Salvation through Suffering

By the expression asceticism, which I have already used so often, I understand in the narrower sense this deliberate breaking of the will by refusing the agreeable and looking for the disagreeable, the voluntarily chosen way of life of penance and self-chastisement, for the constant mortification of the will.

Now, if we see this practised by persons who have already attained to denial of the will, in order that they may keep to it, then suffering in general, as it is inflicted by fate, is also a second way of attaining to that denial.

Indeed, we may assume that most men can reach it only in this way, and that it is the suffering personally felt, not the suffering merely known, which most frequently produces complete resignation, often only at the approach of death. For only in the case of a few is mere knowledge sufficient to bring about the denial of the will, the knowledge namely that sees through the principium individuationis, first producing perfect goodness of disposition and universal love of mankind, and finally enabling them to recognize as their own all the sufferings of the world.

Since all suffering is a mortification and a call to resignation, it has potentially a sanctifying force.

We always picture a very noble character to ourselves as having a certain trace of silent sadness that is anything but constant peevishness over daily annoyances [...] It is a consciousness that has resulted from knowledge of the vanity of all possessions and the suffering of all life, not merely one's own.

Such knowledge, however, may first of all be awakened by suffering personally experienced, especially by a single great suffering, just as a single wish incapable of fulfilment brought Petrarch to that resigned sadness concerning the whole of life which appeals to us so pathetically in his works; for the Daphne he pursued had to vanish from his hands, in order to leave behind for him the immortal laurel instead of herself.

If the will is to a certain extent broken by such a great and irrevocable denial of fate, then practically nothing more is desired, and the character shows itself as mild, sad, noble, and resigned.

We cannot help but regard every suffering, both those felt by ourselves and those felt by others, as at least a possible advance towards virtue and holiness, and pleasures and worldly satisfactions, on the other hand, as a departure therefrom.

This goes so far that every man who undergoes great bodily or mental suffering, indeed everyone who performs a physical labour demanding the greatest exertion in the sweat of his brow and with evident exhaustion, yet does all this with patience and without grumbling, appears, when we consider him with close attention, somewhat like a sick man who applies a painful cure.

Willingly, and even with satisfaction, he endures the pain caused by the cure, since he knows that the more he suffers, the more is the substance of the disease destroyed; and thus the present pain is the measure of his cure.

[Arthur Schopenhauer]
The World as Will and Representation, p.392, 395-7


If we began with Saturn, we would be far more reconciled with our givens, including everything that doesn't work and is imagined to be a trauma, a curse and bad luck, and we would be far less impatient about our growth.

As I've grown older, I've come to realise that the curses, the frustrations, and the character faults visited on me by Saturn mean something completely different than what I thought when I was younger. I took them literally as curses, and I cursed my stars for not giving me what I believed I needed and wanted. That is, I cursed Saturn, to use the old language.

But it isn't Saturn who curses us; we curse him. We make him into that poor, shunned, limping old God because we don't understand his mode of blessing. What a curse it must be to keep giving gifts that are received as punishments!

The faults and frustrations he visits on us are his way of keeping us true to our particular image. No way out. The old lore attributed the last years of life to Saturn. That makes sense. Only now can I begin to reconcile myself with and not rebel against what I am and what I am not.

[James Hillman]
with Michael Ventura
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse


Adulthood, one could say, is when it begins to occur to you that you may not be leading a charmed life.

[Adam Phillips]
On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored, p.82


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Ideas and Concepts

The Idea is the unity that has fallen into plurality by virtue of the temporal and spatial form of our intuitive apprehension. The concept, on the other hand, is the unity once more produced out of plurality by means of abstraction through our faculty of reason; the latter can be described as unitas post rem, and the former as unitas ante rem.

Finally we can express the distinction between concept and Idea figuratively, by saying that the concept is like a dead receptacle in which whatever has been put actually lies side by side, but from which no more can be taken out (by analytical judgements) than has been put in (by synthetical reflection).

The Idea, on the other hand, develops in him who has grasped it representations that are new as regards the concept of the same name; it is like a living organism, developing itself and endowed with generative force, which brings forth that which was not previously put into it.

Now it follows from all that has been said that the concept, useful as it is in life, serviceable, necessary, and productive as it is in science, is eternally barren and unproductive in art. The apprehended Idea, on the contrary, is the true and only source of every genuine work of art.

