• Alan Watts – The Trickster Guru?

    I have often thought of writing a novel, similar to Thomas Mann’s “Confessions of Felix Krull,” which would be the life story of a charlatan making out as a master guru – either initiated in Tibet or appearing as the reincarnation of Nagarjuna, Padmasambhava, or some other great historical sage of the Orient.

  • Atheism has been Part of Many Asian Traditions for Millennia

    To many, atheism – the lack of belief in a personal god or gods – may appear an entirely modern concept. After all, it would seem that it is religious traditions that have dominated the world since the beginning of recorded history. As a scholar of Asian religions, however, I’m often struck by the prevalence ...

  • Behind the Scenes

    Metaphysics, however, speaks continually and in the most various ways of Being. Metaphysics gives, and seems to confirm, the appearance that it asks and answers the question concerning Being. In fact, metaphysics never answers the question concerning the truth of Being, for it never asks this question. Metaphysics does not ask this question because it ...

  • Being ‘interesting’ is Not an Objective Feature of the World

    What does it mean for an experience to be interesting? First, to say that something is interesting is to describe what the experience feels like to the person undergoing it. This is the phenomenological quality of the experience. When we study the phenomenology of something, we examine what it feels like, from the inside, to ...

  • Biblical Prophecy

    In a chapter entitled “The Messianic Prophecies of the Old Testament Fulfilled in Jesus Christ,” Josh McDowell lists a grand total of 61 Old Testament prophecies he claims were fulfilled in the life of Jesus. The first great problem with accepting these as valid proof is that there is no extra-biblical source of validation. True, ...

  • Deus Absconditus – The Hidden God

    The Deus Absconditus is actually quite simple. It is a rejection of philosophy as the starting point for theology. Why? Because if one begins with philosophical categories for God one begins with the attributes of God. For Luther, it was impossible to begin there and by using syllogisms or other logical means to end up with a ...

  • Divine Wisdom

    In The Secret Doctrine we are told that Plato was not merely the greatest philosopher of Greece but also an Adept who belonged psychically, mentally and spiritually to the higher planes of evolution, a ‘Fifth-rounder’ in the Fourth Round, immensely higher than is our present humanity. He imparted spiritual truths through myths and allegories as ...

  • Eloi! Eloi! L’mah Sh’vaktani?

    But I cry out to you, Adonai;
    my prayer comes before you in the morning.
    So why, Adonai, do you reject me?
    Why do you hide your face from me?

  • Emptiness, form, and Dzogchen ethics

    For a hundred years, the West has wrestled with the problem of ethical nihilism. God’s commands once provided a firm foundation for morality; but then he died. All attempts to find an alternative foundation have failed. Why, then, should we be moral? How can we be sure what is moral? No one has satisfactory answers, despite many ingenious ...

  • Epistemology & The Soul

    When I began to inquire into the relationship of the body to the mind, spirit, or soul, I had no idea how deeply profound the topic really is, and how hotly debated it has been throughout history. Most people today would explain, in a very Neoplatonic way, that the human soul is analogous to a ...

  • Great Doubt, Great Death, Great Awakening

    The Kyoto School (京都学派 Kyōto-gakuha?) is the name given to the Japanese philosophical movement centered at Kyoto University that assimilated western philosophy and religious ideas and used them to reformulate religious and moral insights unique to the East Asian cultural tradition.” However, it is also used to describe several postwar scholars from various disciplines who have taught at ...

  • How Al-Farabi drew on Plato to argue for censorship in Islam

    You might not be familiar with the name Al-Farabi, a 10th-century thinker from Baghdad, but you know his work, or at least its results. Al-Farabi was, by all accounts, a man of steadfast Sufi persuasion and unvaryingly simple tastes. As a labourer in a Damascus vineyard before settling in Baghdad, he favoured a frugal diet ...

  • I Believe Because it is Absurd

    This paradoxical expression makes a routine appearance in philosophical evaluations of the rationality of religious belief, in contemporary polemics addressed to an imagined opposition between science and religion, and in virtually every reputable dictionary of quotations.

  • Ibn Tufayl and the Story of the Feral Child of Philosophy

    Ibn Tufayl, a 12th-century Andalusian, fashioned the feral child in philosophy. His story Hayy ibn Yaqzan is the tale of a child raised by a doe on an unnamed Indian Ocean island. Hayy ibn Yaqzan (literally ‘Living Son of Awakeness’) reaches a state of perfect, ecstatic understanding of the world. A meditation on the possibilities ...

  • Index Librorum Prohibitorum

    The Index Librorum Prohibitorum (“List of Prohibited Books”) was a list of publications deemed heretical or contrary to morality by the Sacred Congregation of the Index (a former Dicastery of the Roman Curia); Catholics were forbidden to read them. The historical context in which the Index appeared involved the early restrictions on printing in Europe. ...

