Buddhism in Nietzche’s Works
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Nietzsche, Buddhism, zen, emptiness, sunyata, Nothingness, Dhammapada

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Strelkova, A. (2019). Buddhism in Nietzche’s Works. Multiversum. Philosophical Almanac, (1-2), 82-95. https://doi.org/10.35423/2078-8142.2019.1-2.04


This article represents a study of F. Nietzsche’s reception of Buddhism. His works are analyzed from the standpoint of the «philosophy of emptiness». Buddhism is mentioned in majority of his works, but these mentions are of ambiguous and contradictory character caused by the lack in the Buddhist studies of the 2nd half of 19th century of an adequate interpretation of the basic concept of Buddhist thought – «emptiness» (sunyata). On the example of several parallels it is demonstrated that there is considerable closeness between the Nietzsche’s ideas and Buddhism and a suggestion is made concerning the Nietzsche’s acquaintance with Dhammapada. In Nietzsche's works, starting with a certain period, the first references to Buddhism appear and disappear from the pages of his books and notebooks. Nietzsche is also aware of some Buddhist terms, such as, for example, nirvana, and thus, in fact, the reference to Buddhist thinking is much greater. But it proves that not only the letter but also the "spirit" of Nietzsche is important, because his "So Zarathustra said" is imbued with ideas that are very close to Buddhist philosophy, despite the fact that, unlike many other works, explicitly Buddhism does not exist at all never mentioned. True cognition (enlightenment or nirvana) is the primary purpose for both Buddhists and F. Nietzsche. Particularly striking are the parallels with Zen Buddhism: the absence of a final goal in Zen and constant self-improvement in Nietzsche, the possibility of achieving the highest goal (enlightenment), without going beyond the ordinary phenomenal world, emphasis on practice, rejection of authority, principle of non-commitment, and principle of non-commitment. as the necessary conditions for true knowledge and being human in the world, etc. The analysis presented in this article allows to assert that Nietzsche had intuitionally predicted the future discoveries of academic Buddhology and his understanding of Buddhism resulted much more adequate to the inner essence of Buddhism (philosophy of emptiness) than the prevailing in that historical period «cult of Nothingness».

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