GnoTruth just appeared on Wikipedia’s Nihilism page.
How do I know? Because I pay attention. This is called the practice of Mindfulness of Internet Referrals.
Someone involved us in this show of clinging-to-the-words (but, hey! It is our fault for stringing words together into concepts and sharing them on the internet).
In Buddhism, the concept of the emptiness of conceptual structures bears some resemblance to nihilism. This was notably highlighted by Friedrich Nietzsche, though Buddhist scholars recently reported that this is could be due to inadequate translation at the time .
Are we going all in?
I see a lil’ baby typo 🙂 — born of the person’s hesitance to state whether we offer a suggestion or an assertion. But, Wikipedia is a shit storm. Feels too vibey.
While we’re here on the Wikipedia topic, I might as well say that I once wrote an article on Evangelical Environmentalism. That was fun. Some PR guy from some big Evangelical Environmental church contacted me. He just wanted to feel me out, see who I was and why I would write something like that… or something. We talked, it was fun, it went nowhere.
But, do I want to engage in that kind of activity? Encyclopedia making? Nah. Not at all.
So, back to the thing…
Yes. Translation produces error. Older translations will be worse.
Seems that the first English translation of some Buddhist text is “the Catechism of the Shamans“, which was translated in 1831 by Henry Steel Olcott. And, just look at the title. It sounds strange. Who are the shamans and wtf? 😉 Maybe there is some older translation of a Buddhist text to English? If you know of it, please tell me.
Yeah, then we got Max Muller to translate the Dhammapada in 1880. Nietzsche was born in 1844 and died in 1900! All of this “Buddhism” was totally new. And, I’ve been talking about English translations.. Nietzsche spoke German.
Buddhism in Germany
Back to Wikipedia:
Buddhism in Germany looks back to a history of over 150 years. Arthur Schopenhauer was one of the earliest Germans who were influenced by Buddhism. Schopenhauer got his knowledge of Buddhism from authors like Isaac Jacob Schmidt (1779-1847). German Buddhists or Orientalists like Karl Eugen Neumann, Paul Dahlke, Georg Grimm, Friedrich Zimmermann (Subhadra Bhikschu) and the first German Buddhist monk Nyanatiloka were also influenced by Schopenhauer and his understanding of Buddhism. But also German Indologists like Hermann Oldenberg and his work ”Buddha, sein Leben, seine Lehre, seine Gemeinde“ had an important influence on German Buddhism.
In 1888 Subhadra Bickshu (Friedrich Zimmermann) published the first edition of the “Buddhistischer Katechismus”, a work based on the “Buddhist Catechism” of Henry Steel Olcott.
In 1903 the first German Buddhist organisation was founded by the Indologist Karl Seidenstücker in Leipzig. In 1904 Florus Anton Gueth became the Theravada monk Nyanatiloka Mahathera. Some important Pali texts were translated into German in the early part of the 20th century by scholars like Karl Eugen Neumann (1865-1915), Nyantiloka and others.
We meet the Catechism of the Shamans again, it was in German by 1888. The first Buddhist organisation wasn’t even founded until a few years after Nietzsche had died! He could not have had a living experience of the Dharma– and therefore, had a false notion of the Buddha’s teaching. The Buddha’s teaching is not about notion. Thich Nhat Hanh will teach you. He is a great teacher for us people of the West.
Like the list of people at the top of the selection, Nietzsche was probably greatly influenced by Schopenhauer… and if you know even a little about Schopenhauer, you know that his influence is necessarily depressing– if Nietzsche took cues from Schopenhauer on Buddhism, even subconsciously, he would have had an inaccurate understanding of the Buddha’s Teaching. All understandings of the Buddha’s teaching are ultimately inaccurate! That is why actual practice is always necessary. Buddhism is not a long and dreary process of intellectualizing shit. It is the living practice of waking up, coming home, resting in infinite light.
Did Nietzsche have a whack view of basic Buddhism because he was working from old translations? Yeah. Although, the problem with translation is bigger than words.
The problem is cultural, too. I guess we could call it a collective consciousness problem.
As Nietzsche often complained, European academics were deluded by Christian notions. God had “died” and no one had really noticed (people still have trouble noticing, and, in fact– God seems to be alive and healthy with fundamentalism on the rise everywhere!).
With one foot in a world without the need for revelation, and the other firmly placed in the land of “revealed” truth; the European / Western Mind needs time to become familiar with that which has not yet arisen in our hearts. We are still nursing this baad hangover from the Dark Ages of Christian domination.