  • Is Religion a Universal in Human Culture or an Academic Invention?

    Smith wanted to dislodge the assumption that the phenomenon of religion needs no definition. He showed that things appearing to us as religious says less about the ideas and practices themselves than it does about the framing concepts that we bring to their interpretation. Far from a universal phenomenon with a distinctive essence, the category ...

  • Kierkegaard Attacked the Christianity of the Church, Nietzsche Attacked Christendom as Such

    No, the opposite of sin is faith, as it says in Romans 14:23: “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” And this is one of the most decisive definitions for all Christianity – that the opposite of sin is not virtue but faith.

  • Lau Tzu say…

    The way that can be spoken of

    Is not the constant way;

    The name that can be named

    Is not the constant name.

  • Lost in Translation

    It would surely be a category error to assume that the story of Christ’s overthrow of death and sin cannot express a truth that transcends the historical and cultural conditions in which it was first told. But, before we decide anything at all about that story, we must first recover it from the very different ...

  • Meta-Physical Non-Sense

    Arguments for and against the Existence of God

    The polytheistic conceptions of God were criticized and derided by the monotheistic religions. Since the Enlightenment, monotheistic concepts have also come under criticism from atheism and pantheism.

  • Modern Technology is akin to the Metaphysics of Vedanta

    You might think of the atma like this. Imagine you’re watching a film in the cinema. It’s a thriller, and you’re anxious about the lead character, trapped in a room. Suddenly, the door in the movie crashes open and there stands… You jump, as if startled. But what is the real threat to you, other ...

  • Muhammad: an Anticlerical Hero of the European Enlightenment

    Publishing the Quran and making it available in translation was a dangerous enterprise in the 16th century, apt to confuse or seduce the faithful Christian. This, at least, was the opinion of the Protestant city councillors of Basel in 1542, when they briefly jailed a local printer for planning to publish a Latin translation of ...

  • Natural Theology & Classical Apologetics

    Why is there something rather than nothing? Or in a more subjective sense – How and why do I exist? These questions have intrigued mankind for thousands of years. Is it possible to prove the existence of God? Each side of this ancient debate is by no means lacking of great scholars and philosophers. Everybody ...

  • Nietzsche & Buddhism

    In my condemnation of Christianity I surely hope I do no injustice to a related religion with an even larger number of believers: I allude to Buddhism. Both are to be reckoned among the nihilistic religions–they are both decadence religions–but they are separated from each other in a very remarkable way. For the fact that he is able to compare them ...

  • Nishitani

    My life as a young man can be described in a single phrase: it was a period absolutely without hope… My life at the time lay entirely in the grips of nihility and despair… My decision, then, to study philosophy was in fact – melodramatic as it might sound – a matter of life and ...

  • Note #24719462

    They are all children of God, loved and created by the same heart of God… Where is my faith? Even deep down… there is nothing but emptiness and darkness… If there be God — please forgive me… Such deep longing for God… Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal… What do I labor for? ...

  • Nothing from Nothing Ever Yet was Born

    When we hear the old bells ringing out on a Sunday morning, we ask ourselves: can it be possible? This is for a Jew, crucified two thousand years ago, who said he was the son of God. The proof for such a claim is wanting.

  • On Mythology

    Campbell’s concept of monomyth (one myth) refers to the theory that sees all mythic narratives as variations of a single great story. The theory is based on the observation that a common pattern exists beneath the narrative elements of most great myths, regardless of their origin or time of creation.

  • On the Preachers of Death

    There are preachers of death; and the earth is full of those to whom one must preach renunciation of life. The earth is full of the superfluous; life is spoiled by the all-too-many. May they be lured from this life with the “eternal life”! Yellow the preachers of death wear, or black. But I want ...

  • Open Letter to Kansas School Board

    I am writing you with much concern after having read of your hearing to decide whether the alternative theory of Intelligent Design should be taught along with the theory of Evolution. I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory ...

  • Past Tense

    A compendium of quotes from various authors with some of my own ideas interspersed throughout.

  • Perennial Mysticism

    Amidst all of the teachings of the world, this Dharma is to be practiced, and nothing is to be believed. Such also is the Way of Christ, where the Way is to be practiced, for the practice of the Way is indeed Faith and Faith the practice of the Way, and nothing is to be ...

  • Philosophy Primary Sources

    Some primary sources from the history of philosophy. This was the first of two posts that inspired what is now the Bookshelf.

