Existentialism And Mysticism-Shake, Don’t Stir







Dr. Folkart’s Mysticism Class
Jan. ’78

My Mysticism class was not your typical class, but it sure was a lot of fun. Before starting the class, I already had an appreciation for the
mystical traditions. The best part of the class, for me at least,
came when Dr. Folkart asked me if I would read and report back to him on a book that he had not read. The author, Keiji Nishitani, a
Japanese Philosophy Professor, had studied under Martin Heidegger. My professor knew I had studied Existentialism, and he wanted some input on that part of the book. After I wrote my report on the book entitled Religion and Nothingness, I wrote a summery to make it easier to understand. That summary should be helpful here also:

The Cartesian division of reality into an immaterial, invisible
consciousness and the material world is not the
whole story. In fact, basically, that’s just plain wrong—both
mysticism and existentialism move beyond this limitation.
For instance, Kierkegaard tells us that movement inward is
movement forward, and, if pushed far enough, this movement results in  an intense religious experience. The short story here is that an inverse relationship exists between a person’s outward ego and the gap that separates a person from God. In other words, big ego-big gap, little ego-gap closes. For Kierkegaard, “one’s nothingness before God” is the end goal.

A similar thing is going on in the thought of Heidegger. Dasein,
in thrownness, begins in nullity and ends with authentic being.
This is ditto for Nietzsche. His nihilism is not an attack on
differences per-se, rather it is the “eternal recurrence” of the
destruction of everything, hence the affirmation of everything.
In the philosophy of Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Nietzsche,
one discovers the theme of liberation. That
theme is not so obvious in Sartre. His path to deeper subjectivity
takes us no further than the freely chosen act. His cogito is so shut
up within itself that it can never escape from its own nothingness.
Sartre’s philosophy is a dead end, or so says Nishitani, who then goes
on to describe a much more powerful liberation theme.


About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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12 Responses to Existentialism And Mysticism-Shake, Don’t Stir

  1. Ron Krumpos says:

    I wrote my master’s thesis on Vedanta and Existentialism, comparing Kirkegaard and Sartre with Sri Aurobindo and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. Since then I’ve studied the mystical traditions of the five major faiths and found they had much in common.

  2. Ron Krumpos says:

    My master’s was a long time ago. At age 70 I wrote “the greatest achievement in life,” an ebook on comparative mysticism. In my career I had met many true mystics (and many charlatans) in Asia, Europe and North America, but didn’t have time to write about it until after retirement. I hope you have time to read it (it is only 104 pages and it is free).

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      With a little luck (I have to find the book) I think I will have time to read your book (I look forward to it). My next nine posts, the last of which ends my Mysticism class, are–as of this morning–in the bank. When I retired about a year ago I started my bwinwnbwimusic blog (a blog about my travels and ideas). It is lucky (at least for me) that you happened upon my blog at the same time that I’m posting what I see as a connection between Asian philosophy/mysticism and European Existentialism. I think that coincidence is extremely interesting! Thanks for the comments and take care.

  3. Ron Krumpos says:

    Look at my profile at peacenext.org/profile/RonKrumpos and click on my website. As the ebook loads your screen will be filled with cover photo the Orion nebula (thanks to NASA). That is only fitting since it was a Nobel astrophysicist who introduced me to mysticism when we privately met at the University of Chicago’s Yerkes Observatory in 1959.

    Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar was an atheist who once wrote “God is man’s greatest invention.” You do not have to be religious to be a mystic (although most of them were).

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      I just finished your remarkable e-book on mystical approaches to life—The Greatest Achievement in Life. A page turner for sure; I loved the way your table of contents approached this difficult subject. I have never read a better book on mysticism! As you can probably tell, I too have some experience with some of the mystical traditions you cite in your book—naive experience at best. For about ten years (between my 25th and 35th birthdays) I explored, experiential and through the written word, a mystical approach to life; after that family took priority as life changed for me. The one thing that I did take away from that experience, however, the one thing that still allows me to occasionally escape from the “me, mine, and I of ego” is mantra. Thank Sunyata for that!
      Thanks so much for writing such an excellent book and turning it into a free read for all who are searching for a more meaningful and fulfilling life! Take care. Oh, by the way, that photo of the Orion nebula is absolutely gorgeous.

  4. Ron Krumpos says:

    bwinwnbwi, thanks for your kind comments on my ebook. I wish you were posting on mysticism blogs…another person’s recommendation is more meaningful than my own.

    I have read some of your earlier – and later – postings on Existentialism. You certainly have excellent insights into this topic. Ontology can be boring when discussed by philosophers, but comes alive with existentialists and mystics (although they seldom agree on it).

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      Yes, being a janitor at a university for 35 years and following many philosophical discussions;– even those that take place in conferences that accept papers on topical philosophical subjects, I totally understand that disagreements are what keeps publishing exciting–publish or perish is what makes an academic an academic–it is not what makes a mystic a mystic! Thanks for the kind words!

  5. Ron Krumpos says:

    Would you consider writing a review of my ebook? There have been only two so far:http://mingkok.buddhistdoor.com/en/news/d/18718 and http://curtischappell.com/blog/archives/3125 Another would be welcome.

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      After a day of thinking about it (my first reaction was that I’m not equipped for the task), I would be very happy to write a review of your ebook. After checking out the other reviews, I’m assuming that my review would take the form of another postaday post on my blog (if you want me to post it somewhere else let me know). I’m currently in the middle of putting together a number of posts ( posts suggested by my understanding of how physical events and structure–logic–are intertwined. These posts (two weeks of posts), in my opinion, suggest a reality that has been described my some mystics as Divine Reality, or the reality of the eternal now. As one of the reviewers of your ebook wrote:

      [“Spirituality, unlike the occult spiritualism, is sometimes defined as an “attempt to grow in sensitivity to self, to others, to non-human creation, and to God who is both within and beyond this totality.” In practice, spirituality will often “cultivate tranquility, mindfulness and insight, leading to virtues of wisdom and compassion.” ]

      If you have no objection, I will post my review of your ebook after I have posted my discussion of how our micro and macro universe (and our understanding of same) can be conceived of as Divine Reality–or the reality of the eternal now. Thanks for your support and for your confidence in my ability to review your ebook. Take care.

  6. Ron Krumpos says:

    bwinwnbwl, I appreciate your willingness to write a review. Your own discussions are thoughtful, well written and concisely stated. I look forward to reading your next two weeks’ posts on reality.

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      Thanks, I appreciate all your comments. After a more critical look at my reality posts, I count 20 give or take a few. To date, that will be my most concentrated effort on that subject. After those posts, I will post my review on The Greatest Achievement in Life–your remarkable e-book, and, after that I will go back to posting (finishing up) my Northwest bicycle trip. Take care and thanks again.

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