Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Mindfulness and Traditional Western Philosophy Part 4: Romantics and Idealists

"The spirit of inquiry is fundamental to living mindfully. Inquiry is not just a way to solve problems. It is a way to make sure you are staying in touch with the basic mystery of life itself and of our presence here. Who am I? Where am I going? What does it mean to be? What does it mean to be a ... man, woman, child, parent; a student, a worker, a boss, an inmate; a homeless person? What is my karma? Where am I now? What is my way? What is my job on the planet with a capital J? Inquiry doesn't mean looking for answers, especially quick answers which come out of superficial thinking. It means asking without expecting answers, just pondering the question, carrying the wondering with you, letting it percolate, bubble, cook, ripen, come in and out of awareness, just as everything else comes in and out of awareness." - Mindfulness teacher Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are (1994), p.
Part 1 of this blog post series dealt with the most famous Pre-Socratic Western philosophers, Part 2 looked into the Socratic philosophers' main themes, and Part 3 concerned The Renaissance and The Enlightenment. This post will deal with the most prominent thinkers of the Romantic and Idealist movements.

A single quote closest to each philosopher's most radical and meaningful ideas has been used to represent their core value to history.

Men are devoured by our towns. In a few generations the race dies out or becomes degenerate; it needs renewal, and it is always renewed from the country. Send your children to renew themselves, so to speak, send them to regain in the open fields the strength lost in the foul air of our crowded cities. - Jean-Jacque Rousseau (1712-1778).
  • "Forests are delightful where other people do not because the one who is free from passion rejoices therein seeking no sensual pleasure." - The Buddha, Dharmapada Sutra (Narada Translation, 1959), Chapter 7, Verse 99.
  • "Bird-song drowns me in feeling.
    Back to my shack of straw to sleep.
    Cherry-branches burn with crimson flower,
    Willow-boughs delicately trail.
    Morning sun flares between blue peaks,
    Bright clouds soak in green ponds.
    Who guessed I’'d leave that dusty world,
    Climbing the south slope of Cold Mountain?" - Zen Hermit Hanshan (9th Century AD), Words From Cold Mountain: Twenty-Seven Poems by Han-Shan (Translated by A. S. Kline, 2006).
  • "Prince Siddhartha retired to the forest to sit beside a stream for many years before returning to the world of people. Today we live in noisy and polluted societies, filled with injustice, but we can take refuge in a public park or along a river bank for a moment." - Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sun, My Heart (1988), p38-39.
  • "...when we seek calmness so many of us find it in nature. The natural world has no artifice. The tree outside the window, and the birds in it, stand only in the now, remnants of what was once pristine wilderness, which was and is, where it is still protected, timeless on the scale of the human. The natural world always defines now." - Mindfulness teacher Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Coming To Our Senses (2006), p146.
  • "Our psychological well-being may depend on being able to find someplace in nature where we can go and just hear the sounds of the world itself, without the sounds of human activity, of airplanes, cars, and machines." - Mindfulness teacher Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living (2005), p413.

I have no knowledge of myself as I am, but merely as I appear to myself.- Immanuel Kant (1724-1804).
  • "If you seek direct understanding, don’t hold on to any appearance whatsoever, and you’ll succeed. I have no other advice. The sutras say, "All appearances are illusions." They have no fixed existence, o constant form. They’re impermanent. Don’t cling to appearances and you’ll be of one mind with the Buddha. The sutras say, "’That which is free of all form is the Buddha."" - The First Zen Patriarch Bodhidharma (early 5th century AD), Bloodstream Sermon.
  • Shakyamuni Buddha, in addressing His great assembly, once said, “When you see all material forms, which are provisional, as being part of That which goes beyond such appearances, you will then be seeing the Tathagata.” To see the forms of things and to see That which goes beyond such appearances is a realization experienced bodily, one which will free you from delusion. As a consequence, you will meet the Tathagata." - Japanese 'Soto Zen' Founder Master Eihei Dogen, Shobogenzo (Translated by Hubert Nearman, 2007), p703.
  • "If you see a flower only as a flower and don’t see the sunshine, clouds, earth, time, and space in it, you are caught in the sign of the flower. But when you have touched the nature of interbeing of the flower, you truly see the flower. If you see a person and don’t also see his society, education, ancestors, culture, and environment, you have not really seen that person. Instead, you have been taken in by the sign of that person, the outward appearance of a separate self. When you can see that person deeply, you touch the whole cosmos and you will not be fooled by appearances." - Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, Understanding Our Mind (2001), p397.
  • "...language itself forces us to speak of a separate 'I' who has a body. We wind up sounding hopelessly dualistic. And yet, in a way there certainly is a separate I who "has" a body, or at least, there is a very strong appearance of that being the case and we have spoken of this as being the level of conventional reality, the relative, the level of appearances. In the domain of relative reality, there is the body and its sensations (object), and there is the perceiver of the sensations (subject). These appear separate and different." - Mindfulness teacher Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Coming To Our Senses (2006), p383.

