Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Haruki Murakami

Many years ago a friend lent me a copy of Haruki Murakami's The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. It was unlike any other novel I'd read previously, not necessarily one I'ld recommend, but certainly unique. Below is his take on ego and the Self in relation to the Tokyo Sarin attacks by the pseudo-Buddhist sect Aum Supreme Truth.
A much debated point is whether the Tibetan Government-In-Exile leader the Dalai Lama XIV has met, endorsed or supported Asahara and Aum Shinrikyo. He did meet Asahara; he doesn't deny this, and there are photos to prove it. His inner circle members supported Aum Shinrikyo during the time when the group struggled to obtain the legal religious organization status. The Dalai Lama at least admitted that this error offered proof that he was not a “living Buddha” but it's a shame he neglected to tell us all that before making the error.
In Eastern spirituality, guru and Self are said to be one and the same. Surrendering the ego to the guru is surrendering it to one's own true Self. But the guru has to be a Satguru (true master) like the Buddha himself. To surrender to a false guru is disastrous. 

Of course, the individual is free to try to overcome desires and attachments and so on, but from an objective point of view it seems extremely dangerous to allow another, a guru, to take control of your own ego. Are there still many believers or ex-believers who don't recognize this?
   I don't think many have thought about it properly. Gautama Buddha said: "The Self is the true master of the Self" and "Keep the Self an island, approaching nothing." In other words, Buddhist disciples practice asceticism in order to find the true Self. They find impurities and attachments, and attempt to extinguish these. But what Mr. Matsumoto (Asahara) did was equate "Self" and "attachments." He said that in order to get rid of the ego, the Self must be disposed of as well. Humans love the "Self," so they suffer, and if the "Self" can be discarded then a shining true Self will emerge. But this is a complete reversal of Buddhist teachings. The Self is what should be discovered, not discarded. Terrorist crimes like the gas attack result from the process of easily giving up on the Self. If the Self is lost, then people will become completely insensitive to murder and terrorism.
   In the final analysis, Aum created people who had discarded their Selves and just followed orders. Therefore enlightened practitioners in Aum, those most steeped in Aum doctrine, are not truly enlightened people who have mastered the truth. It's a perversion for believers who supposedly have renounced the world to run around collecting donations in the name of "salvation."
Haruki Murakami
The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche  (interview with members of Aum Shinrikyo)


Pauline said...

Beautiful blog, thankyou. A real pleasure to the eye as well as the heart.

I entered today through the Murakami posting for a friend but always dip into the Goddess.

Could only find 'post a comment' in Murakami today though...

On free will, Jung was pretty much in agreement with Einstein when he said: 'Free will is the ability to do gladly that which I must do'



jeronimus said...

Hi Pauline. I love the quote from Jung. Thanks for that.
I was thinking of taking a break from blogging for a few months, to pursue other projects, but I always seem to be coming across quotes and images to share. Somehow the right image to go with the quotes usually seems to present itself, though not always the one I initially had in mind.