A Comparison Between Zen Buddhism and Philosophy of Heidegger With Regard to Death, Nothingness and Being

In the field of comparative studies regarding the history of philosophy some cases are perhaps more thought provoking and intriguing than others. I attempt to display and critically discuss here what I take to be one such case which involves two prominent perspectives in the context of the notions of death, nothingness and being: Zen Buddhism and the Heideggerian ontology. With regard to their commonality, it can be pointed out that they both refrain from taking emptiness (nothing) to be opposite to or disconnected from fullness (being). Moreover, they both refuse to view death as an event happening at a particular moment. At the same time, however, they do handle the concepts of “nothing” and “being” in remarkably different ways. The crux of my argument is that Heidegger, in a manner different from Zen Buddhism, brings to bear the interplay between disclosures of “nothing” and “being”. Furthermore, I maintain that we need to focus on his notion of “anxiety” to fully appreciate the difference in question here.


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