Fight Club Is A Buddhism (an essay i wrote a year ago)
“If you are reading this, then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this is useless fine print… is another second off your life. Don't you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can't think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all who claim it? Do you read everything you're supposed to read? Do you think everything you're supposed to think? Buy what you're told you should want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping . Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you're alive. If you don't claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned.”
【摘要】 这篇论文论证了大卫芬奇的电影搏击俱乐部是一部佛教电影。不幸的是，我很难从现成的资料中找到任何将这两者联系在一起的文章，所以我也很难把这篇论文Goolge出来。正如电影中，杰克以自己作为老师一样，我所做的也正是力图依靠自己来寻找真理，而不是去复制他人的观点，何况并没有这样的观点可以让我去借鉴。 佛祖为了不让弟子们执着于他的说教，说他在金刚经中一个字都没说过。 幸运的是，在我的研究过程中，我也没有任何说教可以让我去执迷，这使得我能够自由地表达出自己的观点。我阅读了“心经”, “四真谛”，“三法印”等佛教典籍。在对佛教哲理有一个较深刻的认识之后，我不厌其烦地反复观看搏击俱乐部，几乎对于电影中的每一个细节，每句话都做了研究。激励我继续下去的是在观影过程中，我不停地找到了很多具有佛教象征意义的情节。在此基础上，我尝试着对电影做一番整体的研究。惊喜地发现搏击俱乐部竟然就像佛教“三法印”的电影版本。我发现，泰勒在电影中的说教都是关于无常和无我的，而正是因为对于生命的无常有了深刻的认识，并做到了无我，杰克进入了涅盘的境界。而对于禅宗公案的研究，让我更好的理解了电影中几个重要场景的佛教哲理。这不仅仅只是费尽心思去寻找相似点并试图把这部电影套进任何理论中去。简而言之，这篇论文证明了搏击俱乐部和佛教之间在思想上最本质的相同之处。搏击俱乐部是由无数图片组成的，而我的文章只不过是由几千个英文单词组成。别费神去寻找太多的意义了，更别去执迷于它们。我只是做了一件事情，并不企图得到任何结论和成果。
【关键词】 佛教 无我 无常 涅盘 佛法
【Abstract】 This paper connects Buddhism with the experience of viewing David Fincher’s movie Fight Club. To be precise, it’s an interpretation of Fight Club as a Buddhist movie. Unfortunately, there are few profound analyses about this specific subject, and therefore there is no possibility for me to simply goggle my dissertation paper out. In the movie, Jack is his own master. What I am doing in my paper is to find the truth by myself, instead of plagiarizing ideas of others. The Buddha said in the Diamond Sutra that in his whole teaching career he never spoke a single word. He said so to prevent his disciples from attaching to his words. Unfortunately, during my long-term research, I don’t have “words” to attach, which makes it possible for me to make my paper totally original. To do this research first requires understanding the basic Dharma sutras. Heart Sutra, the Four Noble Truths, and Three Seals of the Dharma, to name a few. With a good insight of Buddhist wisdom, I watched the movie for dozens of times, investigating every single detail of the movie. By analyzing the movie as a whole, I found it’s actually a teaching of The Three Seals of Dharma, the quintessence of Buddhism. Besides that, I find tons of similarities between Zen khans and plot. In the movie, Tyler’s teachings are mostly about the law of impermanence and non-self. With an insight of impermanence of life and a state of Non-self, Jack enters the realm of Nirvana. It’s not a process of collecting coincidences, by doing which I can take Fight Club to anything. This movie is composed of thousands of pictures, and my paper consists of thousands of words. I’m not going to make too much of them both. See them the way they are, and do not attach.
【Key Words】 Buddhism Non-self Impermanence Nirvana Dharma
Teachings of Buddhism in the Movie Fight Club
1.1 About the Movie
Ironically, in highly commercialized Hollywood, some producers will make Buddha-Themed movie regardless of the profit. The Golden Child, , Jacob's Ladde, Kundun, Sever Years in Tibet, The cup, The Matrix, to name a few. Disappointingly, there are few profound analyses of Fight Club as Buddhist movie.
Adapted from Chuck Palahniuk’s mind-blowing bestseller with the same name, David Fincher’s Fight Club is probably the most controversial movie of 1990s. Its hardcore fans regard it as the New Holy Bible, whereas moralists, most of who fail or reluctant to see deep into the movie, hate its gut. MPAA banned the movie three weeks after it stirring release, which caused great demonstration in some American Cities. 21 Century Fox felt so depressed that a movie starred by superstars Brad Pitt and Edward Northon caused them great loss. Surprisingly, Fight Club ruled in the DVD market, which made it one of the greatest “Cult Movies” of the movie history. Chicago Sun Times’ Roger Albert even considers it as a “Macho Porn”, while I say Fight Club is the Dharma Sutra of movie version. Fight Club is by no means the movie that has greatest influence on me. After several watchings, I got addicted to it. It’s a movie that gives you everything you want from a movie.
