Raphael wrote:I don't remember hearing this either. Buddhism wasn't known in the West at that point , but he mentions the "Hindoos" in his letter of the Vale of Soul Making. I used to be quite into Buddhism and there is nothing in John's letters that indicates to me he had a Buddhist sensibility- his sensibility is far more of a nature spirituality/pagan.
I say the following not disparagingly of John- but he was far too intense to have a Buddhist sensibility- Buddhist texts write about letting go of desires and strong emotions.
Woopdee doo I can get through at last- I wonder for how long this time!
Glad you've been able to get back on line, Raphael!
When I first read the letters, I detected a hint of Buddhism -- especially in that famous "Vale of Soulmaking" section. Suffering and other life experiences contribute to the making of a soul/identity. This is, IMO, very Buddhist. He also talked about being open to the experiences life offers, "capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason." How is this *not* Buddhist?
Rejoicing in nature is easily part of both traditions. True, it wasn't until later in the 19th century that Buddhism became at all well-known in the West. (This was largely due to my beloved New England Transcendentalists! ) But there is, I believe, profound, immanent wisdom/knowledge that is accessible to us if we are open to it. That wisdom/knowledge has always been there and always will be -- a person, particularly one who was such a genius as Keats, doesn't necessarily need formal instruction to access that wisdom.
Certainly Buddhism was known in the West when Keats was alive, as Schopenhauer notes in his "The World as Will and Representation". However, Schopenhauer writes: "up till 1818...there were to be found in Europe only a very few accounts of Buddhism, and those extremely incomplete and inadequate, confined almost entirely to a few essays in the earlier volumes of the Asiatic Researches". (Volume II, page 169. Dover 1966) Schopenhauer's recognised masterpiece first appeared in 1819 but was revised and elaborated upon in 1844.
I think his problem is that he can't get beyond his sheer hatred of Christianity.
All that we can be aware of simply contradicts the Christian faith. And by extension all other belief systems are ludicrous as, along with Christianity, there is no proof whatsoever for their authenticity. All that pleasure we revel in when we apprehend the natural world in all its apparent glory is underpinned by suffering. Turn over almost any stone in your garden, local park, etc, and you're bound by natural laws, nature in all its wonder, to witness so-called lower forms of life tearing themselves to pieces.
All that we are, and can ever be, is governed by interestedness. Christianity, socialism and the like all look good on paper, but they can never be implemented successfully in practice. I've yet to meet a Christian or believer in any faith who truly practises what he/she preaches. And if this sounds like a rant then I apologise genuinely for any hurt feelings - but I can't withdraw my remarks. I accept I've gone a little off topic though.
John's Vale of Soul Making, brilliant though it is isn't Buddhist-Buddhism teaches that there is no soul. The Vale of Soul Making is all his own. Buddhism is concerned with allieviating suffering, teaching that most suffering is a result of lack of Enlightenment and how one percieves things. (I am not in full agreement of all of this by the way). The New Age movement has taken on board the idea of Enlightnement and the Buddhist teaching that one needs to become enlightened ( i.e become a Buddha) which ensures that one is not reborn again into the physical world- which they call the Wheel of Samsara. The New Age movement differs in that they see suffering is necessary to learn and become enlightened. Buddhism doesn't teach that- that suffering makes one enlightnened in itself, but if one examines the suffering that one can let it go.
John's Negative Capability, again is brilliant but not really Buddhist. But I really think he was onto something amazing- that some things cannot be known.His use of the word Mystery is actually more shamanic.
I am not of the opinion that suffering is necessary for wisdom. I also do not ascribe to the New Age idea that in each incarnation we choose our life and how we are going to suffer and die. Just as if John would have chosen for his parents to die like that, Tom and himself to contract tuberculosis!
I don't think he was joking either- he was quite open in his admiration of the Greek paganism and his liking for Apollo. Paganism and Buddhism have some things in common, but have many differences too- Buddhism is more of a philosphy and does not have dieties ( except Tibetan Buddhism) but paganism is polytheistic.
In early Buddhism there are poems and writings about nature and spirits of nature but that has not come into modern Buddhism in the West. There is a different focus on Nature in pagan traditions- some like Druidism seek to form relationship with Nature, animals and the forces of nature, seeing all the myraids of life and energies as sacred. I totally agree what you wrote above about John- a natural genius and deeply spirtual person as he was- he didn't need formal teaching.
Wow - I didn't realize my simple comment about "Buddhism" from the DVD "Bright Star" extras would lead to such intricate speculations on theology, geology, mysticism, paganism etc.... I have enjoyed the read however. I appreciate [banned member]' reflections on Keats and Buddhism and Schopenahauer etc... but I would kindly disagree on a number of points. There is a whole level of complexity when it comes to religion, history, language, hermeneutics, philosophy and science.
I was just wondering if anyone actually listened to Jane Campion's comments at the end of the DVD for Bright Star and what is it that she said about Keats and Buddhism. It seems like it was a personal reflection on her own youth with a random comment about Keats's concerns and her Buddhist explorations perhaps. I just wanted to know what you understood Campion to mean.
(But I didn't mind the thoughtful comments).
Wow -- what a lot to respond to! (And I'm certain I messed up quoting only parts of your post!)
Rather than respond to specifics, I think what I meant to express was my understanding of Keats's idea that suffering led to a maturation of the "soul," not neccesarily a literal belief in a soul. This maturation is a way of *becoming*, a constant growth, a process -- not a belief in something that more closely resembles western religious dogma than it resembles philosophy.
I kind of understood that by accepting the inevitable suffering that comes with being human, we also learn to let it go, that's it's just part of the whole.
What did our guy say? "I can scarcely describe what I but dimly perceive . . ."
Yup, I'm there! LOL! Alas, I'm not nearly so eloquent or articulate as he was.
]And oh my gosh! There certainly are shamanic elements, especially in the more mature works, like the odes and the two Hyperions.
(A short digression: A shaman friend told me that I must always pay attention when it seems like an animal or animal spirit seems to be "speaking" to me -- either in a physical encounter or a dream. At the time, I thought this an odd thing. I told her I didn't believe in such things. She said that my beliefs didn't matter in this case. It only mattered that I take her advice. Needless to say, I found this odd, too. But I did as told and found wisdom where I never expected to find it.)
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest