Nov 28, 2011

Kierkegaard's conception of Christ

Really, the only weakness in Kierkegaard's writing is that he didn't keep strongly pointing out what he meant by Christ. It is very easy for people these days, who call themselves Christians, to interpret his ideas about relying on Christ, in the light of their customary Christian views.

That is, they read Kierkegaard with the same old mawkish, saccharine attitude to Christ that he spent his life criticising.

Unfortunately, Kierkegaard doesn't always bring home that criticism, when it is needed. He got lazy. He expected people to have finally got the message. But they haven't. The situation is far, far, far more advanced than in his time.

So, I have to publish an amendment within his proposal below:


A Proposal to Put an End to All the Nonsense about How One Enters into Christianity

In regard to all existential knowing, the main thing is to bring about the situation. This is what people have completely forgotten, and for this reason they cannot get an impression of Christianity.

I am thinking of a man who so far does not have any impression of Christianity and is not deeply gripped by the sense of his sin but lives on in the comfortable notion that he is still going to be saved.

Let him then take and read the New Testament. No one can deny that the ethical teaching presented here is such that it moves the imagination of every man.

Well, now, let him begin there. He carries out his intention to realize Christianity; for the present, he says, it makes no difference whether Christ has existed or not, who wrote the New Testament, etc.

And so he carries it out. But look, because he carries it out, he will in a Christian way collide with the world; he will be abused as an egotist just when he acts most disinterestedly, etc.

Now the pinch comes, now he cannot hold out alone — now he must have religious help. In order to hold out against the surrounding world he must have religious help. But not for this reason alone — he must also have it to hold out against himself. Simply because the world squeezes him so strongly, he must — in order to hold out by himself — be entirely sure at every moment that the error is not in him, that he perfectly realizes the good.

See, now the matter is in full swing; now he needs grace; now he needs Christ.

[By Christ, Kierkegaard does not mean a human version of an omniscient and all-powerful deity, that overly-imaginative psychological conception of a spirit guide which is the most popular and widespread conception of Christ. He is talking simply about being fully conscious of what a Christ is: a God-man. A God-man is both God (the formless Infinite) and, importantly, a conscious being (an advanced biological organism that can reason and be aware of God's nature, and live according to this truth). A god-man is God conscious of itself; all things are God, but not all things are conscious. So the religious need described above is the need of the sinner, in the thick of his impulse to sink into egotistical self-protectiveness, to remember his true nature as Christ. He is not seeking an external authority to guide him, but looks inwardly to recollect and build up in himself the Christ. — KJ, 28/11/2011]

This is Christianity. Let a person just begin seriously to will to realize it and he will soon learn to need Christ. Let him literally give all his fortune to the poor, literally love his neighbor, etc. and he will soon learn to need Christ. Christianity is a suit which at first glance and to the imagination seems attractive enough, but as soon as one actually puts it on — then one must have Christ's help in order to be able to live in it.

It seems to me that this is very simple. But this aspect of Christianity people have completely abolished. And yet this aspect is suggested in Christ's words: If anyone wills to do what I say, he shall experience etc.; he shall experience — yes, it is almost ironical, he shall first of all experience that he needs the help of Christ.


Nov 21, 2011

Thoughts on the 10 Bulls

Kakuan's 10 Bulls has already been quoted in "This is the Infinite Speaking" several years ago. It is probably the clearest expression of this entire weblog's Idea, and is the most sturdy and shining enlightened song I've ever encountered. Nature sings with a crystal-clear voice in Kakuan's song.

Some sages playfully tempt me with the idea that Nature is a seductress, like a fashion-ecstatic woman who is playing dress-ups in her private boudoir, throwing on fashionable guise after guise, and modelling new draperies and dresses, new forms and ever-new forms, in an enthralled game of ongoing blind whimsical creation. They imagine Nature as the fun-loving siren, who laughingly lures us poor human fools into tripping into her enchanting, highly distracting, sensorial traps and forgetting the essential unholdability of Nonduality.

But the song of Kakuan reminds me what these sages seem to have forgotten: that us poor fools are Nature. Our own being-prone-to-delusion, our own flawed mental artifacts, our own karmic penchants for falling in thrall to the illusions, is also Nature. It is not that we are sinners, and Reality is pure. The sinning and forgetfulness --- the roaming of the mind, what Kakuan calls the waywardness of the Bull --- is direct experience of Reality. There is no separation, no division between Nature as a cruel puppeteer controlling our thoughts, and us, the helpless dancers-victims of Her play. No, no. That is all wrong.

To sum up what the crux of the truth is:

To see oneself rightly, see Nature first. See Everything is causality, Everything the Way. Purposeless or purposeful --- forget this. Don't look at Nature through the human, through the ego, through one's human needs. No, look and absorb into yourself first the emotionless wanderings of causality, then make this your self: that is really who you are. With Nature as Self, there is an end to the search. Then the human self has its place. Don't chase figments of the finite human self: you'll be chasing endless fantasies.


Here is the commentary of Kakuan's 10 Bulls again. Linger over it, study it deeply with all your being. Note, one stanza can represent the actuality of one's existence, that is, one's actual relationship to Nature, for many months. So, there is no sense in trying to read all the stanzas as if they could be learnt at once. Few people ever experience the first stage; the last is as rare as a perfect Buddha.


1. The Search for the Bull

The bull has been lost. What need is there to search? Only because of separation from my true nature, I fail to find him. In the confusion of the senses I lose even his tracks. Far from home, I see many crossroads, but which way is the right one I know not. Greed and fear, good and bad, entangle me.


2. Discovering the Footprints

Understanding the teaching, I see the footprints of the bull. Then I learn that, just as many utensils are made from one metal, so too are myriad entities made of the fabric of self. Unless I discriminate, how will I perceive the true from the untrue? Not yet having entered the gate, nevertheless I have discerned the path.


3. Perceiving the Bull

When one hears the voice, one can sense its source. As soon as the six senses merge, the gate is entered. Wherever one enters one sees the head of the bull! This unity is like salt in water, like colour in dyestuff. The slightest thing is not apart from self.


4. Catching the Bull

He dwelt in the forest a long time, but I caught him today! Infatuation with scenery interferes with his direction. Longing for sweeter grass, he wanders away. His mind still is stubborn and unbridled. If I wish him to submit, I must raise my whip.


To be continued...

Nov 7, 2011

Seek first the kingdom of God

"Seek first the kingdom of God" — these words could be presented in such a way that one negatively examines everything else and shows that this is what one should not do, or in such a way that one shows that the first manifestation of seeking God's kingdom first is, in a certain sense, to do nothing; for to seek the kingdom of God first is at first the same as to renounce everything.

Seek first the kingdom of God. But what am I supposed to do? Shall I seek an office in order to be influential? No, first you shall seek God's kingdom. Shall I give all my fortune to the poor? No, first you shall seek God's kingdom and his righteousness. Shall I go out in the world as an apostle and proclaim this? No, first you shall seek God's kingdom. But isn't this in a certain sense doing nothing at all? Yes, to be sure, in a certain sense this is what it is.

— Kierkegaard