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

Oct 23, 2011

The foolish virgins

The foolish virgins are not presented as having completely forgotten the bridegroom's coming; they are instead represented as having gone to purchase a new supply of oil — and yet they were excluded. Therefore one is not to excuse himself because he is, after all, doing something, occasionally thinking about the salvation of his soul, waiting for the publication of a new book, etc.

— Kierkegaard

Sep 1, 2011

Zarathustra returns, and speaks to a young man

My brother,

Be watchful that you don't lose your step. I see you struggling to find a way to harmonise your love of idealism, with harmony with the world. But it cannot be done!

You suffer greatly because you are caught between the two: wisdom and worldliness. You want to help others, but you also want to be seen as a helper.

You have lofty visions and high-aiming ideals, but you relish also the taste of victory and conquering and supremity. Which one will win in you?

Your idealism and love for high-aiming ideals makes you jealous of your goal. But you are also jealous in another way: that your ideals might cause you to crumble into weakness and failure. This is the war within you, that you distrust your highest hope.

Be watchful that you don't lose your step. Your struggle is filled with suffering, because your love for truth is still a desire for worldly power and praise. My brother, you must choose.

I see that suffering is an evil to you: thus you wish to speak softly and mildly, with the compassion of a just God. You believe that to arouse to anger is a harmful act.

But if speaking plainly and truthfully your own simple thoughts causes others to fly into a rage, then you are not speaking to your own kind!

It isn't your lot to speak to buzzing and angry flies and wasps. Don't misjudge yourself: climb higher, above suffering, so that you fear suffering no longer.

Yes, speak of love if you must, but speak to your own kind, and speak of love of truth!

Don't seek the love and praise of followers and kinsmen; if you would be a friend, then be their enemy, dowsing them with basins-full of ice-cold sea-water!

Climb higher, my brother! I see you suffering with your need for companionship. But make reason and your wise thoughts your only friend, for they lead you surely to your goal.

Watch that you do not slip, with your jealousy and hate. These companions follow from your burning idealism; they are but shadows of a need for worldly success.

Flee into your solitude, my brother. Find truer companions in your reason and your wise thoughts. Watch that you do not slip, my dear brother.

Thus spoke Zarathustra.

Aug 3, 2011

Lightness - Heaviness

Diese leichten thörichten zierlichen beweglichen Seelchen flattern zu sehen — das verführt Zarathustra zu Thränen und Liedern.
To see these light, foolish, delicate, beguiling little souls flutter — that moves Zarathustra to tears and songs.

Ich würde nur an einen Gott glauben, der zu tanzen verstünde.
I would only believe in a god that understood how to dance.

Und als ich meinen Teufel sah, da fand ich ihn ernst, gründlich, tief, feierlich: es war der Geist der Schwere, — durch ihn fallen alle Dinge.
And as I saw my devil, there I found him earnest, grounded, deep, fiery: it was the spirit of depression, — through him all things fail.

Nicht durch Zorn, sondern durch Lachen tödtet man. Auf, lasst uns den Geist der Schwere tödten!
Not by fury, but by laughter, does one kill. Up, let us kill the spirit of depression!

Ich habe gehen gelernt: seitdem lasse ich mich laufen. Ich habe fliegen gelernt: seitdem will ich nicht erst gestossen sein, um von der Stelle zu kommen.
I have learnt to walk: since then I let myself run. I have learnt to fly: since then I have not wanted to be urged beforehand, to get into place.

Jetzt bin ich leicht, jetzt fliege ich, jetzt sehe ich mich unter mir, jetzt tanzt ein Gott durch mich.
Now I am light, now I fly, now I see myself beneath myself, now dances a God through me.

— Friedrich Nietzsche, Also Sprach Zarathustra (Vom Lesen und Schrieben)

Jul 30, 2011

Walk before talking

It would make excellent tragic material: the young man who, persecuted by Marcus Aurelius, inspired by the courage of Polycarp and men like him in the hour of their death, also wanted to be a martyr, but when confronted by horrible torture became afraid and cursed Christ as the pagans demanded. — From this one sees that it is the same in Christianity as it is in earthly life: one must first grow before God and men, and even though in our time we are not exposed to such great temptations which in a horrible way destroy everything, nevertheless embryonic theologians, for example, ought to take care that, by beginning to preach too early, they do not talk themselves into rather than identify themselves with Christianity and take the consequences.

