Meandering vs Commitment

If this blog has a central theme, it is that of inquiring into Meandering vs Commitment.

A good many schools of thought extol the virtues of commitment. Especially in existentialist philosophy and in approaches to personal development spawned by that. For example, Martin Heidegger held up the ideal of the resolute life, in which a person creates the meaning of their own life by freely choosing its central purpose and mission, which is then to be followed resolutely, in the face of whatever challenges and tribulations may come.

But at the same time, there are schools of thought that extol being-in-the-moment. For example, a text of Buddhism says:

"The Buddha's monks do repent the past, nor do they brood over the future. Hence they are radiant."

And indeed they are often strikingly radiant and have a zest for the present moment, however mundane and routine that moment might seem to most people.

At the same time, they are in another way living a very committed kind of life. Some kinds of Buddhist monk take a vow to save all sentient beings! Which is the very example of the existentialist conception of a resolute life.

It's been said that the opposite of a great truth is also a great truth.

These issues play out on many levels.

For example, in the development field, there is a great debate between those who believe in creating a grand strategy for ending poverty on the planet, and those who distrust grand visions and believe in being pragmatic, and simply doing here and now what they see can really be done, and has a likelihood of working.

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2 Responses to Meandering vs Commitment

  1. Vasco Pyjama says:

    Meandering versus commitment. Hmmm… As you know, I am Buddhist. Not a very good one. A friend noted how I go wayward so often that perhaps I should refer to myself as ‘a student of Buddhism’ rather than a Buddhist.

    To me, the whole being-in-the-moment thing is about being able to appreciate the here and the now, rather than ‘live for tomorrow’.

    Here’s a gem for you:

    All you who seek the Way, please, do not waste this moment now. –Zen

  2. I’m not sure you have Martin Heidegger’s thought there. His concept of resoluteness (entschlosenheit) is not the same as the colloquial use of the term, but a technical term. What one is resolute about in resoluteness is in fact “the Open” (die lichtung). John Caputo does a very good job in showing that rather than being opposed to the orientalist and mystical philosophies, there is a huge amount of structural similarity between Heidegger and mysticism/negative theology. I recommend his two volumes on the subject, one of which compares his writings to Aquinas (ISBN: 0823210987) and the other to Meister Eckhart and Silesius (ISBN: 0823211533). In addition it appears that Heidegger had a particularly good understanding of Buddhism and frequently corresponded with Japanese Buddhists about philosophical matters. Buddhism and existenzphilosophie are indeed closer than you might imagine. If you have time or inclination to research the matter further I recommend browing some of the material produced by the Society for Existential Analysis.

    In friendship, w/s

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