Experience, insight, and practice
The three indispensable factors of the inner life
Karlfried Graf Dürckheim (1896 - 1988), author of Hara: The Vital Center of Man (among other notable books), was a psychotherapist, a diplomat, an expounder of Meister Eckhart, and a Zen master — and (despite his maternal Jewish roots) he was also a Nazi. Unlike Heidegger or the Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun, he distanced himself from Nazism later on; but still, the unavoidable taint lingers when reading his works (which I have done). I wish I could recommend Dürckheim unreservedly. A great many of his insights are sound and invaluable, as we will see below. But, alas, I can't bring myself to do it, even though there's nothing in his post-war writings to indicate residual Nazi ideas. He left them behind, for which we can be thankful, but I can only recommend his books under advisement. A Psychology Today article by Steve Taylor (you can click on the link here) begs the question of how someone as evidently "spiritual" as Dürckheim — a committed Zen man — could also have succumbed to the lure of authoritarianism at its most loathsome. It's a highly relevant question, as the author demonstrates, and his psychological take on Dürckheim has merit. It’s a warning to us all that a healthy interior life involves (to adopt Jungian language) recognizing the unhealthy and underdeveloped areas of ourselves, avoiding at all costs identifying ourselves or others with “archetypes,” and knowing the potentially dangerous tendencies of the weaker aspects of our own personality.
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