West-östliche Begegnungen in Sprache und Kultur, Literatur und Wissenschaft
Edited By Ernest W.B. Hess-Lüttich and Yoshito Takahashi
Goethes „Idee des Reinen“ und das zenbuddhistische Nichts: Yoshito Takahashi (Heian Jogakuin University Kyoto)
Yoshito Takahashi (Heian Jogakuin University Kyoto)
For Europeans, Zen-Buddhist ‘nothingness’ is difficult to grasp. But instead of ‘nothingness’, another term might be easier to comprehend. It is Goethe’s word “purity”. Shortly after giving birth to her child, Goethe’s sister Cornelia passed away on June 8, 1777. Receiving the news, Goethe was deeply shocked. He was unable to work and there seemed to be no limits to his sadness and torment. Probably to overcome this crisis, he skated nearly every day during the winter of 1776/1777. Running on ice, he felt – for some limited time – liberated from his agony. During this period, the word “purity” appears frequently in his diary and letters. “Pure serenity”1 (diaries, November 13 1777). “All day long,(I) was in a state of unchanged purity” (November 30 1777, FA II-2, 112). “Much time on the ice this week, always in the same, nearly too pure mood. Good insights concerning myself and our way of life, serenity and anticipation of wisdom” (diaries, February 1778, FA II-2, 126). “I wished the idea of purity extending to the food I put into my mouth would become ever more illuminated.” (August 7 1779. FA-II-2, 184). Like in the case of a room that becomes ‘pure’ after cleaning and emptying it, inner consciousness also becomes ‘pure’ when empty – logical thinking doesn’t play a role anymore, but only observation which regards everything in front of it clearly and vividly. All things dark and murky are swept away and a state...
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