1.2Buddhist Teachings in Fight Club
The foremost thing I love about it is the fact that, under the veil of a Hollywood gore movie, it actually tells a Buddhist story with a superb cinematic skill. Fight Club is “a path to enlightenment through the ‘destruction of the temple”.(Chuck Palahniuk) This paper is to analyze Fight Club as a Buddhist movie with The Three Seals of the Dharma. In my interpretation, Fight Club is telling a story about a man’s pursuit of ultimate freedom through the destruction of his false-self. A lot of movie goers are at a loss in the end of the movie. They are wondering: “ now what? What will happen to Jack next?” My answer is, nothing is supposed to happen. He has already enters the realm of Nirvana.
2.Plotline of Fight Club
Jack, an employee of a major car company, lives a typical bourgeois life. Exhausted by the perceived futility of his life and desperately seeking something authentic, something that will offer him release. Emasculated by a job where he has no power, a lifestyle that enslaves him to consumer impulse, and with no close relationships to other human beings, he initially finds some temporary solace in "Remaining Men Together," a support group for men with testicular cancer, men who embody his emasculation in a physically tangible way. (Sandie Gravet) he finds his temporary freedom, and can fall asleep naturally again until a “chick” called Marla Singer, the heroine of the Movie, appears in the support groups. Jack leaves the support group. In one of his business trip, he encounters Tyler Durden on a plane. Jack moves to Tyler’s place after his condo is blown off. He sets up a fight club with Tyler and later resigns from his job. After fighting, Jack feels the great freedom and joy he never experienced before and gets addicted to it just like his dependence on those dying people’s support groups. As an increasing number of people joins fight club and Tyler decides to build an army for his “Project Mayhem”. One raining night after fighting, Jack gets very pissed off for he is totally unaware of Tyler’s plan. Tyler inveighs against Jack’s desire for controlling everything, and later lets the car float on the highway. The car falls into a valley, but they are unhurt. After that, Tyler leaves, setting up franchises in other cities. Jack goes to every city Tyler has been and meets Tyler in a hotel. Jack feels astounded that Tyler and he is exactly the same person. Jack tries his best to stop the Project Mayhem. By shooting at himself, he kills Tyler, but fails to prevent the explosions of the city’s major buildings. Jack and Marla watches the collapse of the buildings hands in hands.
3.Three Seals of the Dharma in Fight Club
This part is to analyze Fight Club with Three Seals of the Dharma. There are three aspects of The Three Seals of the Dharma: all things are impermanent; all things lack inherent existence (non-self),;and that nirvana is perfect quiesence .Three seals of Dharma come from the Lotus Sutra, and it’s the Buddha’s most important teaching about Buddhism.
3.1 Teachings of Impermanence in Fight Club
“You wake up at SeaTac, SFO. LAX. You wake up at O'Hare. Dallas Fort Worth. BWI. Lose an hour. Gain an hour. This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time. You wake up at Air Harbor International. If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?”
What’s Jack talking about? Interestingly, Jack’s words are about impermanence. Buddha said: “all that is subject to arising is subject to ceasing; it is impermanent and not self… So don’t attach, don’t be deluded by what arises and ceases.” It’s the Buddha’s teaching about the law of impermanence. According to the teachings of the Buddha, life is comparable to a river. It is a progressive moment, a successive series of different moments, joining together to give the impression of one continuous flow. It moves from cause to cause, effect to effect, one point to another, one state of existence to another, giving an outward impression that it is one continuous and unified movement, where as in reality it is not. The river of this moment is not going to be the same as the river of the next moment. So does life. It changes continuously, becomes something or the other from moment to moment.
Consequently,it is a fallacy to believe that a person would remain the same person during his entire life time. He actually lives and dies but for a moment, or lives and dies moment by moment, as each moment leads to the next. That’s why Jack says his life is ending one minute at a time. Zen playfulness arises from the realization of every moment being both a joyful moment of life and a moment of death. In fact, Jack mentions “Impermanence” when he leaves support group one night, and his voice over goes: “every evening I died, every evening I was born again”. In Buddhist philosophy, not only a man’s life consists of infinite lives during his life-time, but also there is a vicious circle of rebirth. By gaining an insight of the impermanence of life and be non-self, one can end this circle and get ultimate freedom. Buddhism believes that a person is what he is in the context of the time in which he exists. It is an illusion to believe that the person you have seen just now is the same as the person you are just now seeing or the person whom you are seeing now will be the same as the person you will see after a few moments. Jack is slowly learning the truth of impermanence underconsciously, and that why he was wandering whether he would wake up as a different person.