  • Philosophy Primary Sources II

    This post will serve as Part II of Philosophy Primary Sources and a supplement to Primary Sources & Encyclopedias (check out the Links section for even more research sources). There are certain books that are essential to an education about the human condition of which I believe should be available for free and with easy access ...

  • Pragmatism & Postmodernism

    What is it for something to be true? One might think that the answer is obvious. A true belief gets reality right: our words correspond to objects and relations in the world. But making sense of that idea involves one in ever more difficult workarounds to intractable problems.

  • Primary Sources & Encyclopedias

    Links for research purposes

  • Reality and the Imagination

    In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Yuval Noah Harari about meditation, the need for stories, the power of technology to erase the boundary between fact and fiction, wealth inequality, the problem of finding meaning in a world without work, religion as a virtual reality game, the difference between pain ...

  • Reason & Faith

    In a recent post I had asked myself if my approach to and conclusions about Truth and God, in both my thoughts and in some of my older writings, were completely backwards. Did I begin and end in the wrong place? Was my thought process illogical? Did I even ask the right questions and use ...

  • Religion & Nothingness

    Keiji Nishitani attempts in this book to reformulate the question “What is religion?” away from attempts to amass historical evidence from a variety of traditions in order to create a universal definition of religion based on certain shared characteristics, from using an objective viewpoint to encounter religion as some type of object whose characteristics can ...

  • Religion is About Emotion Regulation, and It’s Very Good at It

    Religion is real consolation in the same way that music is real consolation. No one thinks that the pleasure of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute is ‘false pleasure’ because singing flutes don’t really exist. It doesn’t need to correspond to reality.

  • Revaluation of Natural Values

    Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and ...

  • Schopenhauer

    A key focus of Schopenhauer was his investigation of individual motivation. Before Schopenhauer, Hegel had popularized the concept of Zeitgeist, the idea that society consisted of a collective consciousness that moved in a distinct direction, dictating the actions of its members. Schopenhauer, a reader of both Kant and Hegel, criticized their logical optimism and the belief that individual ...

  • Self-Transcendence

    Buddhism begins with a man. In his later years, when India was afire with his message and kings themselves were bowing before him, people came to him even as they were to come to Jesus asking what he was. How many people have provoked this question – not “Who are you?” with respect to name, ...

  • Seven Types of Atheism

    For a generation now, public debate has been corroded by a shrill, narrow derision of religion in the name of an often vaguely understood “science.” John Gray’s stimulating and enjoyable new book, Seven Types of Atheism, describes the complex, dynamic world of older atheisms, a tradition that is, he writes, in many ways intertwined with and ...

  • Silence

    As nihilism encroaches upon the West and the death of God is both celebrated and denied, Silence offers a unique and insightful perspective on religion and the faithful.

  • The Crowd is Untruth

    And to honour every man, absolutely every man, is the truth, and this is what it is to fear God and love one’s “neighbour.” But from an ethico-religious point of view, to recognize the “crowd” as the court of last resort is to deny God, and it cannot exactly mean to love the “neighbour.” And ...

  • The Dynamics of Faith

    Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned. The content matters infinitely for the life of the believer, but it does not matter for the formal definition of faith. And this is the first step we have to make in order to understand the dynamics of faith.

  • The Everlasting Gospel

    The Vision of Christ that thou dost see

    Is my Vision’s Greatest Enemy.

    Thine has a great hook nose like thine;

    Mine has a snub nose like to mine.

  • The Four Horsemen

    This little chat, a casual yet intellectually stimulating discussion between four brilliant minds was so excellent that I felt the need to share it. Many topics are discussed spanning science, religion, psychology and sociology. The way they interact with each other with sincerity, empathy and humility and a sense of fellowship is hard to come ...

  • The Grand Inquisitor

    Christ revisits earth, coming to Spain at the period of the Inquisition, and is at once arrested as a heretic by the Grand Inquisitor. One of the three brothers of the story, Ivan, a rank materialist and an atheist of the new school, is supposed to throw this conception into the form of a poem, ...

  • The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth

    Say nothing of my religion. It is known to my God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life; if that has been honest and dutiful to society, the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one.

  • The Kyoto School’s Takeover of Hegel

    Suares’s first book-length publication on philosophy fills a conspicuous lacuna of scholarship on the complex relationship between Hegel and the philosophers of the Kyoto School. The uptake of Hegel’s thought in Japan has been addressed by scholars in articles, book chapters, or in passing within the context of other subjects; but given the pervasive influence ...

  • The Meaning of Ascetic Ideals

    You understand me already: this ascetic priest, this apparent enemy of life, this denier—he actually belongs to the really great conservative and affirmative forces of life.

