Friday, July 16, 2010

I will be the philosopher

'No, no, I must think. Even if you ought not to I must. It's okay for me. That's my job. They'll have mentioned me. You see, I'm the philosopher."

From time to time I encounter an odd reaction to the way I think and speak and look at the world. My father most of all is bothered by my choice. I do not mind this. It shows that he loves me. It is the reaction of those who have read a little in the Eastern Tradition. They do not know that I will be the philosopher mentioned in the passages they read.

'Leave it to the philosophers,' says the sage. I will be one of the philosophers. Go ahead, chop wood and carry water. Do not take the first step on that thousand mile journey. Try to be in the sense of being. I cannot, because I must be as a philosopher.

It is not those who have read enough to know exactly what harm I do or in what way Western thought fails to understand the world, it is those who know only enough to know that in some odd way it is wrong. It does fail. How? Father do not know this. I know, and as such love Eastern philosophy.

For me and for others like me it is that good friend who is the compliment of our own thought. It is the friend who you meet in a class or well having lunch, who warms you and challenges you and makes your life richer and you can never understand how they can be so wonderful until one day they tell you that they think the same of you.

Japanese philosophy, the only branch I have studied at length, drank deep of Western thought. What it produced is it's own but you can hear the words of Heraclitus echo there also.

They do not know this, the people who fear and question me. Father does not know, and I never thought to tell him that I revel in Western thought without - in fact because I am not -- blinded to it's short comings. I would not dare play as I do if I thought that the goddess of wisdom was perfect. If I thought she her without a sense of humour, put off by teasing and ragging then I would not dare.

It is the same in the East, although I do not with those thoughts quite as often. The East can encourage giving up of the self, which is a dangerous idea in a community of people who do not do the same. There are other faults I do not know. But I know that neither is the East nor the West perfect, nor are they fully divided but for me they are equally wonderful.

Picture by Jessica Kern. Olympic Hotsprings, Washington.

1 comment:

newjenny said...

I feel annoyed by people who assert that Eastern philosophy is better than Western philosophy without knowing very much about either. A lot of great people have dedicated their great minds to Western philosophy. It should not be casually dismissed.