Free Essay on Hindu and Zen, Calculative and Meditative Thinking, Characterization of Sin and Other Topics

Published: 2022-06-03
Free Essay on Hindu and Zen, Calculative and Meditative Thinking, Characterization of Sin and Other Topics
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Religion
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1534 words
13 min read

Hindu and Zen, Heidegger's Concept of Calculative and Meditative Thinking, Pavel Florensky's Characterization of Sin, Culture of Modernity's Idea of Subjectivism Domination, and Awareness in the Text 'I'


Vietnamese Zen guru advises his students to live in the moment and avoid engaging in activities without giving them their full attention. His verbatim advice is that one should "wash dishes for the sake of washing dishes" and "eat for the sake of eating. The advice applies to all other activities that human beings engage in, and its underlying principle is that spontaneity of mind is an indication of an existence that is free of all anxiety. Spending too much time in the future (in dreams) or in the past (memories) indicates anxiety rather than an awareness of our present lot in life. This concept of getting wholly immersed in the present moment and dedicating all the mind to living it is called non-dualism (Harris, 64).

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The aim of non-dualism is the pursuit of clarity of thought and action at a time when technological advancements and our own proclivity for multi-tasking is to avoid spending our lives doing lots of things yet getting nothing done. Being in the current moment and indulging in the activity at hand mind, body, and spirit is the only way that non-dualism can be approached. A wandering mind denies us the opportunity to experience life in all its beauty because we are always distracted. Multi-tasking constitutes what Zen Master Keido Fukushima calls moment negation, meaning that when one eats and reads, they can enjoy neither one nor the other. The time spent doing both winds up being lost.

Mindfulness, on the other hand, means to be fully aware of every moment of life (Harris, 65). Being aware of every single event in our life, including the distractions is the only way that we can achieve fulfillment, living life to the fullest. Furthermore, mindfulness allows us to tackle issues in our lives with free minds and achieve harmony.

Calculative and Meditative Thinking

The mind, and the ability to think is humankind's greatest asset and their distinctive characteristic among other species. According to Heidegger (12), we engage in various distinct types of thinking depending on the ends we hope to achieve our thinking. Consequently, the type of thinking that allows us to come up with inventions and innovations to improve our lives is entirely different to the kind that nurtures our religious tendencies. Calculative (technological) and meditative thinking are two of the most relevant forms of human thought because they govern every aspect of our lives and informs our behavior.

Technological thinking is based on the quest for the discovery of the secrets of the world, interspersed with the need to make life merrier and all the more worthwhile the living. As such, calculative thinking tends to bring instrumentalism out of concepts and ideas. This type of thinking is proof that the human mind can perceive previously hidden ideas and apply itself to the actualization of these ideas to make life easier. In philosophy, techne, the Latin word for technology, defines the complete understanding of something and the eventual revealing of the same to allow others to perceive it (Heidegger, 13).

Meditative thinking, on the other hand, delineates a form of thinking that opens our hearts and our minds to ideas and concepts, mostly about ourselves. According to Heidegger (19), meditative thinking is the quintessence of human understanding of the universe. We use meditative thinking to gain a better insight into our true natures and all other things around us. Therefore, meditative thinking can be said to be the source of all human understanding, meaning that calculative thinking entails the mastery of meditative thinking with the aspects of instrumentalism for which technological thinking is credited.

Characterization of Sin

For as long as human beings have lived, they have had rules about what is right and what is wrong, and have strived to adhere to right and correct conduct. The idea of misconduct varies in definition and effect from one culture to another, but religion best demarcates these boundaries. According to Pavel Florensky, sinfulness is the absence of order and truth that comes with the absence of God in the running of human affairs (125). Sin, therefore, is the natural outcome of Godlessness, and it comes about where unfruitful lives associate with the devil to corrupt the perfect intentions of God in our lives. Therefore, even though sin brings about death and damnation, it exists only insofar as life grants it meaning.

