Topics Worth Investigating

  1. Just as the river can be seen as a four-dimensional object, so likewise your life can be seen as a four-dimensional object. Is this how the holy man, with his insight into the karma of an individual, is able to presage events?

    In this regard, Royce suggests the idea that the self is its history:

    A self is, by its very essence, a being with a past. One must look lengthwise backwards in the stream of time in order to see the self, or its shadow, now moving with the stream, now eddying in the currents from bank to bank of its channel, and now strenuously straining onwards in the pursuit of its chosen good.[1]

    Would consciousness of the unity of life imply that the self in this sense is an illusion?

  2. Does consciousness of the unity of all life imply that time is an illusion? Are the recognition of cycles and the circle of time a preliminary insight to Atman? Dogen Kigen, a thirteenth century Japanese Buddhist, is known for his deeply profound Shobogenzo. He elucidates the notion of reality of time and being in the section "Being-Time":

    Man disposes himself and looks upon this disposition [as the world]. That man is time is undeniably like this. One has to accept that in this world there are millions of objects and that each one is, respectively, the entire world—this is where the study of Buddhism commences. When one comes to realize this fact, [one perceives that] every object, every living thing is the whole, even though it itself does not realize it. As there is no other time than this, every being-time is the whole of time: one blade of grass, every single object is time. Each point of time includes every being and every world.[2]

  3. Is enlightenment just a form of dissociation or some variety of sophisticated stoicism adopted by an individual in order to cope with life's vicissitudes? Interpret the phrases from the text, "…when he did not tie his soul to any particular voice and submerged his self into it … his self had flown into the oneness." Is, then, Atman, Brahman?

  4. Discuss whether when Siddhartha hears the many voices of the river as Om, he is also affirming Schopenhauer's recognition that "All the cruelty and torment of which the world is full is in fact merely the necessary result of the totality of the forms under which the will to live is objectified."[3]?



Josiah Royce. "Lecture IX" in The Problem of Christianity. New York: Macmillan, 1914.


Quoted in Philip Kapleau. The Three Pillars of Zen. New York: Harper & Row, 1966. 298.


Arthur Schopenhauer. Parerga and Paralipomena. Oxford: Oxford University Press (1851) 1997. Vol. 2, Ch. 14, Sect. 164.