Out of Joint? Around Slavoj Žižek’s Thoughts on the Primordial Disturbance in Buddhism
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In his book, The Fragile Absolute, in the chapter “Why Is the Truth Monstrous?”, Slavoj Žižek discusses Buddhism. Specifically, he claims that Buddhists have always found it difficult to explain, “how is it that the primordial was disturbed, and that desire emerged; that living beings got caught up in the wheel of karma, of attachment to false reality?” (2000. The Fragile Absolute, London: Verso, 73). Ultimately, Žižek suggests that in Buddhism “this fall into perversion is original, the original monstrous cut/excess, and the opposition between nirvana and desire for false appearances is there to conceal this monstrosity” (ibid. 74). Notwithstanding, in his singular views on Buddhism, Žižek does raise the question concerning the source of samsara, the source of cyclic existence, which he explains by using the concept of primordial disturbance that falls into perver-sion. This article discusses this Žižek’s concept and confronts it with the Buddhist un-derstanding of the source, causes, and the mode of emergence of cyclic existence.
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