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The second chapter explores in more detail the Buddhist concepts relayed by Schopenhauer cycling through Western culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Focusing on the Beckett of the 1930s and writers and artists with whom he was conversant, the chapter chronicles what their works owe to the Buddha and Schopenhauer’s teachings. Subsequent sections probe the analogies that are evident for Schopenhauer between Eastern and Western mysticism – the Buddha and Meister Eckhart’s teachings in particular – resulting in Beckett’s allusions throughout his oeuvre, over six decades, to both Buddhist and Christian Neoplatonic thought. The Buddha and Schopenhauer’s two-world view of the empirical and the metaphysical serves to interrogate nihilistic interpretations of the Buddhist absolute and to focus closely on Schopenhauer’s rescue of nirvāṇa from such misreadings. A short disquisition on the unknowable and silence, values Beckett shared with Eastern and Western thinkers, concludes this chapter.
During the last decades of the fourteenth century a movement of religious revival started in the present-day Netherlands, which came to be known as the Modern Devotion. The Modern Devout led a life of reading, writing, meditation and prayer. The attitude of the New Devout towards mysticism was characterised by ambivalence. Speculative mysticism of the Dominican type, represented by Meister Eckhart, found no echo among them. The typical work for men was the writing of books, as scribes or as authors. Writing pro pretio had some economic relevance; clients were found mainly among the clergy and in the many women's convents of which the brethren had pastoral care. All these texts, however, were in one way or another subservient to the common goal of improving the lives of the houses and their inhabitants: empowerment through reading and writing. Gabriel Biel was an exception to the rule that the Devotio moderna stayed aloof from university life.
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