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Karen Armstrong Void Analysis

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Karen Armstrong and Robert Thurman wrote their essays, “Homo religiosus” and “Wisdom”, respectively, describing two words, “being” and “void”. These words, although have opposite meanings, describe the same spiritual experience that come about through different means. By definition, “being” is a kind of fullness or completeness of existence and “void” is emptiness or a negation of existence. Armstrong believes that “being” is the equivalent of the Buddhist’s “Nirvana” while Thurman believes that “void” is the equivalent of the Buddhist’s “Nirvana”. Although these terms seem to be opposite in the literal sense of defining them, they lead to the same outcome: not being at the center of one’s own universe. We define an object’s existence by its…show more content…
Although Karen Armstrong’s main argument revolves around the idea of “being”, she spoke of “void” and how Nirvana is the result of voidness. Armstrong wrote, “…It [Nirvana] was ‘nothing,’ because it corresponded to no reality that we could recognize in our ego-dominate existence” (Armstrong 16). This, in essence, is the main idea of Thurman’s essay. Thurman described “void” as nothingness that allows one to become selfless. He wrote, “Your falsely perceived, fixated, domineering self is precisely what’s getting between you and a fulfilling life”(Thurman 442 ). He felt that once one stopped looking at oneself as the center of the universe, then he or she could live a satisfying life. Thurman explained, “Once we have freed ourselves from the constricting habit of always thinking that we are the center of the universe, we will experience our first taste of the boundless joy and compassion that is infinite life” (Armstrong 445). “Void” is simply looking at the world from an anonymous…show more content…
Many people feel that they must learn who they are and what their purpose is in order to find themselves. Thurman makes a point to explain that this was the great philosopher Descartes’s mistake. Descartes did not accept his selflessness, instead, he made the conclusion that he could not find himself because he is himself and cannot find something that is the thing doing the searching. He was afraid that if he could not find himself, he did not exist, but Thurman makes the point that one cannot not exist. It is impossible to exist as nothing but one can exist in nothingness. Thurman wrote, “‘Realizing your selflessness’ does not mean that you become a nobody, it means that you became the type of somebody who is a viable, useful somebody, not a frigid fixated, I’m-the-center-of-the-universe, isolated-from-others somebody. You become the type of somebody who is over the idea of a conceptually fixated and self-created ‘self,’ a pseudo-self. You become the type of somebody who is content never to be quite that sure of who you are always free to be someone new, somebody more” (Thurman 443). In order for one to become aware of oneself, one must first realize that he or she is just one other person that the universe will not stop over. Once this is realized, a person may finally feel “complete”, which is the concept behind being. Armstrong felt a
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