Gautama with Foucault: Postmodern Spirituality

Gautama with Foucault: Postmodern Spirituality

Maitriyana is a New Way of Buddhism that reconciles Theravada and Mahayana. But furthermore, this Revolutionary Way keeps a profound dialectical relationship with Western Spiritualities, such as Psychoanalysis, Transpersonalism, Existentialism, Relativism, Socialism and Anarchism. The unity of these perspectives conform a practical and theoretical corpus of Metapsychology, Metaphilosophy and Metapolitics, so Maitriyana is then the expression of a Postmodern Spirituality for the Buddha-Dharma-Sangha.

The psychologist and philosopher Michel Foucault affirmed that Psychoanalysis and Marxism are forms of wisdom where there are the issues, questions and the millenarian exigencies of the epimeleia heautou. But, of course, very few followers of these two forms of wisdom have explicitly considered the point of view of which is part of the Spirituality as a condition of access to the Truth.[1] Before the advent of Foucault, those who have not attempted to hide the own Spirituality conditions of those forms of wisdom have been thinkers like Assagioli, Jung, Fromm, Lacan, Frankl, Mann, Heidegger, Sartre and Wittgenstein. This existential-analytic movement descends the field of knowledge to the study of concrete practices capable of overcoming the subject-object dualism.

From the Gautama-Foucault dialogue, Maitriyana defines Spirituality as a practical and experiential Way by which the subject performs an inner transformation to obtain access to the Truth. Therefore, the Analytic-Existential-Libertarian Discourse denominates Spirituality to the set of practices and searches that can be purification, initiation, Detachment, the un-concealment of Being, existential modification and Sublimation, which constitute the effort that the apprentice has to perform to have access to the Truth or Purpose (Dharma) of life.

Spirituality postulates that the Truth never happens through metaphysical beliefs, but through a peak understanding (Satori) which transforms the subject, displacing the domain of the Ego to produce Reconciliation (Maitri) with the repressed Being. This means that without practice there is not an ethical conversion of consciousness and therefore there is no access to the Truth.

The Analytic-Existential-Libertarian Discourse is a Return to the Real, liberating the apprentice from unconscious repetition (karma-avidya) of psychic and relational patterns that interfere with the authenticity and spontaneity of the sublimatory structure (Nirodh).

The Maitriyana movement considers that in the contemporary world there is an urgent and fundamental requirement, which is the task of caring of the Self through the practice of ethics, since certainly the practice of meditation is the most effective form of resistance to the oppression of capitalist political Power. In this way, the care of oneself is not only a condition of access to the Truth of life, but is also an incitement to attend to the changing the world. This care of Being was one of the spiritual practices that the Essenes (Therapists) transmitted to the West after the missions of King Ashoka, being of a Stoic nature as exampled by both Socrates and Seneca,[2] and found in all the main philosophical streams of thought.[3] However, this individual direction can not be realized without the presence of an intense relationship of affection and friendship to the neighbor, since Spirituality is a life style determined by ethics. Therefore, and with justification, the spiritual master is characterized as possessing an ethical speech that freely expresses (parrhesía) from the openness, compassion and wisdom of the heart-mind (karuna-prajña), not hiding his True Being and talking frankly about the conditions which oppress Freedom. Whilst faithful and therapeutic words generally is employed by the spiritual master in the training of the apprentices (as a rite of passage), it has to be acknowledged that ultimately, each spiritual traveler saves themselves. This is the responsibility of structural freedom applicable to the individual which is the process of his own Cure (Nirvana); a reality that was clearly perceived by Master Dogen.

The articulation of Gautama-Foucault understands Spirituality as a number of analytical existential and libertarian operations, through which the apprentice should purify his mind, becoming capable of being in contact with the divine nature that exists in him and in others. Therefore, the care of one’s ethics simultaneously leads to the search for the salvation of others. The Awakening (Bodhi) of Being is then the best way to work for the liberation of the world. Thus, Maitriyana clarifies that Free Being (Arhat) is synonymous with the Enlightened Being (Bodhisattva).

