On another board, in response to my comments on Buddhism and its superiority over Christianity, a poster asked about my characterization of Christianity as self-deception. Hence, this blog.
The Christian concepts of moral experience (sin, afterlife) are entirely imaginary as well as psychologically pernicious. These categories undervalue human experience, making it much more vile than it really is. Thus, those moral concepts motivate Christians to adopt a paranoid and hostile attitude towards their behavior and that of others. Since they are convinced of their sinfulness, that they are deserving of eternal damnation, Christians are compelled to seek spiritual reassurance that comes a large cost of their own mental health and their relationships of others.
Christians are eager to escape their embodied selves, given their convictions of their own sinfulness. Because they believe they’re sinners and are beholden to an unfulfillable law of perfect love, the Christian is certain s/he is a failure. In order to ameliorate this sense of guilt, s/he look to others in the hopes of finding worse sinners. The moral worldview of Christianity has convicted the advocate that their position is perilous, which drives them to judge others to be sinners in order to gain some “upper hand” over them. Therefore, the moral worldview of Christianity inspires uncharitable judgments of other people, despite paying lip-service to neighborly love.
Such misrepresentation of reality results in dishonesty from the adherents, especially when they judge themselves and others. Moreover, the worldview also encourages a disgust with earthly life for the sake of another reality. Worst of all, the insistence on an absolute conformity to a single standard of human behavior causes further psychological damage to the believer. However, there is no “one-size-fits-all” morality. When the Christian, in the attempt to abolish his or her individual character, fails, his or her feelings of inadequacy is reinforced.
This morality is much older than Christianity and has an inherent structure, and a fundamental disposition called ressentiment, or what John Milton calls an “injured merit,” towards the noble class, and revenge is accomplished by passing judgment. The strong and active traits of the noble are vilified by the herd class, who in turn grant virtue to their own passivity and weakness.
In Christianity, the herd morality blooms magnificently in “bad conscience,” where the soul attacks itself, is a disease, although it also has been the prime motive behind some of the greatest achievements of man. The apparent selflessness is the subjugation of one part of the soul by another, where the selfless man, the self-denier and self-sacrificer feels delight in cruelty.
The combination of both bad conscience and the delight in cruelty (ancient morality) is the source of monotheism. Bad conscience motivates a sense of guilt and indebtedness. In early civilization, the feeling of indebtedness was restricted to one’s own ancestors, and the “powers” of the ancestors increased once the power of the tribe also increased. This escalated to the climax of the supreme and all powerful god. Thus, the notion of the all powerful god also hikes the feeling of guilt to ludicrous heights, so extreme that only God himself could redeem humanity from it.
It should surprise absolutely nobody that I appropriated Nietzsche’s views regarding Buddhism in order to antagonize the Christians on another board. His reasons for judging Buddhism as degenerate because the bourgeoisie, weakened after the death of God, would gravitate towards the inherent nihilism and passivity of Buddhism.
Nietzsche rejected Buddhism, even though its treatment of suffering was superior to the Christian version, calling it a “surrender of life” and an inferior response to human life. The treatment, although sensitive and hygienic, are just as life-denying as the ressentiment of Christianity, for they propose how we should manage the cruelty of the world, while failing to engage or embrace it. Buddhism holds out an illusory promise, merely a comforting fiction, that pacifies the masses because reality is far too harsh. Life’s a bitch, therefore, self-deception ensues in the invention of escape.
Buddhism is pretty much a life-negating philosophy that sought to escape the vicissitudes of life drenched with suffering, a “nihilistic turning away from life, a longing for nothingness or for life’s opposite, for a different sort of ‘being.'” Both God and the Nirvana are symptoms of the same root of sickness – fear and weakness and the inability to see the world as it really is.
Now, is this a fair judgment? Nietzsche’s knowledge of Buddhism was limited to the second hand accounts that described Buddhism as a depressive and nihilistic religion, and failed to account for the many flavors of Buddhism. However, despite all those variants of Buddhism, the very core of Buddhism, life as suffering and the cure of the rejection of suffering and desire, is irreconcilable with the affirmation of life, which is, for Nietzsche, a standard to judge worldviews. Buddhism remains nihilistic because it, in the end, projects a system of values onto the world instead of embracing it.
Some scholars, especially the Japanese thinkers (Nishitani Keiji and Abe Masao) reverse the equation by attributing Nietzsche with decadence and present Buddhism as the cure. Other scholars like Morrison argue that Nietzsche’s characterization of Buddhism as a passive nihilistic religion was incorrect, and that there are actually “ironic affinities” between the religion and Nietzsche.