Posted by: Rajesh Shukla | May 26, 2010

The way to do is to be

Despite being a materialist Marx never advocated radical hedonism. He was a great spiritualist like many great beings. His spiritualism does not come from the Other but from his humanism yet there is no difference with great beings. On the ground of being’s fate, in him and in great sages there is no difference. “he who departs from here without knowing the self is an animal’ Upanishad says and Marx too echos the similar phrase. He says “The less you ARE and the less you express of your life–the more you HAVE and greater is your alienated life”. Emphasis is not on HAVE but on ‘to be’ i.e. on fulfillment of life; which is the only way to be happy. As Lao-tse…says ‘the way to do is to be’. One should fulfill oneself, one should realize oneself. The goal of life is not the possession of things but the realization of Being. From Vedic time sages are teaching us the same thing that ‘न वित्तेन तर्पणीयो मनुष्यो’ and pursuing us to go for higher things in life.

Once in a speech D.T Suzuki read two poems (given below) to show the difference in between two modes of existing i.e. existing through ‘having’ and existing through ‘to be’.

Flower is a crannied wall,
I will pluck you out of the crannies
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand
Little flower—but I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all
I should know what God and man is.
—Lord Tennyson
[Tennyson want to have it, plucks it ‘root and all’]

When I look carefully
I see the nazuna blooming
By the hedge!

[Basho simply looks it with admiration and praise; he is amazed with its wild appearance that people usually don’t see]

Why is this difference in the world views? because Tennyson is a product of bourgeois society and Bosho is a vagabond spiritualist -a zen monk, a great lover of life. Tennyson want to posses it ‘with all its roots’ though for knowledge sake while Bosho is even not interested in knowing. We can compare Bosho only with Goethe who had similar kind of world view. Goethe’s Faust is a description of conflict between ‘having’ and ‘being’.

Goethe writes :
I know that nothing belongs to me
but the thought which is unimpeded
from my soul will flow.
And every favorable moment
which loving fate
from the depth let me enjoy.

This view of life is not centered around ‘Thing’ but around ‘Being’. Marx loved Goethe because of this, he too advocated that life is not for things but things are for life. In bourgeois society life is sacrificed for things, things are above the Being. Man is nothing, he himself has been converted into a thing. Marx hopes for a society that is not centered in property and greed, a society free from the concept of ‘being through having’ is called Communism in which Being is completely free to pursue its ‘Is-ness’. Marx criticized Bourgeois society for its separating tendency,it separates man from family and society, it separates men from his being, it separates love as if love is separate being from man, as if love is an independent entity and then it becomes nostalgic about it. Since love is separated from man, man lacks it and it is fulfilled by market. There are industries of love and romance. Marx idea of life and progress is very spiritual, its a kind of sublime yet to be experienced. Marx did not say that progress means market, progress of industry and science, for him these are just a manifestation of human beings engaged in their self-realization; its not the goal of life. In capitalism capital is the goal of life, industrial expansion and scientific production is goal, human beings are just a living machines in the achievement of these goals. GOAL OF CAPITALIST MEN IS-PRODUCTION OF CAPITAL. According to him in communism the use of wealth (until it ceases to be) won’t be the generation of further wealth but to provide people the condition of living in which they could manifest their creative potentialities. Which is why we say Communism is the real beginning of history.




  1. Thanks , very Interesting article. Did not know that Marx was such a great spiritualist but after reading this article i am convinced. Marx idea of progress is really fascinating.

  2. rajesh, a very thought-provoking post. i especially like this line:

    “Marx did not say that progress means market, progress of industry and science, for him these are just a manifestation of human beings engaged in their self-realization; its not the goal of life.”

    This provides a nice summary. When each of us is fully leveraging our potential, utilising our gifts and talents, and complementing that in our day to life, we will strive towards self-actualisation (and in the process achieve both individual progress and social progress).

    This is as you said the opposite of the capitalist set up, where the material goal is an elusive target and a person
    just becomes a machination to achieve those means. This is not sustainable and may have long-term repercussions especially as it makes the individual just a cog in the wheel.

    an interesting read!

  3. Found this article searching for that specific Goethe comment , as I remembered it , and made a google search .

    Shared this article with a friend in facebook . (24th June, 2011)

    Blessings ❤

    Jouni Sakari

    • I have shared this again for the same reason .

      Blessings ❤ , JS

  4. I love it. It contains high form of spiritualism. Marcantile capitalism has converted everything means to accumulation. everything, even sublime aspect of human are just a means for market and money creation. It is shit. —————

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: