Adversity, and its Importance

Ferdinand Hodler, The Day (detail).

Friederich Nietzsche tells us that “whatever does not kill us makes us stronger.” It’s a bold statement. Yet, though today the culture often seems to reward those who wallow in self-pity (not least of all through litigation for emotional upsets and “offense”), adversity has played a crucial part in the spiritual, intellectual, and creative development […]

The Spiritual Warrior and the Dharma Way

According to the Bhagavad Gita, it is on the battlefield that Krishna (Lord of the Universe) teaches the eternal truth (Sanatana Dharma), and reveals his omnipotent form, to his disciple Arjuna. Again, we are told that Krishna his brother Balarama defeated the powerful wrestlers sent, by King Kamsa of Mathura, to kill them. Early stories about the Buddha […]

Sacrifices, priestesses, and the roots of modern sport

“What is remarkable about [ancient] Greek sport,” says David Sansone in Greek Athletics and the Genesis of Sport, “is the seriousness with which it was taken as a  cultural and even religious phenomenon.” “Sport is, no less than burnt offerings and libations, a form of ritual sacrifice.” Though spotlighted almost exclusively in entertainment — and rarely […]

Violence and the sacred: finding inner peace in times of outer conflict

A few weeks ago I happened to be reading Vali Nasr’s The Shia Revival on the way back from a martial arts session. I’d received a pretty firm kick in the side, and was conscious of pain in that area. I don’t want to overdramatize it, the injury meant sleeping was difficult for the following […]

Can radical spirituality end racism?

“”What the superior man seeks,” said Confucius, “is in himself; what the ordinary man seeks, is in others.” In the West, those who consider themselves spiritual, thinking people, inevitably consider themselves to be concerned with the internal — the inner being — not the external. Frequently, though, nothing could be further from the truth. And […]

Toward a Holistic Politics

Although a relatively obscure thinker in the English-speaking world, it is to the German theorist Oswald Spengler that we must look to find the influence on much of the political thought of the West. Huntington’s “clash of civilization” thesis is Spenglarian, as is Walter Laquer’s Last Days of Europe: Epitaph for an Old Continent and […]

Mishima: the aesthetics of action

It has been more than four decades since Yukio Mishima — Japanese playwright, modern samurai, nationalist, bodybuilder, and all round enigma — sent a shock wave through Japan by committing seppuku, the ritual suicide of the samurai. Yet, today, he is back in public view. July saw the launch of Koji Wakamatsu’s movie 11.25 The […]