The generation, in other words the dull multitude of any time, itself knows only concepts and sticks to them; it therefore accepts mannered works with ready and loud applause. After a few years, however, these works become unpalatable, because the spirit of the times, in other words the prevailing concepts, in which alone those works could take root, has changed.

Only the genuine works that are drawn directly from nature and life remain eternally young and strong, like nature and life itself. For they belong to no age, but to mankind; and for this reason they are received with indifference by their own age to which they distained to conform; and because they indirectly and negatively exposed the errors of the age, they were recognized tardily and reluctantly.

Now, if the purpose of all art is the communication of the apprehended Idea, this Idea is then grasped by the man of weaker susceptibility and no productive capacity through the medium of the artist's mind, in which it appears isolated and purged of everything foreign; further, if starting from the concept is objectionable in art, then we shall not be able to approve, when a work of art is intentionally and avowedly chosen to express a concept; this is the case in allegory.

An allegory is a work of art signifying something different from what it depicts. But that which is perceptive, and consequently the Idea as well, expresses itself immediately and completely, and does not require the medium of another thing through which it is outlined or suggested. Therefore that which is suggested and represented in this way by something quite different is always a concept, because it cannot itself be brought before perception.

Hence through the allegory a concept is always to be signified, and consequently the mind of the beholder has to be turned aside from the depicted representation of perception to one that is quite different, abstract, and not perceptive, and lies entirely outside the work of art. Here, therefore, the picture or statue is supposed to achieve what a written work achieves far more perfectly.

[...] certainly no great perfection in the work of art is demanded for what is here intended; on the contrary, it is enough if we see what the thing is supposed to be; for as soon as this is found, the end is reached, and the mind is then led on to quite a different kind of representation, to an abstract concept which was the end in view.

If in plastic and pictorial art we are led from what is immediately given to something else, this must always be a concept, because here only the abstract cannot be immediately given. But a concept can never be the source, and its communication can never be the aim, of a work of art. On the other hand, in poetry the concept is the material, the immediately given, and we can therefore very well leave it, in order to bring about something perceptive which is entirely different, and in which the end is attained.

[Arthur Schopenhauer]
The World as Will and Representation, p.234-7, 240

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Cut To Fit

There is no such thing as an effective segment of a totality. By that I mean that I personally do not believe in the word style.

Why? Because, unless there are human beings with three arms and four legs, unless we have another group of beings on earth that are structurally different from us, there can be no different style of fighting. Why is that? Because we have two hands and two legs. Now the unfortunate thing is that there's boxing, which uses hands, and judo which uses throwing. I'm not putting them down, mind you - but because of styles, people are separated.

They are not united together because styles become law. The original founder of the style started out with a hypothesis. But now it has become the gospel truth, and people who go into that become the product of it. It doesn't matter how you are, who you are, how you are structured, how you are built, or how you are doesn't seem to matter. You just go in there and become that product. And that, to me, is not right.

So styles tend to not only separate man because they have their own doctrines, and the doctrines became the gospel internal truth, that you cannot change, you know? But if you do not have style, if you just say, "Here i am, as a human being, how can i express myself totally and completely?" - that way, you won't create a style, because style is a crystallization, as opposed to a internal process of continuing growth.

Man, he is constantly growing and when he is bound by a set pattern of ideas or way of doing things, that's when he stops growing.

[Bruce Lee]

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Walk a Straight Line

[...] although a man is always the same, he does not always understand himself, but often fails to recognize himself until he has acquired some degree of real self-knowledge.

He finds in himself the tendencies to all the various human aspirations and abilities, but the different degrees of these in his individuality do not become clear to him without experience. Now if he resorts to those pursuits that alone conform to his character, he feels, especially at particular moments and in particular moods, the impulse to the very opposite pursuits that are incompatible with them; and if he wishes to follow the former pursuits undisturbed, the latter must be entirely suppressed.

For, as our physical path on earth is always a line and not a surface, we must in life, if we wish to grasp and possess one thing, renounce and leave aside innumerable others that lie to the right and to the left.

If we cannot decide to do this, but, like children at a fair, snatch at everything that fascinates us in passing, this is the perverted attempt to change the line of our path into a surface. We then run a zigzag path, wander like a will-o'-the-wisp, and arrive at nothing.