July 11, 1838

— Kierkegaard

Jul 21, 2011

Commenting on journalism

This comment was posted to Mike Tomalaris' interview with Cadel Evans after Stage 17 of the 2011 tour de France, on SBS Cycling Central (21/7/2011):

Interesting insight into the high-achieving athlete's psychology. The journalist keeps asking about emotional states, like "How do you FEEL?" "Do you feel x is bad or good?" "Has x made you angry / happy?" and so forth. But the athlete never answers these questions. Instead, he talks about principles, saying "I think..." "x is a situation with pros and cons" "x is an ideal, certainly, but we'll see how things go." The emotionalism wastes brain cells needed for solving problems efficiently.

Jul 14, 2011

The straight jacket

To be a truthful, rational person living in conformity with society is just as impossible as doing gymnastics in a straight jacket.

Jul 9, 2011

Anxiety - Nirvana

If a person could be entirely free of anxiety, temptation would not have access to him. - Soren Kierkegaard.

Samsara, the cycle of birth and death, is nothing more or less than desire for completion. To be free of desire is nirvana ("no-wind", the stillness of the nondual). - Kelly Jones

Jul 7, 2011

How to spot the difference between worldly wisdom and real wisdom (hint: the attitude to suffering)

What the clergy preach is not far removed from blasphemy. Everywhere in life's trivialities they find analogies to the highest. Someone has had a loss, and presto! — the preacher refers to it as the Isaac whom Abraham sacrifices. What nonsense! Is loss a sacrifice? To sacrifice means voluntarily to bring a loss upon oneself. A man is sick, presto! — it is the thorn in the flesh.

— Kierkegaard

Jul 2, 2011



The Problem

So far removed, so distant is Christendom (Protestantism, especially in Denmark) from the Christianity of the New Testament that I continually must emphasise that I do not call myself a Christian and that my task is to articulate the issue, the first condition for any possibility of Christianity again.

It was incendiarism (this is how Christ himself describes his commission), it was incendiarism, setting fire to men by evocatively introducing a passion which made them heterogeneous with what is naturally understood to be man, heterogeneous with the whole of existence, an incendiarism which must necessarily cause discord between father and son, daughter and mother — in short, in the most intimate, the most precious relationships, an incendiarism with the intention of tearing apart "the generation" in order to reach "the individual", which is what God wants and therefore the passion introduced was: to love God, and its negative expression: to hate oneself.

It was incendiarism. But it is not always water that is used to put out a fire — however, to keep the metaphor, I could certainly say that Christendom is the water that has put out the fire. But, as mentioned, one does not always use water; sometimes one uses, for example, featherbeds, blankets, mattresses, and the like to smother a fire. And so I say that if Christendom is the bulk that has smothered that fire once lighted, it now has such an enormous layer of the numerical beneath it that Christianity may serenely and safely be made into just the opposite of what it is in the New Testament.

Whoever you are, if it is your purpose, your idea to do your bit to help smother the fire still more, then get busily involved in this massive popularisation, doing it under the name of spreading Christianity, and you will do as much harm as you can possibly do. But if you want Christianity again, fire again, then do all you can to get rid of the featherbeds, blankets, and mattresses, the grossly bulky stuff — and there will be fire.

The orders for busyness of that kind are: Away, away with abstractions: the state church, the folk church, Christian countries — for any effort of that kind is treason against the fire; they are the featherbeds and blankets that help smother the fire still more. But efforts of the kind that aims at dispersing, aims at "the individual," are the solution.

It was incendiarism. For the time being forget that, forget that this is Christ's own view of Christianity. From what you see to be Christianity here, would it ever even remotely occur to you that it was to set fire that the founder of this religion came to earth, would you not get the overall impression that it must have been to put out fire that he came to the world.

It was incendiarism — and nowadays Christianity is reassurance, reassurance about eternity in order that we may all the better be able to rejoice and enjoy this life.

As we all know, a person can get sick from a fetid stench; there are various other disgusting smells which a man cannot bear, from which he gets sick — but one can also get sick from stupid nonsense. And just as during plague or cholera the surgeon walks about and chews on something to prevent inhaling, so also one may well have a spiritual need for something in the mouth when one has to work incessantly against stupid nonsense. But there is the difference that for the surgeon inhaling may actually be dangerous, and for the other practitioner it is not harmful, may even be beneficial. For while man by nature wishes for what can give him pleasure in life, the religious person on active duty needs a proper dose of disgust with life in order to be fit for his task; disgust with life, taken properly (for the way it is used is crucial), is the best safeguard against getting involved in stupid nonsense.

— Kierkegaard, year of his death

Jun 25, 2011

The only error in Soren Kierkegaard's conceptualisation of God

Kierkegaard's conceptualisation of Christ as God has a touch of illogicality about it, but this is the only fundamental error I've found in his thinking. Overall, he is among the wisest and most courageous men ever to exist, so in that context, his error is minor. But I am keen to expose any fault in conceptualisations of God, and his is definitely one.

