They were raw and direct insights like these that caused Schopenhauer to have such a salutary, disruptive role in my formation, finally leading me conceptually from the confines of the monotheistic mythology that had had such a stranglehold on my mind, and leading to the vast infinite possibilities of don’t-know, which I would only obtain the tools for after encountering the teachings of Dae Soen Sa Nim in 1988/89. As he says, in The World as Will and Representation, “For the necessary starting point for all genuine philosophy is the deep feeling of the Socratic: ‘This one thing I know, that I know nothing.’”
“There is only one inborn error, and that is, that we exist in order to be happy,” he writes in the same text. “Suffering is essential to life, and therefore does not flow in upon us from outside, but everyone carries around within himself its perennial source.” (The World as Will and Representation)
This is the very departure point of the Buddha’s total biopsy of the human condition: “Existence is dukkha“, or “unsatisfactoriness.”
Of course, though I feel a deeply personal eternal gratitude to Schopenhauer, and feel that so much of what he saw about the universe were things I had already seen without having the words to describe them, until meeting him and Emerson and Mahler, his views on women were typical for his day, and I am ashamed of them. He had a really, really bad relationship with his mother, who sounds like a very narcissistic creature who harmed him badly, as human beings do.
In most other respects, he is one of my truest teachers.
This comic reflects his similarity to the Buddha’s teachings (on the nature of desire being the root of all suffering, this blind “will to live”), and yet how Schopenhauer’s is still very much just a “conceptual” insight. He can still kick a woman down the stairs for disturbing his intellectual “meditations” on the nature of the universe. A great mistake in the practice, to say the least.