"The Absolute is Mind (Spirit) - this is the supreme definition of the Absolute." - Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831).
  • "Zen master Xiqian entered the hall and addressed the monks, saying, “[...] You should each recognize your miraculous mind. Its essence is apart from temporary or everlasting. Its nature is without pollution or purity. It is clear and perfect. Common people and sages are the same. [This mind] reaches everywhere without limit. It is not constrained by the limits of consciousness." - Zen's Chinese Heritage - The masters and their teachings (2000), p81.
  • "...the manifestation of the Spiritual Body is one’s giving voice to Buddha Nature, for It is unbounded radiance and It is absolute." - Japanese 'Soto Zen' Founder Master Eihei Dōgen (1200-1253),  Shobogenzo (Translated by Hubert Nearman, 2007), p262.
  • "Even though you observe just one flower, that one flower includes everything. It is not just a flower. It is the absolute, it is Buddha himself. We see it in that way. But at the same time, that which exists is just a flower, and there is no one to see it and nothing to be seen. That is the feeling we should have in our practice and in our everyday activity." - Japanese Soto Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki, Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness (1999), p88-89.
  • "This is the absolute: call it God, Buddha-nature, whatever you wish. This experience, filtered through my particular human mechanism, makes my world. We cannot point to anything in the world, seemingly inside or outside ourselves, which is not experiencing. But we couldn’t have what we call a human life unless that experiencing were transformed into behavior." - American Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen (1997), p90.
  • "When you have an experience of rotating in consciousness so that your world does all of a sudden feel bigger and more real, you are catching a glimpse of what Buddhists refer to as absolute or ultimate reality, a dimensionality that is beyond conditioning but that is capable of recognizing conditioning as it arises. It is awareness itself, the knowing capacity of mind itself, beyond a knower and what is known, just knowing." - Mindfulness teacher Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Coming To Our Senses (2006), p350-351.

"Satisfaction is the positive element of life, which is freedom from pain." - Arthur Schopenhauer (1770-1831).
  • "When a man tastes the flavor of seclusion and the flavor of quietness, he is then free from anguish and stain, enjoying the taste of the Dharma." - The Buddha, Dharmapada Sutra (Narada Translation, 1959), Chapter 15, Verse 205.
  •  "Your real body has no sensation, no hunger or thirst’, no warmth or cold, no sickness, no love or attachment, no pleasure or pain, no good or bad, no shortness or length, no weakness or strength. Actually, there’s nothing here. It’s only because you cling to this material body that things like hunger and thirst, warmth and cold, sickness appear. Once you stop clinging and let things be, you’ll- be free, even of birth and death. You’ll transform everything. You’ll possess Spiritual powers " that cant be obstructed. And you’ll be at peace wherever you are." - The First Zen Patriarch Bodhidharma (early 5th century AD), Bloodstream Sermon.
  • "We learn in our guts, not just in our brain, that a life of joy is not in seeking happiness, but in experiencing and simply being the circumstances of our life as they are; not in fulfilling personal wants, but in fulfilling the needs of life; not in avoiding pain, but in being pain when it is necessary to do so." - American Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen (1997), p44-45.
  • "Freedom is closely connected with our relationship to pain and suffering. I’d like to draw a distinction between pain and suffering. Pain comes from experiencing life just as it is, with no trimmings. We can even call this direct experiencing joy. But when we try to run away and escape from our experience of pain, we suffer. Because of the fear of pain we all build up an ego structure to shield us, and so we suffer. Freedom is the willingness to risk being vulnerable to life; it is the experience of whatever arises in each moment, painful or pleasant. This requires total commitment to our lives. When we are able to give ourselves totally, with nothing held back and no thought of escaping the experience of the present moment, there is no suffering. When we completely experience our pain, it is joy." - American Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen (1997), p191.
  • " is not always the pain per se but the way we see it and react to it that determines the degree of suffering we will experience. And it is the suffering that we fear most, not the pain." - Mindfulness teacher Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living (2005), p285-286.

"Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced."  - Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855).
  • "Examination, in the sense of awareness, does not mean analysis. It only means continuous recognition. Thinking requires strenuous mental work, and makes us tired. This is not the case while resting in awareness or "recognizing." We have a tendency to think that meditation demands a great mobilization of "gray matter," but that is really not the case. A meditator is
    not a thinker; a meditator does not do mental labor. On the contrary, meditation rests the mind." - Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sun My Heart (1988), p27.
  • "Most people live in delusion, involved in their problem, trying to solve their problem. But just to live is actually to live in problems. And to solve the problem is to be a part of it, to be one with it." - Japanese Soto Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (1995), p82.
  • "I keep returning to the direct experience in my body of the truth of this matter. I just sit with the tension and contraction, breathing through it. And in doing this I get more in touch with who I am and the decision begins to be clear. If I feel completely muddled it isn’t that there’s a problem that I have to find some way to solve; I just don’t know who I am in connection with that problem." - American Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen (1997), p182.
  • " do not have to solve any of your problems in order to get started. All that you really need to do is to start practicing and start paying more careful attention from moment to moment during your day. With time, movement toward self-regulation happens naturally." - Mindfulness teacher Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living (2005), p313.
  • "Mindfulness does not negate the brain’s natural desire to solve problems. It simply gives us the time and space to choose the best ways of solving them. Some problems are best dealt with emotionally – we select the solution that ‘feels’ best. Others need to be slogged through logically. Many are best dealt with intuitively, creatively. Some are best left alone for now."
    - Professor Mark Williams, Mindfulness: A practical guide to peace in a frantic world (2011), p12.

