Embracing Divinity


Existentialism And Mysticism continued
Jan. ’78

A “movement away from ego” was held in common by both Nishitani and
the Existentialists. Whatever else mysticism was about, it certainly
was about integrating the self—with something more meaningful
and larger than “I,” “me,” or “mine.” The more one’s gaze was
directed inward, the more one found himself/herself farther a field,
more connected, and ironically, less substantial. Connectivity and the
concept of nothingness were mysteriously tied to one another in the
mystical tradition.

Kierkegaard and Heidegger both demonstrated a major backing
away from ego in their respective philosophies, but any
comparison between Heidegger and Kierkegaard dead-ends with the
appearance of God. The all knowing, infinite, and “means to salvation”
God of Kierkegaard was never encountered by Heidegger. Even so, both
men traversed a lot of the same territory. Although Heidegger would
never have called Being-in-the-world, God, Being-in-the-world did have
a spiritual side to it, albeit a pantheistic one. More importantly,
for Heidegger (as well as Kierkegaard), cutting through the dross of
life required a sensitivity to nothingness that was inversely
proportional to one’s self-concept; or, in other words, one’s deepest
subjectivity spiraled away from ego into a nothingness where at
bottom, Kierkegaard found what he called “nothingness before God,” and
Heidegger found what he called “Being-in-the world.”

For both men becoming aware of the veiled human condition was the
problem. Finding a solution to the problem required, for Kierkegaard,
working through a kind of dialectic of despair, and then committing to
a relationship with the eternal. For Heidegger, becoming aware of
death’s significance, and then becoming authentic was the sought after
goal. Progress, for both men, meant finding day-to-day existence
unacceptable. Developing a relationship with the Absolute, for
Kierkegaard, and being called back to the facticity of the totality of
the relational involvement of Dasein, for Heidegger, required that one
be dissatisfied with day to day living until a more meaningful
relationship with `being” could be found.

For Kierkegaard, no amount of objective information could satisfy his
thirst. The solution to the problem of understanding oneself in
existence, if a solution could be found at all, had to come from the
inner reaches of ones own subjectivity. “I contemplate the order of
nature in hope of finding God, and I see omnipotence and wisdom,” he
said, “but I also see much else that disturbs my mind and excites
anxiety.” What he saw was that the whole of the world’s wisdom did not
substitute for the inward passion used to embrace divinity. In fact,
nothing objective could be said about that kind of truth.
The existing thinker’s problem was a subjective problem. Everything else,
according to Kierkegaard, was just so much “objective uncertainty.”


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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2 Responses to Embracing Divinity

  1. ElizOF says:

    Still catching up… kids in town from fall college break. 🙂

  2. bwinwnbwi says:

    “The solution to the problem of understanding oneself in existence, if a solution could be found at all, had to come from the inner reaches of ones own subjectivity.” Quote from above

    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” was/is the end goal.

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