Amor Fati and the Path of Devotion - Love Of Fate

On March 19 2015, at the Institute for Science and Art in Vienna, Geoffrey Ashton, assistant professor at the philosophy department of the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) in the USA, has delivered an interesting lecture of philosophy about Amor Fati and the Path of Devotion: A Nietzschean Reading of Chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gītā.

Amor fati is a Latin phrase that may be loosely translated as “love of fate” or “love of one’s fate”. It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one’s life, including suffering and loss, as good or, at the very least, necessary, in that they are among the facts of one’s life and existence, so they are always necessarily there whether one likes them or not. Moreover, amor fati is characterized by an acceptance of the events or situations that occur in one’s life. This acceptance does not necessarily preclude an attempt at change or improvement, but rather, it can be seen to be along the lines of what Nietzsche means by the concept of “eternal recurrence”: a sense of contentment with one’s life and an acceptance of it, such that one could live exactly the same life, in all its minute details, over and over for all eternity.

20150319_195918The lecture Summary: If one of Kṛṣṇa’s basic concerns in the Bhagavad Gītā is to get Arjuna to act according to his kṣatriya dharma (warrior duty), then what could be his rationale in revealing his divine form in Chapter 11—particularly given that the events it discloses re-enact the terror that stifle Arjuna’s will to act in the first place? Furthermore, what, if anything, does the path of devotion (bhakti yoga) have to do with Arjuna’s recovery from this second crisis of will in the Gītā? This project argues that Kṛṣṇa reveals the impending destruction of the world (through the theophany) in order to help Arjuna to love a potentially repellent fate with Nietzschean-like, “yes-saying pathos.” The chapters immediately preceding and following the theophany clarify the architecture of circumstance or fate (Sanskrit, “prakṛti”) à la the theistic metaphysics of the early Sāṃkhya doctrine. The events of Chapter 11 and its emphasis on bhakti yoga are to be understood in this philosophical context.

Devotion to Kṛṣṇa helps Arjuna to re-embody not just his limited physical body, but his entire situation qua empathic identification with the cosmic body of Kṛṣṇa. By taking on the body of the world as his own, Kṛṣṇa provides Arjuna with an anchor for his love of his present circumstance—for Kṛṣṇa’s theophany reveals that he is immanent in the manifest world itself, while his disclosure of bhakti yoga (the path of devotion) urges Arjuna to love that world (i.e., his present fate) insofar as the phenomenal field is the body of Kṛṣṇa himself. Through this, Arjuna is able to love his fate in a manner not unlike what Nietzsche describes in his account of amor fati, wherein the agent loves his fate not by virtue of its measure of beauty (and hence its value). Rather, amor fati (and bhakti yoga) generates love for the world through the power of the agent, who finds value in the object (in this case: Arjuna’s fate) by virtue of his loving it. With respect to the terrifying experience of the theophany, in particular, Kṛṣṇa, by manifesting himself as Arjuna’s circumstance and disclosing the path of devotion to the divine, can be seen as developing Arjuna’s capacity to love a potentially repellent object (his fate) in full awareness that his love will not modify his fate.

3 comments to Amor Fati and the Path of Devotion – Love Of Fate

  • Doug

    To understand Bhagavad Gita and avoid endless speculative conclusions, it’s best to study it from a maser of Bhakti yoga, someone who lives the tenants of the text.The Gita that realy opened up the portal to Bhakti for me was Bhagavad Gita As It Is by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.I highly recommend it.

  • maybeperfect

    It might be possible that everything is and always has been perfect, in every essential sense, regardless of our apparent capacity to be conscious of the concept. I mean, what’s the sense of being God if you can’t manifest your will in your life(lives,) so what’s not to love? God might be the only one who knows what we really want, and we may be given it(or had it manifested in us) whether we know whether we are or not. What’s not to love?
    Apparently, God is accomplishing whatever is necessary to maintain infinite existence. What’s not to love?
    Our sole regret, could we be said to have one, might be that we are incapable of being adequately grateful, and that if there is such a thing as a mistake, that we might have failed to live up to the role we have been asked to play within the apparently infinitely magnificent majesty of it all, defying human description. What’s not to love?
    For “me,” the question seems, which attributes of the creator might I strive to emulate? But then, I suppose it might depend on who I am at the end of the day. Or perhaps I should say who we all are at the end of the day.

  • Afshin Nejat

    It is not possible to reconcile this form of simple pantheistic monism with the moral requirements of ethical dualism, which states that Good and evil are distinct and irreconcilable. If you claim that evil beings “are god, too”, and that their victims “are god, too”, then you have god murdering god, raping god, devouring god, putting god through hell. Why? But this behavior exists, and is “part of the universe”, so why is it that Yoga doesn’t actually condone it?

    The truth is that this sort of monism is a metaphysical “paper tiger” and has no logical or moral power. What is real is the conflict between Good and evil, and evil cannot be treated as equally divine, or really even at all divine. Divinity has the moral high ground only insofar as it is capable of destroying this cancer within itself, so if Yoga is to applied to anyone, it is to applied to the “God” which has yet to embody HIS duty to destroy evil and live up to the characteristics which make “Divinity” a noble title.

    But the whole interpretation of Krishna’s teaching to Arjuna is long ago distorted into a false picture of what is truly being taught. Krishna is explaining to Arjuna precisely this: Take up arms against evil, do your duty, stop complaining about how horrible the battle is, take the side of righteousness and avoid fleshly concerns which destroy the moral senses in favor of the physically entrained bodily senses.

    Gnostic interpretations of religion are the only way to properly reinvigorate them into a meaningful teaching for humans with any moral and cognitive relevance going beyond mere Machiavellian pragmatism.

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