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Nietzsche and the Buddha

Different Lives, Same Ideas (How Nietzsche May Yet Become the West’s Own Buddha)

Daniel Chapelle

This book examines Nietzsche’s claim that he could be the "Buddha of the West." A close reading of his texts shows substantial similarities with the Buddha’s teachings, suggesting a potential basis and a potentially promising future for a Western Buddhism that would be based on Nietzsche’s philosophy. The book first provides a brief comparative biography of Nietzsche and the Buddha and then a review of the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path and of what there is in Nietzsche’s writings that is his equivalent to those teachings.

While the West often looks to neuroscience to validate the Buddhist teachings and practices, this book suggests it would be better to study Nietzsche’s thought to discover not only validation for Buddhist teachings but the very foundation of a "Buddhism" that is of the West, by the West, and for the West.

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Chapter 13. Right Concentration

Extract

·13·

Right Concentration

1. Buddha’s right concentration

“Right concentration” (Pali and Skt samadhi) is the eighth element of the Eightfold Path. With right concentration one increasingly abandons dependence on the intellectual mode of knowing reality and one enters ever more deeply into direct, wordless, thought-free knowledge. Right concentration simultaneously sets the conditions for that shift and generates its effect. Its purpose is to personally realize the third of the Four Noble Truths, the natural possibility of liberation from unhappiness. The path that begins with right view of reality culminates in directly experiencing it. One no longer thinks right view; one is it and lives it.

Right concentration becomes increasingly subtle and different from one’s usual ways of understanding. It also becomes increasingly difficult to use words to convey what is involved. Here the teaching method depends more and more on the explicit use of imagery to indicate what is at stake. But only direct experience ultimately matters, and that can neither be forced to occur nor guaranteed. Right concentration is a process in which one suddenly “gets” an←235 | 236→ insight or realization, without even being able to pinpoint exactly how one “got” it. This gives the experience a revelatory quality.

Developing right concentration is not one event but a process involving stages, each moving further beyond the usual modes of consciousness. On a practice level it makes the mind function increasingly evenly, with increasingly clear attention, until it becomes...

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