Tradition's Prince of the Śākyas

& his Secret Aristocratic Inner Disciplines for Today's Aryan Man

vs. Foreign Devotional Ascesis

(from "The Path of Cinnabar")




[...] On the other hand, I composed a systematic work on original Buddhism: The Doctrine of Awakening - A Study of Buddhist Ascesis (La dottrina del risveglio - Saggio sull'ascesi buddhista). This book, too, was only published at a later date, in 1943, by Laterza.

In a way, by writing the latter book, I repaid my debt to Buddha's doctrine. I already mentioned how one of Buddha's teachings had crucially contributed to my overcoming of the personal crisis I had experienced in the immediate aftermath of the First World War. At a later date, I came to employ Buddhist texts daily, in a practical way, for purposes of self-realization, as a means to develop a detached awareness of 'being'. He who had been the prince of the Śākyas had described a series of inner disciplines that I perceived as being most congenial to myself - for I felt that devotional (and particularly Christian) ascesis was foreign to my own nature.

In my study, I sought to emphasize the true nature of Buddhism, a doctrine which had undergone much distortion, both in most of its later forms - when, following its revelation and spread, Buddhism had turned into a religion - and in the perception of Buddhism prevalent in the West. In fact, I explained in the book, the essential nature of Buddhist doctrine was originally metaphysical and initiatory. The view of Buddhism as simply a kind of morality based on compassion, humanitarianism and a flight from life arising from the idea that 'life is pain' is most foreign, profane and superficial. Buddhism was rather born of a will to attain the unconditioned, a will that was radically affirmed by seeking to attain what transcends life and death. It is not so much 'pain' that Buddhism seeks to overcome, as the agitation and contingency implied by all conditioned existence, which has its origin, root and foundation in greed: a thirst which, by its very nature, cannot be extinguished by leading an ordinary life; an intoxication, or 'mania', a form of ignorance and attachment that leads towards the desperate, drunken and greedy identification of the ‘I’ with one or the other form of the perishable world in the eternal current of becoming (samsāra). The term 'nirvāna' merely describes the negative task of extinction (the extinction of thirst and of metaphysical 'ignorance’). The positive counterpart of nirvāna is enlightenment or awakening (bodhi), from which the word 'Buddha' derives ('Buddha' being a title meaning 'The Awakened One' and not a name, as most people believe). It is for this reason that I chose to entitle my book The Doctrine of Awakening.

According to the historical Buddha, the doctrine of awakening was lost in the course of the centuries, having been obscured in India by ritual and by the presumptuous, fossilized speculation of the brāhmana caste. Buddha reaffirmed and renewed the doctrine, which he did not fail to inform with his own character: that of a member of the warrior rather than the brāhmana caste. The 'aristocratic' nature of Buddhism, which is permeated by a virile and warrior force - the roar of the Lion symbolizing Buddha's message - applied on an immaterial and atemporal level, is the one feature of Buddhism that I most emphasized in my work, in contrast to the aforementioned distorted, passive and humanitarian interpretations of the doctrine.

A further feature of Buddhism (in its authentic and essential formulation) that I emphasized is the fact that Buddhism cannot be termed a religion in the common, theistic sense of the word. And this is not because Buddhism is a mere moral system inferior to religion; but, on the contrary, because Buddhist doctrine transcends religion. Buddhism cannot be termed a religion insofar as every initiatory and esoteric doctrine cannot be termed a religion. An aspiration towards the unconditioned leads the Buddhist ascetic beyond Being and beyond the god of Being; beyond the very bliss of celestial heavens, which the ascetic views as a binding force - for the hierarchies of the traditional, popular deities are seen as part of the finite, contingent world to be transcended. In Buddhist texts it is frequently written that: 'He (i.e., the ascetic) has transcended this world and the world beyond, the human bond and the divine bond: for both bonds he has broken.' The ultimate goal of Buddhism, therefore, the Great Liberation, perfectly coincides with that of the purest metaphysical tradition, and coincides with the super-substantial apex, both anterior and superior to being and non-being, and to any personal or 'creator' god.

While my book made other, similar clarifications, adequately outlining the doctrinal framework of Buddhism (for instance, by explaining the theory of the 'chain of causes' that leads to the finite existence of the non-I, and by clarifying the obscure idea of reincarnation), the focus of my study was the practical side of Buddhism: its asceticism, which I explored on the basis of the evidence from primary texts. By referring here to other esoteric traditions, I sought to define Buddhist practice in a more adequate way than either Orientalists or contemporary representatives of Buddhism had done.

In my introduction to The Doctrine of Awakening, I pointed out that my choice to focus on Buddhism was due to the fact that this discipline, more than any other, embodies 'a complete and objective method of ascesis, expressed in lucid and conscious terms which are both unmitigated, tested and well-articulated; a method that suits the spirit of the Aryan man, but also takes account of the conditions which have become prevalent in recent times.' The techniques of Buddhism are conscious techniques, free of any religious or moral mythology - morality being merely regarded as the means to an end in Buddhism, which ignores the fetishism of moral values (i.e., the intrinsic imperativeness of given norms). Buddhist techniques might be described as scientific, for they take account of each step in the path to self-realization, and of the organic links existing between each phase of the ascetic process. The ultimate aim of Buddhist asceticism is the quenching of thirst: de-conditioning, awakening, the Great Liberation. In my book, I emphasized how at least part of these disciplines for self-realization can be pursued while leading an ordinary life, as a way of strengthening one's inner character, of achieving detachment, and of establishing something invulnerable and indestructible within oneself. The 'aristocratic' ascesis of Buddhism, therefore, can also be of an immanent kind: in the closing pages of my work, I focused on the contemporary value of Buddhist practice for alienated individuals as an antidote to the psychic milieu of a world marked by senseless activity, and by the identification with 'vital', irrational and chaotic forces. As the reader might recall, I had emphasized this very point at the end of the second edition of The Yoga of Power, where I described the essential prerequisites to tread the Tantric path. After all, the 'Shiva' principle, which according to the Tantras must come to rule the 'Shakti', in the ultimate merging of the two, coincides with the 'extra-samsaric' principle that Buddhist ascesis seeks to incorporate and reinforce.

My reference in the book to an ascesis 'that takes account of the conditions which have come to prevail in recent times' alluded to the general theory regarding the degeneration which has come to mark world history even from an existential perspective. For man, today, is far from finding himself in a condition where he might rely, for the purposes of spiritual self-realization, on the presence of genuine and effective contacts with the transcendent, or on external forms of traditional support. The Buddha himself is the image of an individual who has paved his own way: a 'warrior ascetic' destined to establish a chain of spiritual masters and of corresponding spiritual influences. The most important feature of original Buddhism, therefore, was its practical streak: an affirmation of the primacy of action that shuns all idle speculation, all wandering of the mind through problems, hypotheses, fantasies and myths; in other words: the primacy of personal, self-realizing experience. It is for this reason that the Buddha doctrinally favored 'negative theology', refusing to theorize or talk about the supreme goal to be achieved. The Buddha merely described such a goal in negative terms, as that which it is not and that which must be overcome.




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