Dr. Folkart’s Mysticism Class
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.