The West (so-called Christendom) is confronted with a new menace, a sort of psychedelic mysticism, and is being haunted by the spirit of Zen, a cult of iconoclasm. There is a tendency toward an anti-puritanical hedonism and a detached existence that has resulted in mental troubles, various forms of violence, including campus riots, and other signs of psycho-social deterioration. All this is a serious symptom of the spiritual decline of the West.

With the rise of existentialism and the impact of Zen on the West, there has emerged a mood known as the “new humanism” with emphasis on personal freedom and human autonomy. Proponents of the new humanism assert that modern man has come of age and can now manage very well without God. Some even blasphemously pronounce that God is dead. Such a stance is not really new; it has a counterpart in the radical school of Zen, founded more than a thousand years ago by Lin-chi (d. 867), who advocated: “If you want to grasp the correct view of Dharma … smash whatever you come across.… Smash the Buddha, Patriarchs and Arhats, if you come across them. Smash your parents and all your relations.” Then, we are told, one will really be “emancipated.” The emancipation of man demands the abolition of all authority and even the death of God.

But, in fact, the dignity of man is related intrinsically to the existence of God. To use Dostoevsky’s words: “If God does not exist, then I am God.” In place of the God-man appears the man-god, the strong personality who stands beyond morality, to whom everything is permitted, who feels he can break laws as he wills. Thus the humanity of man disappears. So, as Konstantin Mochulsky points out, it was one of Dostoevsky’s greatest discoveries that “the nature of man ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: