Buddha and Nietzsche

Day 216 Week 32 Q3  Thursday August 4, 2022

Buddha and Nietzsche

Hey, I know they never met in person. How did they meet? Does it matter?  

They met in my mind this morning when I realized they both were searching for meaning, like many of us.

They asked ”what’s it all about”? The question you can ask yourself at any age, at any time of day, and in every situation  and likely you will get more than one answer. What a surprise? 

Bottom line is Nietzsche seemed to feel that one could create their own meaning, and a handy way to do so was by creating culture.  I felt like he was talking to me as I write and play music, even though I am not sure that my work constitutes culture. I am not even sure that there is even a way to tell. I have been told by teachers and colleagues something like, when you are artist it is not your job to determine how good your work is.  You simply have to do the best job you can and hopefully you will be satisfied in how you have expressed yourself. There is no way to tell what others will think and even if you were to guess pandering to others is not going to generate meaning for you.

And this is where Buddha enters the conversation. He too asked “what’s goring on?” One of the things he discovered ar at least empirically verified was the sufferings comes about through attachment. Which I take to mean, do not be overly attached to outcomes. Buddha basically said we were all mostly hung up about how well did things turn out. Now can one create culture or art without being attached to it? 

Absolutely, there are many directors and musicians who do not ever revisit their own works once they are done. Or on a much more basic level – we can journal because it makes us feel good, but we do not ever have to read our journals.

Most of the people I know who pursue diminishing returns which includes all manner of nerds. As an aside the are plenty of kinds of nerds other than intellectual academic nerds. There are cooking nerds, and swimmer nerds, and entrepreneurial nerds. In my book anyone who becomes obsessed with what they are doing enough to do it to the exclusion of most everything else is a nerd. And this is not a bad thing for most of the wonderful outcomes in the world come about from this pursuing of diminishing returns. 

But in most of the cases within the lives of people I know, they are not nerds because they are wondering about how others view them, but more in spite fo what others think who accuse them of being obsessed. Most creators create because they want to, and in fact they have to. It is too hard a path to travel unless you are internally motivated. So, is pursuing a PhD which in general is not worth it if the goal is to make a lot of money or get very famous, for they are both unlikely outcomes.

Now one can try very hard to do things and become very vested in doing them and still not be overly attached to the outcomes. I once found myself amount a group of Nobel laureates at a 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize, where none of the laureates was still thinking about the topics they won their awards for. They had all moved on to new projects, topics and interests they were curious about and wanted to explore. They were not attached to their fame or their prior works. They were however attached to moving forward and doing new things, not to outcomes.

I think both Buddha and Nietzsche were right – create your own meaning but do not be overly attached to it. It is the behavior not the goal that is rewarding or else the effort is to great to invest and none of the musicians I know became musicians to get famous (and none did). They became musicians for their own internal reasons. Some because they hated small talk and playing permitted them to speak through their music.

By the way the same applies to planning. Do it fervently and even obsessively as it is a great exercise to explore the relationships between all of the components of you dreams and intentions. But do to be overly surprised if the outcome differs significantly from what you planned, as it often does.  

So, yes by all means crest the meaning on our life because otherwise you are not likely to have any. But do not be overly attached to what you created or you will also be setting yourself up for suffering.