God is spirit, or rather, the nature of Reality is not something in particular. That is what spirit means. It is emptiness of form. So, Kierkegaard rightly thought of Christ as spirit, since that is Christ's true nature.

But Kierkegaard did not see Christ as a human being who became enlightened, who was educated out of ignorance. He didn't see him as intrinsically God, beginning with the dull, unenlightened human state, and progressing to become wise. Instead, he saw Christ as intrinsically God, but beginning as God. He regarded Christ as the incarnation of God and therefore automatically enlightened.

What does this mean for his conceptualisation of God? It means that, on some level, he does not see human beings, and their finitude, as intrinsically God. He doesn't see their dependence on food and drink as spirit. He sees spirit as something other than human finitude. This is clearly an error, and it is possible that it caused him to suffer unnecessarily, by not making a clear distinction between a psychological dependence on finitude, which is what the spiritual life is all about overcoming, and finitude itself.

On the other hand, Kierkegaard was well-aware that his conceptualising was virtually always poetic. His approach to Christ was a psychological one, and he knew that. He knew all sinners in need of grace conceived of Christ as an immediate Savior, an idealistic icon, to restore the picture of living rightly. So it is possible that he knew he was overlaying the actuality of the God-man with the suffering and struggling sinner's picture of a perfect Savior. This basically means that the imperfect human conceives of perfection immediately, just like the perfect Buddha is present in the imperfect one: From one enlightened thought, another enlightened thought follows. So, given Kierkegaard mentioned how the image of Christ was manipulated in the needy sinner's mind to help them climb out of the mire of their ignorance, it is understandable that, in more troubled, depressed states of mind, his religious poetry and personified ideals got a bit out of hand.

— Kelly Jones

Jun 19, 2011

Eli Eli lama sabachthani?

The words "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me" were understood as Nemesis, that he who had had so much in his power had not been smart enough to assure his own future, etc. If I were to talk purely humanly about it, it is as if Christ in his human nature had become so lost in the God-relationship that everything else was forgotten. It is an expression of being extremely close to consummation, this feeling for the last time of the chasmic depth of separation between being man and being with God; therefore, it is the final expression for what comes next — being blessedly with God.

— Kierkegaard, 1848

Jun 5, 2011


There are basically two kinds. One is focussed on enlightenment pure and simple, the other deals with psychological blockages to, and is based on, same.

Spiritual growth techniques are, in essence, based on reason. All the unique and infinite ways used to overcome psychological hindrances to living spiritually are inevitably unique to the individual. But all of them boil down to those two kinds of meditation: reason focussed on enlightenment, and reason focussed on one's own personal indispositions.

Working out how to deal with one's own personal bad habits and resistances to enlightenment is wholly up to the individual, adopting or developing from scratch their own personal medicines. Most difficulties one will face - after having developed sufficient bodhicitta (the sheer resolve to be truthful, no matter the cost, and accepting no excuses) - are conquered with straightforward introspection and courage. Breakthroughs are usually a matter of a series of tiny shifts building up like a trickle becoming a flood.

Resolve powers through all objections and paralyses.

May 30, 2011


It is unbelievable how meager a conception of an essential view of existence men have. They live out their lives in tomfoolery. They go out into life saying: Perhaps I shall become a somebody, perhaps I'll be a nobody, perhaps I shall even be persecuted. What foolishness! Please, simply choose, and you do not need to guess; the specific conditions of existence can be calculated very well. If you will unconditionally risk everything for the good — then you will be persecuted, unconditionally persecuted, tertium non datur.

- Kierkegaard, 1847

Apr 19, 2011

To Have a Cause

To Have a Cause

A. Lower forms

  1. Because it seems good in the eyes of men, a sign of earnestness, etc., one speaks uninterruptedly about having a cause, about wanting to work for the cause, everything for the cause — and he has no cause except that of wanting to please men by his talk about having a cause. Such people have no cause but dress something up, a display mannequin which they coddle as if it were a child.
  2. One has a kind of cause — but the cause, however, is consequential only to the point of gaining one's own advantage by having the cause.
  3. One has a cause but supports it in every possible way by clubbing together etc.; one is happy when someone, even through misunderstanding, joins up, for although one has a cause, he wants to spare himself as much as possible, i.e., one wants to have a cause as little as possible.

