View Full Version : Schopenhauer on Christianity

Friday, December 10th, 2004, 05:07 AM
Although in no sense whatsoever a religious believer, ... [Schopenhauer] had the profoundest respect for Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, while on the other hand he despised Judaism and Islam. He thought that Christianity, rightly understood, was much closer to Buddhism than is generally realized. ... Schopenhauer regarded Jesus the man as being almost a sort of natural Buddhist, and believed that he must have been under influences from further East: "Whatever anyone may say, Christianity has Indian blood in its veins." It had brought to Europe some of the profoundest of instights which had spread out form India centuries before, through Hinduism and Buddhism. "Through Christianity Europe acquired a tendency which had hitherto been foreign to her, by virtue of a knowledge of the fundamental truth that life cannot be an end in itself, but that the true purpose of our existence lies beyond it ... Christianity preached not merely justice but loving kindness, sympathy, compassion, benevolence, forgiveness, love of one's enemy, patience, humility, renunciation, faith, and hope. In fact it went further; it taught that the world is evil and that we need salvation. Accordingly, it preached a contempt for the world, self-denial, chastity, giving up of one's own will, that is, turning away from life and its delusive pleasures. Indeed, it taught one to recognize the sanctifying force of suffering; an instrument of torture is the symbol of Christianity. I am quite ready to admit that the serious and only correct view of life was spread in other forms all over Asia thousands of years earlier, just as it is even now, independently of Christianity; but for humanity in Europe it was a new and great revelation."

From Schopenhauer by Bryan Magee.