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Bhagavadgita, Nietzsche, Zarathustra, Essay Example

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The Bhagavad-Gita (BG) puts forth its regimen of four disciplines, which together comprise different forms of yoga. The disciplines of knowledge, meditation, devotion, and action are called jñana, raja, bakhti, and karma, respectively. Karma is the most well-known of these disciplines which has been extrapolated from the BG and into the mainstream as something of a mixture between Newton’s laws of action and reaction and the Biblical golden rule. Nonetheless, the principle of an action itself as being important is crucial to religious philosophy. The BG impacted the wider philosophical body of theories, popularizing psychological concepts of duality, experimental theology, and the importance of illusions in its examinations of knowledge. Only in bypassing ties to the earthly state is true knowledge found; to reach this higher state, individual connections must be made about the meaning of life and the universe. Meditation helps each person reflect upon the gaps in their earthly understanding and how that has contributed to the sorrows of temporal existence. After meditation reveals knowledge, a person must devote themselves to the manifestation of Brahman. Only after a person has reflected, learned, and devoted themselves can they understand the reasons for acting in accordance with the other three yogas. The reasons behind action are stressed in the BG and in the Ramayana, which advocate the cleansing of the mind and heart as part of the enlightenment journey. That is not to say that any one is more important or that there is a specific sequence which enlightenment must follow; Krishna emphasizes this point by calling the yogas ‘paths’.

Friedrich Nietzsche writes of eternal recurrence as a world of continual struggle against dominance and injustice, speaking of the creative response of the oppressed peoples who gradually adjust and overcome, toppling the hierarchies which continue the chain of aggressive reality. He begins this discussion in “On Truth and Lie” and addresses it in various forms throughout Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Nietzsche marginalizes many conflicts as rather petty but also remarks that the ability to forget is a divine gift. Without this ability, he writes that there is no happiness, pride, or subsistence in earthly life. In the book’s chapter “Redemption”, the author simplifies the level of expected humility by presenting Zarathustra as an ideal: “A seer, a purposer, a creator, a future itself, and a bridge to the future —and alas! also as it were a cripple on this bridge: all that is Zarathustra”. Perhaps this is why Nietzsche seems so cynical at times. If Zarathustra is all these things and a cripple, then of what import are the ‘average’ people occupying themselves with trivial matters of existence?

This example exemplifies Nietzsche’s criticisms of nihilism. Because he writes that humankind has come to the death of its absolute belief in God, they are empowered to accept their weaknesses and to overcome them rather than wait for divine intervention or to cite them as simple features of God’s perfect creation—beyond the understanding or control of individuals. Nietzsche refers to this belief in God and in nihilism as a childlike dependency. Thus, humans are capable of making a conscientious decision to overcome the need for revenge- just not to altogether forget it. Nietzsche’s words as Zarathustra encounters the dwarf in “On the vision and riddle”, summarize this interconnecting thread: “For courage is the best slayer, – courage which attacks: for in every attack there is sound of triumph”.

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