The idea of a spiritual conversion or inner transformation, as the only method that is able to provide access to the Truth, can not only be found throughout the ancient philosophy of East and West, but also in Psychoanalysis and Socialism. But from modern philosophy of Descartes and Kant, along with the development of capitalism and materialistic science, was the concealed and repressed idea that one can not have access to the Truth if it does not change his way of being.[4] Evidently, Spirituality differs from religiosity, considering that without the presence of a complex transformation practice is not possible if the subject can not access the Truth, since the Ego can only perceive illusions and fantasies (Maya). Certainly, as the Master Lacan has affirmed, the subject can become accustomed to the traits of the Real, which are unsatisfactoriness, impermanence and insubstantiality, but the Truth is repressed by the ordinary consciousness. It is because of this that the work of inner transformation, which is designed to produce the derepression of the True Being, and helps the apprentice to stop living in an illusory world.

In accordance with Foucault, Maitriyana defines Spirituality to the practical and experiential inquiry by which the subject self-realizes and transforms to get access to the Truth.[5] This is performed by the Being of the subject itself. At the same time Gautama-Foucault dialogue makes evident the spiritual character of Psychoanalysis,[6] which crucial concepts are transitioned from the psychological to the Spiritual; this is a revolution initiated by Jung, Fromm and Lacan. Hadot and Foucaultian genealogy tends to identify the Freudism and Marxism as anti-religious perspectives; despite the fact that at the same time both have been used to found spiritual movements, which seek to liberate and cure human beings from the opium of the people.  In this regard, Marx is a great spiritual  revolutionary on a par with Confucius.

Furthermore, Psychoanalysis and Socialism may be recognized as metascientific, as their central problem is relevant to the spiritual practitioner as they strive to access the Truth. In other words, this is the path required to gain access to the Truth and get out of illusion, since the existential ignorance (avidya) is the strongest poison of the human mind. This central question of overcoming suffering is absolutely typical of Buddhist Spirituality and can be founded in the beginning and in the end of the knowledges of Psychoanalysis and Socialism.[7]

However, to consider this explicitly requires a clarity and courage that very few have had in the history of thought. Maitriyana considers fundamental that the world returns to the subject’s relationship with the Truth from the point of view of the techniques and practices of transformation or spiritual conversion. It is required for this cross the normalization of knowledge which it generates both religious and academic Discourse. In the XX century, as perceived the articulation Gautama-Foucault, very few people in the world have sought to restore the question of how the subject can access the Truth, and Heidegger and Lacan certainly are within this select group of precursors of Maitriyana. However, most of the followers of Psychoanalysis and Socialism forget the issue of the formation of the formation of freedom for the individual, and this has been the price they paid to have academic and institutional growth within the cultural field.

The articulation of Gautama-Foucault appreciates the analysis of Master Lacan as an attempt to focus on Psychoanalysis within the question of the individual and his Way toward Truth. Thus, Maitriyana recognizes Lacan as someone who abandoned psychological positivism and made to resurface Spirituality within the same Psychoanalysis,[8] refloating the oldest tradition of the epimeleia heautou, which is the transformation that the apprentice should experiment to break through the illusion (Maya) and tell the Truth.

Psychoanalysis is not a sophisticated branch of psychology, [9] the same manner as Socialism is not merely a political radical chapter. The articulation of Gautama-Foucault allows unconcealing the dark secret of both disciplines, by becoming aware that there are spiritual movements that help the subject to perform self-analysis in order to access to Truth and reabsorb the Emptiness-of-Being within the peak understanding (Satori) of oneself.

By Master Maitreya

Director of Maitreya Buddhist University and President of World Association of Buddhism (WBA)

[1] M. Foucault, Hermeneutics of the subject.

[2] J. Allouch, Psychoanalysis is it a spiritual exercise? Response Michel Foucault.

[3] M. Foucault, Hermeneutics of the subject.

[4] M. Foucault, Hermeneutics of the subject.

[5] M. Foucault, Hermeneutics of the subject.

[6] J. Allouch, Psychoanalysis is it a spiritual exercise? Response Michel Foucault.

[7] M. Foucault, Hermeneutics of the subject.

[8] M. Foucault, Hermeneutics of the subject.

[9] M. Foucault, Lacan: the ‘liberator’ of Psychoanalysis.

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