B. Higher forms

  1. Ethical irony and intellectual, unselfish interest, which have a cause to the degree that it is hidden in order to prevent the misunderstanding of being of help to someone.
  2. The martyrs who suffer for the cause. They need have no fear at all of getting the support of men, because where there is suffering, men flee. But in any case, they are still careful to parry assistance through misunderstanding, if it should be offered, because the cause is to them unconditionally the absolute, the I unconditionally nothing. This is what it is to have a cause in the highest sense.

— Kierkegaard, 1851 (4 years before his death)

Angry reactions to living conscientiously

When a person voluntarily exposes himself to dangers and loss for the sake of a good cause, people reproachfully say, "It is his own fault," and become angry with him. What are they angry about? It is because of the voluntariness, the fact that he is disinterested, that he scorns what they aspire to as the highest. One can hurt a self-loving person in two ways: as a thief, a robber, gossip, et al., one can take away from him his earthly goods, but one can also by disinterestedness and sacrifice take the value away from those goods, those goods which he values as the highest. Men get just as bitter about the one way as the other. It is also a kind of reduction when that which a person regards as supreme and which he possesses is not actually taken from him but is shown to be empty and worthy of disdain.

- Kierkegaard, 1848

Mar 10, 2011

Definition of 99.9999999999% of humans: "Someone for whom Truth means Money"

How little resuscitation there is in life, after all, for one almost never gets a clear perception of the idea in an endeavor, but always mixed together with the illusions of finitude.

Let us take Hegel. How does he happen to become the great philosopher-author of seventeen volumes. Well, he probably had a pretty good head on his shoulders, was very industrious, and then he became B.A., M.A., and later professor — and now he begins to work. Now what call to life is there in this — always this triviality in the background: this is the way he makes a living. And then he probably makes money on his books — there we have it again.

To be sure, there is lofty talk that no one thinks about such things — well, maybe so, but it is the world's hypocrisy that at bottom it privately wants to have a shabby explanation of everything — and then talks in lofty tones. Make a test: place an endeavor right in front of people's noses (here in Copenhagen or wherever you want to), but a task which does not have a single illusion in it (neither money, office, honor, nor reputation), a task which, besides this, is so laborious and strenuous that one cannot speak of it as a kind of pleasure: and you will see, if people are encouraged in some way to express themselves completely openly, they will regard this man as crazy or so peculiar that he teeters on the border of insanity.

There is constant talk in the world about wanting only the truth, etc., but something else is always implied. A journal which seeks only the truth: well, this is regarded as all right if the journal has many subscribers, to seek only the truth in this way is understandable. And why? Because the great number of subscribers shows that it is earning a lot of money and that the journal must have a great influence. Think of a journalist who wants only teh truth, and consequently, if he originally had many subscribers, they steadily become fewer and fewer; at last he has so few that it is clear that he subsidizes the publication, and still he works just as diligently and industriously as anyone — and you will see that he is ridiculed or at least is regarded as odd.

Woe, woe, woe to these preachers who either are hulks who do not know how it all hangs together or are servile enough not to reveal it, fearing for their wages.

Opportunities come my way to discover this, even where I did not expect it. I can remember saying to Peter a year and a half ago: I believe I will give up being an author for good and start riding horses or something like that — and he answered (and with real earnestness): that would be the best thing to do. So purposeless, then, do my efforts seem to him. Had I become famous as an author, had I earned much money, then he would have said: You are not crazy after all.

— Kierkegaard, 1848

Mar 7, 2011

The bourgeois mentality

"One should love his neighbor as himself," say the bourgeois, and by this they mean the well-brought-up children and now useful members of the state — those who have great susceptibility to every transient emotional flu — for one thing they mean that when someone is asked for a pair of scissors, even though he is some distance away, he will say "Righto!" and get up "with great pleasure" in order to fetch them, and for another that one will remember to pay the proper visits of condolence. But they have never felt what it means to have the whole world give them the cold shoulder, for the whole pack of social herring in which they live naturally does not permit such a relationship to occur; and then when serious help is needed, good common sense tells them that anyone who is in great need of them and in all probability will never be in a position to help them in return — he is not their neighbor.

— Kierkegaard, 1837

Mar 2, 2011

The Electric Dog Goes Buddhist

This time, the Electric Dog was really down. None of his usual tricks and defenses worked. He tried to write a sensational bestseller, but could not get past a two-page outline. He wrote a revolutionary paper on drugs and the human mind, but no one wanted to publish it.

His worldly possessions dwindled to a futon, a laptop computer and a copy of the Dhammapada. He had no job and no home, and he managed to alienate most of his friends with his incessant complaints.