Or, to use another comparison, according to Hobbe's doctrine of law, everyone originally has a right to everything, but an exclusive right to nothing; but he can obtain an exclusive right to individual things by renouncing his right to all the rest, while the others do the same with regard to what was chosen by him. It is precisely the same in life, where we can follow some definite pursuit, whether it be of pleasure, honour, wealth, science, art, or virtue, seriously and successfully only when we give up all claims foreign to it, and renounce everything else.

Therefore mere willing and mere ability to do are not enough of themselves, but a man must also know what he wills, and know what he can do. Only thus will he display character, and only then can he achieve anything solid. Until he reaches this, he is still without character, in spite of the natural consistency of the empirical character. Although, on the whole, he must remain true to himself and run his course drawn by his daemon, he will not describe a straight line, but a wavering and uneven one.

[...] We must first learn from experience what we will and what we can do; till then we do not know this, are without character, and must often be driven back on to our own path by hard blows from outside.

But if we have finally learnt it, we have then obtained what in the world is called character, the acquired character, which, accordingly, is nothing but the most complete possible knowledge of our own individuality. It is the abstract, and consequently distinct, knowledge of the unalterable qualities of our own empirical character, and of the measure and direction of our mental and bodily powers, and so of the whole strength and weakness of our own individuality.

This puts us in a position to carry out, deliberately and methodically, the unalterable role of our own person, and to fill up the gaps caused in it by whims or weaknesses, under the guidance of fixed concepts.

[...] In accordance with these, we carry it out as deliberately as though it were one that had been learnt, without ever being led astray by the fleeting influence of the mood or impression of the present moment, without being checked by the bitterness or sweetness of a particular thing we meet with on the way, without wavering, without hesitation, without inconsistencies.

[...] [We] will then often partake of the pleasure of feeling [our] strength, and will rarely experience the pain of being reminded of [our] weaknesses.

[...] For as the whole man is only the phenomenon of his will, nothing can be more absurd than for him, starting from reflection, to want to be something different from what he is; for this is an immediate contradiction of the will itself. Imitating the qualities of others is much more outrageous than wearing others' clothes, for it is the judgement we ourselves pronounce on our own worthlessness. Knowledge of our own mind and of our capabilities of every kind, and of their unalterable limits, is in this respect the surest way to the attainment of the greatest possible contentment with ourselves.

[Arthur Schopenhauer]
The World as Will and Representation, p.303-6


(Anonymous): I wonder if there's a Cocker backlash in the wings. There's a generation who see him as a guy who crops up to comment on stuff although he (himself) hasn't had a hit for years, so he's a kind of half-cocked national treasure (when everyone seems to be a national treasure), possibly compounded with "death-by-Guardian" a ubiquitousness meaning that you tick all the boxes for production assistants and editors, out of proportion with any public fervour.

: Celebrity and backlash are absolutely inextricable, for the reasons we were discussing the other day: as soon as you make a clear unequivocal statement (and what is a celeb if not a "cultural statement"?) doubts rush in, and the opposite begins to seem appealing.

Slebs can only avoid this by becoming reclusive, ie silent as mimes. Like the Queen, or David Bowie. (Anyone know what he thought of the death of Michael, the Iraq war, the Obama victory? Of course not; he's a mime.)

milky_eyes: ah, I think bowie avoided this by keeping or try to keep his whole 'thing' ie image, statements, music... increasingly more abstract, or postmodern...
I dont think you ever got a consistent 'straight' statement out of him... I think in his early years, he'd say stuff, but then one gets tired of always having to backtrack and apologize, etc... so one talks more and more in non-committal statements.
but geez, I'd get tired of always 'airing' 'MY" opinion of this or that.... tired pompous situation.

Conversation from Click Opera, see here.


I'm told so many things. I've had someone on the phone trying to tell me what the sixth sense is, and I said, I've got a sixth sense, its a fucking sense of humour! Everything to me is logical and practical, its in my face, its there. I can't distract from it, because the second I distract from it I do lose my way and I have to stay the way that I am, and thats why I have to be non-effected by anything that I listen to, or hear, or see.

[John Harris]
Interviewed on tnsradio


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Men of Firm Purpose

Is there a limit to man's power? Why can a man's fist break a stone which cannot be broken with an iron hammer? Strength itself is not the answer.