Florensky's view of sin is very specific in its denouncement of the vice, borrowing on Christian teachings on the conception of sin and its profound effects on our lives. As the sole creation of God's nemesis, sin seeks to destroy the perfect order of God's creation by damaging man's relationship with his creator. Therefore, sin is the blasphemous mockery of the religious ceremony, a deceptive backward representation of the right way that reeks of deprivation and desolation yet tantalizes the senses with the false promise of great reward. The only reward of committing evil, or sinning, is the complete falling apart of the soul in a tortured inner struggle, a phenomenon defined by Florensky (129) as fragmentation.

Fragmentation of the spirit or the soul is the ultimate cost of sin (the indulging in evil), and the price humanity pays for sinning is that they are forever seeking the impossible return to their pre-sin realities. Collectively, the concept of fragmentation suggests that humanity fell to our current vulnerable existence because of the sin of our ancestors. Our opposition to God and His instructions brings about our continued personal fragmentation.

Culture of Modernity

Modernity is a culture of the present that seeks to lump together millennials and the twenty-first-century demographics into one stereotypical definition of aimlessness, entitlement, and indifference. As the most recent and modern generation, millennials are the ultimate representation of modernity. Theirs has been the technological age of the internet, the global village, and smartphone use. The culture of modernity features such universally fresh ideas that the world of today contrasts sharply to that of a century ago. The culture of modernity affects the young who were born to it because it creates inter-generation conflicts between them and their parents (Schwindt, 15). Two ways in which subjectivism dominates the modern age is in the economic model and personal understanding.

Modernity has come up with the concept of utilitarianism, a system where actions are taken with the aim of attaining certain particular goals. Therefore, the culture of modernity has turned out to be a no-frills, practical one in which actions are only taken if and when they promise to produce concrete outcomes. In subjectivism, people are no longer interested in self-reflection, partly because technology clogs all avenues of self-reflection and because the concept is alien. In the classroom or making life decisions, the culture of modernity exhibits highly individualized notions and is concerned only with self-aggrandizement (Beneton, 143).

Identity is another area where subjectivism has had a profound effect on the culture of modernity. According to the culture of modernity Beneton, the quest for autonomy has collapsed the social order in universities and institutions of higher learning (143). The meaning of life is lost in the struggle to maintain the autonomy to define it, and the circle of knowledge has shrunk and lost its heart. Rather than grant them the autonomy they so steadily demand, the culture of modernity strips them of their identity instead.

Awareness in the Text 'I'

Several explanations for the 'I' awareness exist that attempt to explain the occurrence of the phenomenon. In the text 'I'= Awareness Deikman contests the notion that our experiencing of the 'I' is subject to our bodily functions and our perceiving of them (17). Previous theories have suggested that experiencing or discovering the 'I' entails reaching the nucleus of our personal identities and discover that which exists in us, or the core of our being. Deikam offers a completely new perspective that dissociates 'I' with our thoughts, desires, memories, feelings, and sensations.

Rather than being the ultimate goal of self-examination with the goal of self-discovery, 'I' is the tool through which we manage to observe ourselves (Deikam, 18). It is defined as an unrevealed area of our psyche where our faculties are yet to penetrate, yet in evaluating our lives, we use the 'I' to observe. It is the ultimate form of awareness beyond the ego, which makes it incorruptible to our personal prejudices. Getting in touch with the 'I' signifies ultimate empowerment. This state of empowerment exists beyond thoughts, desires, memories, feelings, and sensations and is only filled with awareness of the self.


Harris, I. C. (2004). With my Zen mind: Part 3 of "The Laughing Buddha of Tofukuji: The Life of Zen Master Keido Fukushima." Bloomington: World Wisdom Inc.

Heidegger, M. (1977). The question concerning technology and other essays. New York: Harper & Row Publishers

Florensky, P. (1977). The pillar and ground of the truth. Princeton: Princeton University Press

Schwindt, D. (2015). There must be more than this: Identity spiritual renewal in the kingdom of whatever (A letter to my generation). New York: Angelico Press

Beneton, P. (2004). Equality by default: An essay on modernity as confinement. Wilmington: ISI Books

Deikman, A. J. (1996). 'I'= Awareness. Antimatters, 2(4), 15-21

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