On top of it, his health was deteriorating; neither exercise, nor generous doses of multivitamins seemed to help. While the present was perfectly abhorrent, the future looked even bleaker.

What was he to do? Commit suicide? Get a straight job and go back to his girlfriend?

No, there was one last gambit he was going to try before limiting himself to such hard choices.

He was going to become a Buddhist.

He went to a monastery on top of a mountain where they taught mindfulness as a way out of life's misery. All one had to do was to watch one’s stomach rise and fall as one sat on a cushion for twelve hours a day. The delusions and desires of worldly life were supposed to slough off one's mind like so much loose debris. That sounded simple enough.

The Dog was so miserable and so determined to get rid of his misery that he actually engaged in this new method of finding happiness, quite conscientiously, for almost two weeks.

His buttocks hurt like hell. Instead of resting at night he had nightmares. Even the food, so eagerly awaited during sittings, somehow failed to satisfy him.

He was trying to get his mind to follow his breath--and whatever else was happening in his body — but the mind refused to be a trained circus pony and was bucking like a wild mare. It would only fall quiet in order to lull the Dog's suspicion and then throw him off its back all the more triumphantly.

Nonetheless, the Dog saw very clearly what a fraud he had been during his previous life. He saw the effects of his self-destructive and delusional thinking. He even learned how to, if ever so briefly, stop the restless meandering of his mind by watching his stomach rise and fall.

But to get beyond suffering or even beyond conflict about suffering or not suffering – that he could not do. He guessed that Buddhists, just like everyone else, were overselling their case.

One morning, he woke up with such a sense of desperation and hopelessness that the original choice of either getting a straight job and settling down, or committing suicide, reared its ugly head again.

That morning, he broke his usual routine, climbed up to the top of the mountain and sat there under a blue gum tree.

He resolved not to move until he could come up with the answer to his life's dilemma.

He sat there for what seemed like eternity.

Finally, strange energy began to pulsate through his body. He saw a brilliant white cloud descend upon him, illuminating the farthest recesses of his mind.

Just at that moment a bull ant bit him on his already sore buttocks. As the searing pain tore through his body, he experienced a blinding flash and a surging sense of enlightenment.

As his mind became more composed he perceived the meaning of his revelation: there were not four, but five Noble Truths of Buddhism. They went like this:

1. Life is a pain in the ass.
2. No matter how much you squirm, you are still going to get screwed.
3. The only way to deal with pain is to face it in life through action.
4. You are going to do everything possible to avoid facing truth No. 3, including learning all the tricks of meditation and the Buddhist jargon about the Four Noble Truths.
5. You can no more control your mind than you can control the movement of stars in the sky. But you can control people by teaching them how they can supposedly control their minds.

Who needs sex or possessions, he reflected, when you can have so much power?

The beautiful female acolytes will even put food into your bowl, so that you can become like a child (or a drone) before you enter Nirvana. You can watch junior monks go through mind-numbing rounds of meditation and walking which would even impress a drill sergeant. What's more, your charges would be doing it completely voluntarily. They would even try to outdo each other in their feats of submission and mortification.

The Dog found that among the aspiring followers of the Gentle One competition for merit, recognition, and power was even fiercer than in the society at large. Instead of greed, anger and ambition, steel buttocks, mental endurance and rote memory were the prerequisites for success. The Buddhist scene around him seemed to have as much to do with the original experience of Buddha as the sittings of the Vatican Council had to do with the wanderings of the unruly band of rogues who gathered around the rabble-rouser from Galilee.

The Dog got up from under the gum tree, gently rubbed the spot where the bull ant had bitten him, and started his descent from the mountain.

At first he thought that he would start teaching people the Five Noble Truths that had been revealed to him. But then he realized that people would not listen. They were so eager to give away their power for even a temporary relief from suffering via some second-hand guru or technique that they would ignore him and might even stone him.

The Dog stowed his futon in the van and started on the road leading back to town. He donated his copy of Dhammapada to the monastery's library. His buttocks still hurt but a vague sense of joy at having found his own truth was rising in his soul.

A butterfly skimmed over the road and landed on a gum tree. The Dog smiled. Why burn the house down just because it is going to fall over some day?

The butterfly seemed to be telling him, "Life may be short and full of strife and disappointment, but it is still worth living—with acceptance and grace."

At that point he became a Buddhist

— Pyotr Patrushev

Feb 28, 2011

The Principal Rule

Above all, read the N.T. without a commentary. Would it ever occur to a lover to read a letter from his beloved with a commentary!

In connection with everything which qualitatively makes a claim of having purely personal significance to me, a commentary is a most hazardous meddler.

If the letter from the beloved were in a language I do not understand — why, then I learn the language — but I do not read the letter with the aid of commentaries by others. I read it, and since the thought of my beloved is vividly present and my purpose in everything is to will according to her will and wishes, I understand the letter all right. It is the same way with the Scriptures. With the help of God I understand it all right. Every commentary detracts. He who can sit with ten open commentaries and read the Holy Scriptures — well, he is probably writing the eleventh, but he deals with the Scriptures contra naturam.

That is, while reading the letter you are occupied with yourself and your relation to the beloved, but you are not objectively occupied with the beloved's letter, that this passage, for example, may be interpreted in ten ways — oh, no, the important thing for you is to begin to act as soon as possible. Besides, should it not mean something to be the lover, should it not give you what the commentators do not have? Everyone is the best interpreter of his own words, it is said. And next comes the lover, and in relation to God the true believer. Pereat the commentators!

— Kierkegaard

Feb 20, 2011

From Diogenes of Sinope

This contains almost the entire selection of anecdotes about Diogenes of Sinope, attributed to him by Diogenes Laërtias.

The categories are:
- On begging
- Where are the real men?
- Diogenes' Virtue Thought Excessive by Others
- Conqueror of Men
- Thou Art Dust
- The Reversal of Values
- Life and Death the Same
- Live Simply
- Stop Being a Hypocrite
- Vanity of the Virtuous
- On the Complacency of the Old
- Sucking-up, aka Sycophancy and Flattery
- Chastising Effeminacy
- Mocking Gods, Beliefs, Rituals, and Cherished Values
- Idiot Philosophers
- Diogenes' life as a slave
- Diogenes' writings

Diogenes was successful in promoting his views, because people thought he was a comical madman, a simpleton-cum-jester. Plato called him "Socrates gone mad". He was laughed at, because people thought a philosopher must have dignity and social respect, and live with pomp, respect and class. They couldn't see that this was a dire irony on the entire notion of what a philosopher was.

Thus, the contrast between how Diogenes actually lived, and the ridiculously decadent norms of Ancient Athens society, was extreme. The contrast took on an absurd character, and was indeed comical. His contemporaries couldn't seriously believe that one who lived in a truly virtuous, honest way, would be so plain and gauche.

It is always comical when animals try to modify their animality by disguising it, namely, shitting in porcelain vases with flowery decals, gorging themselves on expensively produced food prepared in complex ways and served on exquisitely designed platters, fucking in a high-class, modish chamber on soft mattresses, pillows and cushions, and snarling at each other in complicated language; but twice as comical is the effect when they are contrasted with another animal who lives as a very simple animal without pretences or affectations, and who also speaks the truth. It's extremely comical. The former have all the semblance of nobility and of being advanced organism - but none of the substance - while the simple, garish animal is utterly transformed by his intelligence, simplicity, and truthfulness.

This, plus his resilience and moral strength, accounts for Diogenes' ability to "force" his views on everyone like an ubiquitous chatterbox, without being killed.

— Kelly Jones

Feb 10, 2011


"Authority" does not mean to be a king or to be an emperor or general, to have the power of arms, to be a bishop, or to be a policeman,* but it means by a firm and conscious resolution to be willing to sacrifice everything, one's very life, for his cause; it means to articulate a cause in such a way that a person is at one with himself, needing nothing and fearing nothing. This infinite recklessness** is authority. True authority is present when the truth is the cause. The reason the Pharisees spoke without authority, although they were indeed authorized teachers, was precisely that their talk, like their lives, was in the power of seventeen finite concerns.

*In margin: This is the conception of immanental authority, not the paradoxical conception of authority.

**In margin: Those with authority, therefore, always address themselves to the conscience, not to understanding, intelligence, profundity — to the human being, not to the professor.

— Kierkegaard

Feb 9, 2011

When Asceticism is Not

The Displacement of the Whole of Christianity

Christianity was degraded into becoming a state religion. At the same time Christianity thereby became a doctrine — and asceticism arose. Asceticism is situationless* renunciation. When Christianity battled and suffered persecution, asceticism in this sense was not needed.

*In margin: N.B. And again the consequence of this was meritoriousness, super-meritoriousness, also, that there were extraordinary Christians and ordinary Christians.

Feb 3, 2011

The Public / Private Conundrum

I have recently been accused on crossing the boundaries of the private/public, by publishing private emails without permission. In the final analysis, the accusation is based on the indignation they feel that one individual relies on their own thought and judgment, rather than another person's.

But thinking about the private/public concept is also stimulating and relevant.

The animal's interpretation of private/public has this meaning:

Private: what I really prefer.
Public: what I'd have others believe I prefer.

