Monday, 14 December 2015

Schopenhauer and the Upanishads

Om symbol

“One who meditates upon and realizes the Self discovers that everything in the cosmos – energy and space, fire and water, name and form, birth and death, mind and will, word and deed, mantram and meditation – all come from the Self."

The Upanishads, Eknath Easwaran translation, Narada's education, 26.1,  p.140-141, Nilgiri Press. Kindle Edition.

The Upanishads came to the west rather late. Some of them appeared in translation between 1802 and 1804 and the first German translation of these was in 1808 and had a profound influence on Schopenhauer (C. G. Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, Princeton/Bollingen, 1970, p.517n). From these texts he was able to build on the writings of Kant and this bore fruit with his The World as Will and Idea. In his preface, he advises the reader to read it twice and after the first reading, to read an appended essay before the second reading. I can understand why this was necessary and faced part of his problem when I wrote my own book on the coinage of the Coriosolites, for certain subjects can only be understood in a holistic manner and (as I said in my book) a book is a linear vehicle of understanding. The other part of his problem is that eastern ways of thinking were totally alien to western people of his time and his efforts to circumvent the western patterns of thought resulted in more complexity and the use of more examples than would be necessary today for anyone with a basic grounding in quantum physics and/or depth psychology.

Jung says: "...the will, as disposable energy, gradually subordinates itself to the stronger factor, namely to the new totality-figure I call the self (On the Nature of the Psyche, p. 134, Princeton...) and (ibid, p. 80): "In Schopenhauer we find the unconscious Will as the new definition of God". Jung also says (Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting  Principle, p. 12):
"Schopenhauer believed in the absolute determinism of the natural process and furthermore in a first cause. There is nothing to warrant either assumption. ... The idea that the simultaneous points in the causal chains, or meridians, represent meaningful coincidences would only hold water if the first cause really were a unity.But if it were a multiplicity, which is just as likely, then Schopenhauer's whole explanation collapses, quite apart from the fact, which we have only recently realized, that natural law possesses a merely statistical validity and thus keeps the door open to indeterminism."
I should, perhaps, append the above paragraph by saying that Jung defines psychic energy as libido, but Freud only placed sex in that role. While sex is certainly part of the Jungian libido, it is only a very small of part of this vast totality which includes all mental energies.

I think a quote from physicist David Bohm would be apropos to finish with as Bohm also struggled with describing the whole and created his Rheomode as a better way of describing these ideas:
"We have got to see that thought is part of this reality and that we are not merely thinking about it, but that we are thinking it”. (On Creativity, p. 141)
or, one could come to understand the quote from the Upanishads that I started with.

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