  • The Meaning to Life? A Darwinian Existentialist has his Answers

    A century after Darwin, Jean-Paul Sartre said that we are condemned to freedom, and I think he is right. Even if God does exist, He or She is irrelevant. The choices are ours.

  • The Parable of the Arrow

    The Buddha was sitting in the park when his disciple Malunkyaputta approached him. Malunkyaputta had recently retired from the world and he was concerned that so many things remained unexplained by the Buddha. Was the world eternal or not eternal? Was the soul different from the body? Did the enlightened exist after death or not? ...

  • The Problem of Atheism

    A crisis is taking place in the contemporary world in a variety of forms, cutting across the realms of culture, ethics, politics, and so forth. At the ground of these problems is that fact that the essence of being human has turned into a question mark for humanity itself. This means that a crisis has ...

  • The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories

    The Bible is a series of books written, edited and assembled over thousands of years. It contains the most influential stories of mankind. Knowledge of those stories is essential to a deep understanding of Western culture, which is in turn vital to proper psychological health (as human beings are cultural animals) and societal stability. These ...

  • The Self-Overcoming of Nihilism

    The summaries of the relation to nihilism of Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Feuerbach, and Stirner, a nearly forgotten figure in intellectual history, are all perspicacious. Even the chapters on Nietzsche, about whom volumes are written these days, provide new insights. The brief section on the problem of nihilism for Japan is unprecedented in the English literature, ...

  • The Sunset Limited

    Black feels that he can persuade White from committing suicide. With Black stopping White right before he was about to kill himself, Black feels that this is destiny.

  • The Teaching of Buddha

    The Teaching of Buddha is a collection of writings on the essence of Buddhism, selected and edited from the vast Buddhist canon, presented in a concise, easy-to-read, and nonsectarian format. It also includes a brief history of Buddhism, a listing of the source texts, a glossary of Sanskrit terms, and an index.

  • The Urban Vote is In

    From Urban Dictionary:

    God 19684 up, 7639 down – A guy who talked to some Jewish guys, some Christian guys, and some Islam guys, and accidentally caused more people to die than anyone else in human history.

    “And people wonder why he doesn’t talk much to us anymore.”

  • The Varieties of Religious Experience

    The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature is a book by Harvard University psychologist and philosopher William James (1842 – 1910). James was an American philosopher and psychologist, and the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States.

  • There is Nothing New Under the Sun

    The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What do people gain from all the toil at which they toil under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains for ever. The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hurries ...

  • What Einstein Meant by ‘God Does Not Play Dice’

    ‘The theory produces a good deal but hardly brings us closer to the secret of the Old One,’ wrote Albert Einstein in December 1926. ‘I am at all events convinced that He does not play dice.’

    Einstein was responding to a letter from the German physicist Max Born. The heart of the new theory of quantum ...

  • What is Christianity?

    The problems with interpreting the scriptures too literally are exemplified. Anybody that seriously calls herself a Christian should examine the things discussed here. Sapere aude!

  • What is the Life of Meaning?

    Depending upon whom one asks, the question, “What is the meaning of life?” may be one of the most profound questions of human existence or nothing more than a nonsensical request built on conceptual confusion, much like, “What does the color red taste like?” Ask a non-philosopher, “What do philosophers discuss?” and a likely answer ...

  • Why Atheists are Not as Rational as Some Like to Think

    Clearly, the idea that being atheist is down to rationality alone is starting to look distinctly irrational. But the good news for all concerned is that rationality is overrated.

  • Why Our Declining Biblical Literacy Matters

    Biblical literacy is likely lower in Australia today than at any point since the convict era. General levels of familiarity with the Christian scriptures are difficult to plot precisely, but studies of Bible reading habits, and data on various forms of Christian socialisation, indicate a significant decline in Australians’ exposure to the Bible over the ...

  • Why Religion is not Going Away and Science will not Destroy It

    In brief, global secularisation is not inevitable and, when it does happen, it is not caused by science. Further, when the attempt is made to use science to advance secularism, the results can damage science.

  • Why the Demoniac Stayed in his Comfortable Corner of Hell

    I am not what one might call a religious man. I went to church, and then to confirmation class, under duress. My mother, whom I secretly regarded as more powerful than God, insisted that I go. So I went. Her insistence, however, had the unintended consequence of introducing me to a pastor whom I came ...

  • Zen & The Art of Postmodern Philosophy

    Nietzsche views Buddhism as a passive kind of nihilism, a sign of weakness. Contrary to Nietzsche’s opinion of Buddhism, the historical Buddha wanted to “steer clear of notions of permanent existence and nihilistic nonexistence.” Within the context of the historically later Mahayana Buddhist philosophy, classical Madhyamika thinkers, for instance, emphatically rejected a nihilistic interpretation of ...