That is, the animal's concept is hypocrisy and falseness.

The spiritual man's interpretation of private/public has this meaning:

Private: what I suffer in my relationship to truth, willingly, that I do not tell others about, because it is mine to bear alone, and confiding in others is a refusal to bear it at all;
Public: what I let others know about for their benefit.

The animal believes there really is such a division, to protect his ego. It divides his own mind into compartments of honesty and falseness (he keeps his honesty hidden, and therefore makes everything to himself false). He has no real faith in anything, because when he speaks, he lies. That means he must also doubt his own inner thoughts, because he hears them in the same way that he hears his own speech.

The spiritual man creates a division between what he demands of himself, and what he requires of others. That division is the private/public concept. He sets a lower standard for others, but he will still not lower it as they would want him to. Thus, the standard is essentially unified, because his standard, and the lower standard he sets for others out of mercy for them, are both part of the same continuum. This means the spiritual man's concept of private/public is not divisive at all: it is all of one nature. He doesn't compartmentalise his mind.

Yes, I am disappointed in those who have attacked me for disrespecting their concept of private/public, because I thought some should have known better. But it is part of my spiritual trial, so I burden myself with it and hope to learn to have that apostolic division from the animal realm - to learn that I cannot have communion with any other being.

Kelly Jones

Jan 23, 2011

Kierkegaard's thoughts on the Apostle

Extract 1:

A frivolous, vain individual always has an extraordinary conception of an apostle's high honor — i.e., the good fortune, the glory of being an apostle; a humble, profound individual always has an extraordinary conception of an apostle's sufferings.

Extract 2:

An Illusion

The supposed humility and modesty

in admitting that one does not call

himself an apostle.

Here again is a confusion which appears with the help of "Christendom", which again has turned all Christian concepts topsy-turvy — that is, has prevented them from being what they were originally: turned around.

One is said to be humble and modest if he says: I do not call myself an apostle. Consequently to call oneself an apostle is pride, conceit. That this can be pride and conceit I do not deny; I desire only to illuminate the relationship a little better.

When one speaks this way, the presupposition is that to be an apostle is a distinction; the humility and modesty lie in not claiming distinction. Fine. But like everything Christian, to be an apostle is not a straightforward distinction but a distinction turned around. Here comes a little N.B. In relationship to all direct distinction or distinguishing, the matter is very simple; if it is true that I make no claims, this is being modest, for a direct distinction is without secondary qualifications a direct earthly benefit. But to be an apostle is sheer earthly suffering. Well, if an apostle could be permitted to live again after his teaching had won out, then it could perhaps be an earthly benefit to be an apostle. But while he was living, calling himself an apostle did not help him on the way to honor, respect, or earthly advantage. Precisely this, that he called himself an apostle, was the signal for his having to suffer more than the other adherents, suffer until death.

This is what it means to be an apostle — something quite different from that later conception, which with the help of an illusion takes the apostle in vain.*

*In margin:

And it must be remembered that in a certain sense there is nothing we are all more equally close to than to being an apostle, simply because here there is no question of the esthetic difference of being a genius, of having talent, etc. Certainly every human being has the right to order his life just as an apostle with regard to poverty, suffering for the truth, etc., except that he does not have the right to appeal to divine authority. But he must not feel embarrassed about the first [being like an apostle], least of all out of modesty; that is, if there is to be any question about true modesty, it must be to confess that one is too weak and sensuous, therefore to bring accusation against oneself; it must not be as when I am too modest to ask to become an ambassador, a demigod artist, knight of all the European orders, etc.

But if this is the case, then to ask to be regarded as modest because one does not call himself an apostle becomes questionable, for this can also be worldly ingenuity and effeminacy.

For the confusing word "apostle" (which has subsequently become secularized and identified with the other distinctions of the world) let us substitute a whole lifetime of being laughed at, mocked, persecuted, poor, jailed, and slain. If someone now says: I am not so immodest as to demand to become "His Excellency," etc. — well, this is quite direct. But let someone say: I am not so immodest as to demand to become poor, impoverished, outcast in the world, laughed at, slain — well, this is not quite as direct; for in each generation it is impossible to find ten peersons who have courage for this. Consequently it can also be worldly ingenuity and effeminacy which hold one back but also want the advantage of being regarded as humble. This is questionable.

O, if what Christianity is were only kept clearly in mind! That it is not a doctrine but an existence [Existents], that what is needed is not professors but witnesses [Vidner] — then we would be free of all this self-important scholarliness [Videnskabelighed], these show-offs who are scholars — something Christianity now needs. No, if Christ did not need scholars but was satisfied with fishermen, what is needed now is more fishermen. Precisely because Christ was present, the danger would not have been so great if Christianity had fallen into the hands of scholars.