Buddhism declares that in this world there is nothing that is fixed and permanent. Every thing is subject to change and alteration. Decay is inherent in all component things. Tyler expresses the same meaning to the Project Mayhem members in another way in the movie: “Listen up, maggots. You’re not special. You’re not beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else…We are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world. We’re all part of the compost heap.” In this part, Tyler teaches the fact of impermanence in order to help the PM member build an insight of non-self. He makes them understand that everybody is supposed to die and decay as everything else. He says those PM members are none other than part of the compost heap. To understand Tyler’s words, we need to know Buddhist’s theory of impermanence. According to Buddhism, Everything is composed of “five heaps”, the collection of the five compositional elements of our existence. All existence, including us, lie in the relationship of five heaps. And every heap arises and extincts subjecting to the principle of cause and effect at every moment. Everything in the universe, mental or physical, inside or outside of us, real or imaginary, that comes into being due to causes and conditions can not exist without depending on other things. Consequently, there is no permanent existence. Instead of telling people what they should do, the Third Noble Truth conveys a fact that everything is impermanent and helps the disciple to gain an insight of impermanence. Tyler’s words have the same effect. To reveal that all the existences are intrinsically the same under the law of impermanence, he “degrades” the members into part of compost heap. With the insight of the sameness of the world, those members are likely to let go of there ego-self.
The law of impermanence is Tyler’s important teaching in the movie. He tells that the never-sink Titanic is all going down in the bar, and when Jack lost one of his teeth, he tells Jack that even the Mona Lisa is falling apart. He dose not tell Jack not to attach to his tooth, he is just telling the truth of life. Jack simply can not argue with that. Why the teaching of impermanence is so important in Tyler’s teaching? It’s because only by the understanding of the law of impermanence, can his disciples realize that there is no permanent self to attach and gradually involve themselves in the non-self state.
3.2 Teachings of Non-Self in Fight Club
3.2.1Buddhist Definition of Non-Self
Non-Self does not mean that entities as they are commonly perceived do not exist; it means that the concept of "self" has no referent which has absolutely independent existence according to the law of impermanence.(Yutang Lin) The body is mistakenly taken as one’s self, and the unenlightened one’s attachment this false-self makes him suffer. Only by abandoning this inexistent false-self can one get liberated. Therefore, we usually talk about impermanence and non-self together. Tyler’s teachings of impermanence of non-self always come with the teaching of non-self. In last chapter, to state what impermanence is clearly, I intentionally split impermanence and non-self apart. Whereas, I shall analyze them as a whole in this part,
3.2.2 Self-Destruction in Fight Club
Self-improvement is masturbation, now self-destruction.
In order to escape from the harsh reality, Jack comforts himself in the support group with a fake-name, a symbol of his false-self, before Jack begins his self-destruction in Fight Club His addiction to being a faker symbolizes his attachment to his false-self. After that, he starts a spiritual journey in fight club.The all-men fight club represents a Buddhist temple, and the voluntary self-fighting symbolizes the non-self of Buddhism. Katakana said: “The Buddha’s disciples praise utter self-extinction ( the analog of self-destruction) as the highest bliss of Nirvana.” (Paul Carus)Any breaking of the attachments to the body must begin by breaking the attachment to the commonly held belief that the body is me, that I am my body.( Ronald Epstein) Chuck Palahniuk ingeniously uses the destruction of the body to symbolize the non-self in Buddhism.
Fighting is a member’s way of meditation. Even the monk of sudden enlightenment school needs a normal practice to meditate. During the process of fighting, those members feel really lighten up without the burden of the body. Looking at the members’ ecstatic countenance after fights, we see a temporary state of Nirvana. Fight Club only exists in the hours between when Fight Club starts and ends. They temporarily find back what their true-self back by the destruction of the body, but out of the fight club, they return back to what they used to be. Jack says who you were in fight club is not who you were in the rest of the world. That is just like a monk’s gain and loss of his enlightenment during his daily meditation.