One day I visited Shohkakuji Temple in Nagasaki. The old priest of this temple is the one who had learned the art of Chinese Karate and Zen. This old priest showed me a part of his training practices during my visit. What I saw there was a scene almost dreadful to behold. He put some oil around his hand and thrust it with a yell, into boiling water in a big pot hung over the hearth.

As I was watching it in surprise, he slowly counted from one to ten and pulled his hand out of the boiling water quickly. "Look at my hand." He showed me his hand with a smile; it was not only not scalded but had undergone no change whatsoever. I could never forget the words he mentioned, "You can do anything if you will. Only act with self-confidence."

Man's mental power is great; his body supported by this great power is mysterious beyond solution by science. As far as there actually exists a priest who could calmly put his hand into boiling water [...] it moves our mind as a believable example of the greatness of man's mental power.

The essence of Karate, therefore, is nothing else than a training of mind over body. This is why Karate, capable of such power, should not be used wrongly or violently. The art of Karate seeks for something deeper than simple physical cultivation.

I have tested the limit of possibility for human strength using Karate. As a result of it I have found out that I can easily break thirty piled roof tiles, two red bricks or a two-inch thick square board with one stroke. I can also break a stone weighing over twenty pounds. I have verified that the strength to do these which is called 'superhuman,' is developed by repeated training. And needless to say, it is mental power, surpassing physical strength, which is required for this severe training.

" [...] As the proverb goes, 'Temper the heated iron before it gets cold,' so train yourself in self-discipline before you grow older if you wish to be a great man." The Oriental Confucian maxim is: "First train one's self, manage a household, and then reign over a country." It is essential to train one's self if one wants to administer the affairs of state well.

"The really great man can only be produced through continuous heavy training."

I once had an ambition to become a good politician and after experiencing much doubt and suffering, realized the necessity for power over self. Today, as a man who studies and trains in the martial art of Karate, I feel keenly that a perfect man can be produced only through a combination of culture and physical training.

The affairs of state can only be well administered by the hands of a man self-disciplined mentally and physically. Miyamato Mushashi, a famous swordsman of olden times, once said, "Make yourself familiar with all sorts of martial arts; do not think of greediness, profit or life in tomorrow. Think of nothing but the victory or defeat of today."

There is another saying that a lion runs after a hare to the best of his ability. If a lion must try his best, how much more should the politicians and statesmen give their best to the country they serve.

One famous statesman of the Orient devoted himself to serving his nation without thinking of self-interest or distinction; he even refused to accept peerage and court rank [...] If the statesmen of our time could have such pure minds there would be no unsightly bribery or graft.

To sacrifice oneself, to be selfless, is most important. I believe that true soldiers, true men of martial art, are prepared to give their lives to their first cause, moral obligation - and real statesmen should have the same resolution.

When I, as a man of martial accomplishment in sports, consider my fatherland, Korea, I earnestly believe that a mental revolution of Korean youth is a more burning need of the hour than industrial revolution and cultural elevation.

What is this mental revolution? My expression may sound a little too formal but the mental revolution I conceive of envisions Korean youths who do not try to promote their country simply by ideology or because of their desire for political power. They seek integrity and mental strength through physical training in order to become men of firm purpose to take charge of the future of their fatherland.

Cultivation of character is necessary for this purpose, and both physical and mental training are required to cultivate character [...] Only young men with integrity gained through self-discipline such as comes from the spirit of martial accomplishments can take charge of their country.

[...] I should like to propose the salvation of Korea by human nature trained in this self-denying spirit. I hope that young men of my fatherland will try to gain the self-discipline of mind and body inherent in the martial art of Karate so that the country may be restored to its rightful stature.

[...] It is the mission of us all to give our best efforts for country and for mankind.

[Mas Oyama]
What is Karate?, p.19, 119, 121, 128-30

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Budō is a compound of the root bu, meaning war or martial; and , meaning path or way. Specifically, is derived from the Buddhist Sanskrit mārga (meaning the "path" to enlightenment).

The term refers to the idea of formulating propositions, subjecting them to philosophical critique and then following a 'path' to realize them.

signifies a "way of life". in the Japanese context, is an experiential term, experiential in the sense that practice (the way of life) is the norm to verify the validity of the discipline cultivated through a given art form. The modern budō has no external enemy, only the internal enemy, one's ego that must be fought.


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