness, character, and principles, a man who stands firm when everything shakes, etc.

He was in fact a very gifted man intellectually, an exceptional orator, and definitely was brilliantly shrewd.

This combination is Bishop M., and this combination has managed to confuse a whole generation with respect to Christianity. For his weakness of character is never seen, since it is covered up by his brilliant shrewdness; his desire for pleasure is never seen, it is accepted as — a new refinement! — devout freedom of spirit in contrast to pietistic anxiety.

-- Kierkegaard, 1854

Jun 11, 2008


By primitivity Christianity does not of course mean the usual fanfare about the intellectual, about being a genius and the like. No; primitivity, spirit, means staking your life and putting the kingdom of God first, first, first. The more literally a person can accept this, and act accordingly, the more primitivity he has.

....Anyone who has persevered in living up to his primitivity has a reliable knowledge of existence, may be rated an able seaman on life's ocean, has something he can vouch for. If a blushing (oh, Socrates!) youth turns to such a man he will not talk a lot of moonshine, nor will he offer the youth that sham reliability: be like the others.

....primitivity - having to be primitive, alone with God without being preceded by others whom one can ape and to whom one can refer for corroboration - is something people accept most reluctantly. All deadening of spirit is bound up with this historical taking shelter and making a pretext of the innumerable millions who have lived before us.

— Kierkegaard (1854, year before dying)

Jun 4, 2008

Genius in confrontation with the choice between happiness (women, society) and morality

The reason why madness overtakes so many men of genius - fools believe it comes from the influence of Venus, or the spinal degeneration of neurasthenics - is that for many the burden becomes too heavy, the task of bearing the whole world on the shoulders, like Atlas, intolerable for the smaller, but never for the really mighty minds. But the higher a man mounts, the greater may be his fall; all genius is a conquering of chaos, mystery, and darkness, and if it degenerates and goes to pieces, the ruin is greater in proportion to the success. The genius which runs to madness is no longer genius; it has chosen happiness instead of morality. All madness is the outcome of the insupportability of suffering attached to all consciousness.

— Otto Weininger

The man of genius possesses, like everything else, the complete female in himself; but woman herself is only a part of the Universe, and the part can never be the whole; femaleness can never include genius. This lack of genius on the part of woman is inevitable because woman is not a monad, and cannot reflect the Universe.

— Otto Weininger

It is certainly true that most men need some kind of a God. A few, and they are the men of genius, do not bow to an alien law. The rest try to justify their doings and misdoings, their thinking and existence (at least the menial side of it), to some one else, whether it be the personal God of the Jews, or a beloved, respected, and revered human being. It is only in this way that they can bring their lives under the social law. . . .

— Otto Weininger

Woman and Genius

It is through woman that ideality is born into the world and - what were man without her! There is many a man who has become a genius through a woman, many a one a hero, many a one a poet, many a one even a saint; but he did not become a genius through the woman he married, for through her he only became a privy councillor; he did not become a hero through the woman he married, for through her he only became a general; he did not become a poet through the woman he married, for through her he only became a father; he did not become a saint through the woman he married, for he did not marry, and would have married but one - the one whom he did not marry; just as the others became a genius, became a hero, became a poet through the help of the woman they did not marry.

— Kierkegaard

Women, in general, are not attracted to art at all, nor knowledge, and not at all to genius.

— Rousseau

Male conspiracy cannot explain all female failures. I am convinced that, even without restrictions, there still would have been no female Pascal, Milton, or Kant. Genius is not checked by social obstacles: it will overcome.

— Camille Paglia, in Sexual Personae

There are no female geniuses because there are no female Jack-the-Rippers.

— Camille Paglia

Women of genius commonly have masculine faces, figures and manners. In transplanting brains to an alien soil God leaves a little of the original earth clinging to the roots.

— Ambrose Bierce


Genius does what it must, and Talent does what it can.

— Owen Meredith Earl of Lytton

Jun 3, 2008

Communion with Nature

One can very well eat lettuce before its heart has been formed; still, the delicate crispness of the heart and its lovely frizz are something altogether different from the leaves. It is the same in the world of the spirit. Being too busy has this result: that an individual very, very rarely is permitted to form a heart; on the other hand, the thinker, the poet, or the religious personality who actually has formed his heart, will never be popular, not because he is difficult, but because it demands quiet and prolonged working with oneself and intimate knowledge of oneself as well as a certain isolation. Even if, in a full-toned voice, I could say something that would please each and every one, if it were of a religious nature I would not say it, because it is already a kind of religious indecency that it should be necessary to make an outcry about it; on the contrary, religious things have to do with a softly murmured soliloquy with oneself. Alas, things are so topsy-turvy that, instead of having to do with each individual going alone into his secret closet to commune quietly with himself, people believe that religion is a matter for very loud talk.

— Soren Kierkegaard

Jun 1, 2008

'The bad Infinite' vs. 'the good Infinite'

The principal objection, the total objection to the natural sciences, can formally be expressed simply and definitely like this: It is unthinkable that it could occur to a human being who has reached a conclusion about himself as a spirit in relation to eternity, to choose physical science (with its empirical material) as a field for his efforts.

....That a physicist has a consciousness goes without saying, he has a consciousness within the circumscribed scope of his talent, perhaps he has amazing acumen, a gift of combination, almost a conjuror's knack for idea-associations, and so on. But at the very maximum it amounts to this: such an eminent talent, this absolutely uniquely gifted man is able to explain Nature, but does not understand his own self! He does not become transparent to himself in regard to his spiritual destiny, to the ethical guidance of his talent, etc.

But this state of affairs is nothing but scepticism, as is easily seen (for scepticism is this: that an unknown quantity, some 'X', can explain everything. But when everything is explained through an 'X' which is not explained, then in toto nothing is explained, nothing at all. If this is not scepticism, then it is superstition.)

— Soren Kierkegaard

Religion and the sexes

The greatest possible misunderstanding about religious matters between one human being and another occurs when you take a man and a woman, and the man wants to teach her religion, and the whole bliss inherent therein, in this being for God, then becomes the object of her amorous love.

— Soren Kierkegaard

May 31, 2008

The ultimate extinction of the Dharma

"Thus have I heard. At one time the Buddha was in the state of Kushinagara. The Tathagata was to enter Nirvana within three months and the bhikshus and Bodhisattvas as well as the great multitude of beings had come to pay homage to the Buddha and to bow in reverence. The World Honored One was tranquil and silent. He spoke not a word and his light did not appear. Worthy Ananda bowed and asked the Buddha,

'O Bhagavan, heretofore whenever you spoke the Dharma, awesome light would naturally appear. Yet today among this great assembly there is no such radiance. There must be a good cause for this and we wish to hear the Bhagavan's explanation.'

The Buddha remained silent and did not answer until the request had been repeated three times. He then told Ananda,

"After I enter Nirvana, when the Dharma is about to perish, during the Evil Age of the Five Turbidities, the way of demons will flourish. Demonic beings will become Shramanas; they will pervert and destroy my teachings. Wearing the garb of laypersons, they will prefer handsome clothes and their precept sashes will be made of multi-colored cloth. They wll use intoxicants, eat meat, kill other beings and they will indulge in their desire for flavorful food. They will lack compassion and they will bear hatred and jealousy even among themselves.

"At that time there will be Bodhisattvas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Arhats who will reverently and diligently cultivate immaculate virtue. They will be respected by all people and their teachings will be fair and egalitarian. These cultivators of the Way will take pity on the poor, they will be mindful of the aged, and they will save and give counsel to those people they find in difficult circumstances. They will at all times exhort others to worship and to protect sutras and images of the Buddha. They will do meritorious deeds, be resolute and kind and never harm others. They will forsake their bodies for others' benefit. They will hold no great regard for themselves but will be patient, yielding, humane, and peaceful.

"If such people exist, the hordes of demonic bhikshus will be jealous of them. The demons will harass them, slander and defame them, expel them from their midst and degrade them. They will ostracise the good monks from the monastic community. Thereafter these demons will not cultivate the Way-virtue. Their temples and monastic buildings will be vacant and overgrown with weeds. For want of care and maintenance their Way-places will drift into ruin and oblivion. The demonic bhikshus will only be greedy for wealth and will amass great heaps of goods. They will refuse to distribute any of it or to use it to gain blessings and virtue.