"Religion is the opium of the masses." - Karl Marx (1818-1883).
  • "I do not call him a holy man because of his lineage or his high-born mother. If he is full of impeding attachments, he is just a supercilious man. But who is free from impediments and clinging - him do I call a holy man." - The Buddha (~ 5th Century BC), Dhammapada (Translated by Acharya Buddharakkhita, 1985), Chapter 26, Verse 396.
  • "It has been said that, according to the understanding of non-Buddhists, the self that has not yet sprouted up [the soul] is taken to be what is fundamental. According to the Buddha’s Teaching, it will not be like this. [...] If you are confused about what thoughts and things are, you will become confused as to what the true appearance of thoughts and things are. If you are confused about their true appearance, you will be confused about what the saying ‘each Buddha on His own, together with all Buddhas’ is pointing to." - Japanese 'Soto Zen' Founder Master Eihei Dogen, Shobogenzo (Translated by Hubert Nearman, 2007), p788.
  • "Because you believe in a self, you compare that self with other selves. Out of it come the superiority complex, the inferiority complex, the equality complex. If you touch the truth of non-self in you, you are free." - Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, Question and Answer Session with Thich Nhat Hanh and Monastic Brothers and Sisters, European Institute of Applied Buddhism Waldbrol, Germany, May 20, 2011.
  • "Through practice we wear out the fantasies we have about running out the door to something somewhere else. We put most of our effort into maintaining and protecting the ego structure created out of the ignorant view that “I” exists separately from the rest of life. We have to become aware of this structure and see how it works because — even though it is artificial and not our true nature — unless we understand it, we will continue to act out of fear and arrogance. By arrogance I mean the feeling of being special, of not being ordinary." - American Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen (1997), p191.
  • "..the great delusion of separateness that we indulge in, coupled with our deeply conditioned habits of mind, the scars we carry, and our general level of unawareness, can result in particularly toxic and disregulating consequences for both our body and our mind." - Mindfulness teacher Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living (2005), p231.
  • "...there will come a time when our bodies will grow old and die, whether we’re ready for it or not. This can mean we end up ignoring or mistreating our bodies. We might not treat them as enemies, but we certainly don’t care for them as we would a friend. The body becomes something of a stranger. We tune out the messages it sends to us, creating more distress than we could ever imagine. For if mind and body are one, then to treat the body as somehow separate from us is to perpetuate a profound sense of dislocation, right at the heart of our being. If there is one thing that we need to learn in order to bring peace and ‘ease of being’ into our lives in the midst of a frantic world, it is how to ‘come home’ to this part of ourselves that we have ignored for too long." - Professor Mark Williams, Mindfulness: A practical guide to peace in a frantic world (2011), p93.

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger." - Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900).
  • "When we take hold of our afflictions and use them as compost, the flowers of joy, peace, liberation, and happiness will grow. We must accept what is here and now, including our suffering and our delusion. Accepting our suffering and delusion already brings us some peace and joy. This is the beginning of practice." - Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, Understanding Our Mind (2001), p331-332.
  • "We say, "Pulling out the weeds we give nourishment to the plant." We pull the weeds and bury them near the plant to give it nourishment. So even though you have some difficulty in your practice, even though you have some waves while you are sitting, those waves themselves will help you. So you should not be bothered by your mind. You should rather be grateful for the weeds, because eventually they will enrich your practice." - Japanese Soto Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (1995), p36.
  • "...what really is, at a Zen sesshin, is often fatigue, boredom, and pain in our legs. What we learn from having to sit quietly with that discomfort is so valuable that if it didn’t exist, it should. When you’re in pain, you can’t spin off. You have to stay with it. There’s no place to go. So pain is really valuable." - American Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen (1997), p11.
  • "...the mindfulness approach ...involves, above all, a willingness to open up to pain and learn from it instead of closing off from it and trying to make it go away." - Mindfulness teacher Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living (2005), p290-291.
  • "...paradoxically, even though mindfulness practices are very effective at alleviating suffering, they require that we be willing to experience pain more vividly. It’s the same way that it hurts to clean out an infected wound, even though this allows the wound to heal and ultimately leaves us feeling better. In both situations, we need faith and courage to move forward, trusting that our overall well-being is worth enduring short-term discomfort." -  Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School, Ronald D. Siegel, The Mindfulness Solution (2010), p98

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