The error is not the studying, but the error is that the accent continually falls on the wrong place — on penetrating and presenting — thus to do something about it becomes ridiculous, a triviality. A simple man, however, has no distractions. Such a man straightway fastens his gaze upon his life, whether it has any meaning or is completely meaningless. But this simplification with regard to drawing up the account is of utmost importance; for then the accent falls on the right place, on existence [Existentsen].

Extract 3:

"The Apostle"

The condition sine qua non for all enjoyment of life is a certain evenness; the person with a most wretched lot also can gain a certain enjoyment if he only has this daily evenness.

But no other situation in life, not one, makes it so impossible to enjoy life as being an apostle. This horrifying life of being tossed in a blanket. At one moment to be brought into direst need, perhaps ravenously hungry, then to be willing — if it be God's will — to die of hunger — and then get a reprimand: You of little faith! Or, in order not to suffer ravenous hunger, to be quite willing to work for his livelihood — and then, just as he is beginning at it, a miracle happens, and he gets a reproof: You of little faith! O, it is a dreadful misery, a kind of conscious madness in all his blessedness, for it is like madness.

Ah, however spoiled and frivolous I am, so much will surely be granted me that I at least have dared venture far enough to be honest toward the extraordinary and not to take him in vain, at least to have a tolerably true idea of how infinitely the extraordinary has suffered.

Extract 4:

Serpens, nisi serpentum comederit, non fit Draco.

Further: a rat is trained to bite rats by eating a rat out of hunger.

The reverse: only a person who is bitten by men becomes an apostle; this belongs in order to qualify his passion; an apostle in direct understanding with men is an impossibility.

Jan 21, 2011


is actually nothing but impatience.

— Kierkegaard (1850)

Jan 5, 2011

The psychology of sexual desire

is all about social status. The pair-bond creates a psychological realm that is a secret sanctuary known only to the self and the lover. This deep emotional bond powerfully drives away the encroaching menace of the low social status of: being a frail, single self, solitarily pitted against "all the others".

      The lover-bond is a "love-cocoon", absorbing, swallowing and embracing the two lovers against "all the others". But there is an interesting dynamic here.

Namely, those two are a symbol of "all the rest".

      Once a small, vulnerable, single self becomes the fortified solace of the couple, once one is in a definite sexual/emotional coupledom, once one becomes a group-entity, then the power of the many has suddenly been established and endorsed. No longer are "all the rest" a feared power. Instead, they are an extension of one's new doubled-self.

      That is, a coupledom is many, rather than a unit of two individuals. The couple is the basic unit of the masses.

      This is why so many people couple up: it is social power, personal safety, and an emotional buffer against the tenuous frailty of being an infinite, and therefore non-existent, self.

Kelly Jones

Jan 1, 2011

Something about the Forgiveness of Sins

To believe the forgiveness of one's sins is the decisive crisis whereby a human being becomes spirit; he who does not believe this is not spirit. Maturity of the spirit means that spontaneity is completely lost, that a person is not only capable of nothing by himself but is capable only of injury to himself. But how many in truth come in a wholly personal way to understand of themselves that one is brought to this extremity. (Here lies the absurd, offense, the paradox, forgiveness of sins.)

Most men never become spirit, never experience becoming spirit. The stages — child, youth, adult, oldster — they pass through these with no credit to themselves; it is none of their doing, for it is a vegetative or vegetative-animal process. But they never experience becoming spirit.

The forgiveness of sins is not a matter of particulars — as if on the whole one were good (this is childish, for the child always begs forgiveness for some particular thing which it did yesterday and forgets today, etc.; it could never occur to a child, in fact, the child could not even get into its head, that it is actually evil); no, it is just the opposite — it pertains not so much to particulars as to the totality; it pertains to one's whole self, which is sinful and corrupts everything as soon as it comes in slightest contact with it.

Anyone who in truth has experienced and experiences what it is to believe the forgiveness of one's sins has indeed become another person. Everything is forgotten — but still it is not with him as with the child who, after having received pardon, becomes essentially the same child again. No, he has become an eternity older, for he has now become spirit. All spontaneity and its selfishness, its selfish attachment to the world and to himself, have been lost. Now he is, humanly speaking, old, very old, but eternally he is young.

The restless arrow

Just as the expert archer's arrow leaves the bowstring and has no rest before it reaches the target, so the human being is created by God with God as his aim and cannot find rest before he finds rest in God.