"At this time, the evil monks will buy and sell slaves to till their fields and to slash and burn the mountain forests. They will do harm to living creatures and they will feel not the least bit of compassion. These slaves will themselves become bhikshus and maidservants will become bhikshunis. Totally lacking in Way-virtue, these people will run amok, indulging in licentious behaviour. In their turbid confusion they will fail to separate the men from the women in the monastic communities. From this generation on, the Way will be weakened. Fugitives from the law will seek refuge in my Way, wishing to be Shramanas but failing to observe the moral regulations. The precepts will continue to be recited twice a month, but in name alone. Being lazy and lax, no one will want to listen any longer. These evil Shramanas will be unwilling to recite the sutras in their entirety and they will make abbreviations at the beginning and at the end of the texts as they please. Soon the practice of reciting sutras will stop altogether. Even if there are people who recite texts, they will be unlettered, unqualified people who will insist, nonetheless, that they are correct. Bumptious, arrogant, and vain, these people will seek fame and glory. They will display elegant airs in the hope of attracting offerings from other people.

"When the lives of these demonic bhikshus come to an end their essential spirits will fall into the avici hells. Having committed the five evil sins, they will suffer successive rebirths as hungry ghosts and as animals. They will know all such states of woe as they pass on through aeons as numerous as sands on the banks of the Ganges River. When their offences are accounted for they will be reborn in a border land where the Triple Jewel is unknown.

"When the Dharma is about to disappear, women will become vigorous and will at all times do deeds of virtue. Men will grow lax and will no longer speak the Dharmas. Those genuine Shramanas they see will be looked upon as dung and no one will have faith in them. When the Dharma is about to perish, all the gods will begin to weep. Rivers will dry up and the five grains will not ripen. Epidemic diseases will frequently take the lives of multitudes of people. The masses will toil and suffer while the local officials will plot and scheme. No one will adhere to principles. Instead, all people will be ever more numerous like the sands of the ocean-bed. Good persons will be hard to find; at most there will be one or two. As the aeon comes to a close, the revolution of the sun and the moon will grow short and the lifespan of people will decrease. Their hair will turn white at the age of forty years. Because of excessive licentious behaviour they will quickly exhaust their seminal fluids and will die at a young age, usually before sixty years. As the life-span of males decreases, that of females will increase to seventy, eighty, ninety, or one hundred years.

"The great rivers will rise up in disharmony with their natural cycles, yet people will not take notice or feel concern. Extremes of climate will soon be taken for granted. Beings of all races will mix together at random, without regard for the noble and the mean. They will alternately sink and float like feeding creatures.

"Then there will be Bodhisattvas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Arhats who will gather together in an unprecedented assembly because they will all have been harried and pursued by the hordes of demons. They will no longer dwell in the assemblies but the Three Vehicles will retreat to the wilderness. In a tranquil place they will find shelter, happiness, and long life. Gods will protect them and the moon will shine down upon them. The Three Vehicles will have an opportunity to meet together and the Way will flourish. However, within fifty-two years the Shurangama Sutra and the Pratyutpanna Samadhi, the Standing Buddha Samadhi, will be the first to change and then to disappear. The twelve divisions of the canon will gradually follow until they vanish completely, never to appear again. Its words and texts will be totally unknown everafter. The precept sashes of Shramanas will turn white of themselves. When my Dharma disappears it will be just like an oil lamp which flares brightly for an instant just before it goes out. So too, will the Dharma flare and die. After this time it is difficult to speak with certainty of what will follow.

"So it will remain for the next ten million years. When Maitreya is about to appear in the world to become the next Buddha, the planet will be entirely peaceful. Evil vapors will have dissipated, rain will be ample and regular, the crops will grow abundantly. Trees will grow to a great height and people will grow to be eighty feet tall. The average lifespan will extend to 84,000 years. It will be impossible to count all the beings who will be taken across to liberation."

Worthy Ananda addressed the Buddha, 'What should we call this Sutra and how shall we uphold it?'

The Buddha said, "Ananda, this sutra is called The Ultimate Extinction of the Dharma. Tell everyone to propagate it widely; the merit of your actions will be measureless, beyond reckoning."

When the four-fold assembly of disciples heard this sutra they grieved and wept. Each of them resolved to attain the true path of the Supreme Sage. Then bowing to the Buddha, they withdrew.

---The Buddha Speaks the Ultimate Extinction of the Dharma Sutra, from the Shurangama Sutra, Introduction II.

Apr 21, 2008

Sex and Character

The feminine is unconscious, but the masculine is conscious.

The sage consciously surrenders to the truth which he is conscious of, whereas unconscious things, like the feminine, or a rock, are simply undifferentiated.

--- Kevin Solway