In Buddhism, the loss of one’s identity reflects its sameness theory. In the movie, Tyler and Jack test the applicants’ resolution by torturing them both physically and mentally. Chuck Palahniuk points out that it looks like the Buddhist way of accepting neophytes. Torture ritual serves as the first process of the denying of the applicants’ identities. Anyone passing the test can get into the collapsing house, a symbol of the Buddhist temple. It’s a practice of ignoring the body for the applicants. New members are required to wear exactly the same clothes and have their head shaved like a monk, which makes them looks similar. Jack says he becomes the little center of the universe, and he is the Zen master when he is blushing his bloody teeth. What makes it possible for him to be the center of the universe? Anyone who has a right insight of the impermanence of life shall realize the sameness of living things in the universe. Since every existence is the same, everything can be the center. A recognition of sameness helps to let go of his ego-self. Buddha says: “All compound things are transitory: they grow and they decay. All compound things are subject to pain: they will be separated from what they love and be joined to what they abhor.” In this sense, all men are the same, and with this recognition, we shall have great compassion for others instead of caring too much about ourselves. Buddha says “Practice the truth that thy brother is the same as thou” (Yutang Lin), while Tyler wears out “you’re not special” with the same wisdom. It’s the second step of non-identity. Tyler calls bald-headed a space monkey who is ready to sacrifice himself for greater good (enlightenment). When Jack meets Tyler in the hotel, he finds Tyler has had his head shaved. From this moment, Jack knows that Tyler and he are exactly the same person. Head-shaving represents that Jack is one step away from enlightenment. In fact, no one knows what Jack’s real name is in the movie, and all of the PM members are not supposed to have names. It’s a loss of identity that symbolizes non-self.
Jack says he feels like destroying something beautiful after he terribly squashes “Angel Face” in one fight. This scene looks like a ritual of enlightenment. In the movie, only two men are “perfect”: Tyler and “Angel Face”. “Angel Face” represents an illusion of being perfection (false self), an inexistent state. Remember what Tyler says in the bar? “I say, never be complete, I say, stop being perfect, I say, let’s evolve. Let the chips fall where they may.” His words are surprisingly similar with the three important tenets of Zen Buddhism: All things are impermanent. All things are imperfect.All things are incomplete.Tyler symbolizes Jack’s Buddha-nature in a certain sense. He represents the Buddhahood Jack wants to attain. Nonetheless, the moment Jack ascertains that he gets attached to it, he kills this “Buddha” as he destroys “Angel Face”.Tyler’s words implies a wisdom of letting go of delusion of perfection. The disfigurement of “Angel Face” shows that nothing is permanent and perfect in this mortal world. Through the destruction of delusion of perfection, Jack tries to break away from his false-self.
3.2.3Shock Treatment as a Way of Non-Self Teaching
188.8.131.52 Chemical Burn as a Way of Shocking Jack into Enlightenment
One night, Tyler and Jack go to a liposunction clinic. They steal several bags of human fat and go back home to make soap. During the soap-making, Tyler pours lye on Jack’s hand, causing the worst pain Jack ever experiences. Jack feels so astounded that his mate’s sudden “atrocity” . Tyler, Fight Club’s “Lin Chi Master”, keeps slapping at Jack’s face ,trying to use “shock treatment” to beat his disciple into enlightenment.
Buddhism is leading a state of nothingness, and therefore a wordless mind-to-mind communication is needed in the teaching Lin Chi developed a new way of silent teaching-- shock treatment. Through various unconventional means, including shouting, beating, paradox, and personally driven reinterpretations of classical Mahayana Buddhist scripture, Lin-chi sought to wake his students from their clumsy slumber.( Scott Mandelker) Usually, if his disciple came to him asking what is Dharma, he most probably would yell at him. He believed that the essential Way of liberation could not be found in any state, the teacher must undercut all forms of grasping in the student's mind — grasping at form, feelings, opinions, stillness, energy conditions, and supersensible states. ( Scott Mandelker) So Lin-chi had to cut through all that his disciples brought him, and most certainly, their understanding of Buddhism, coming as it did from conceptual process, and not liberation itself.
Tyler’s “Chemical Burn” equals Lin Chi’s yelling. During Jack’s “premature enlightenment”, Tyler keeps slapping at his face, yelling at him, and succeeds in entirely disrupting Jack’s rational thought and making the mind jump the tracks that normally confine it. The principal point, however, is that when one is the recipient of a sudden violence( yelling, sitck), one experiences it immediately, inescapably, without the slightest interval during which intellection or volition might interpose themselves. It is this quality of the immediacy of the experience that Tyler is endeavoring to convey to Jack, urging him to experience the content of enlightenment in the same sudden and immediate manner. Under this circumstance, Tyler begins his teaching about impermanence.
Tyler encourages Jack to abandon his societal moorings altogether with the following logic: Our fathers are our models for God. We are God's unwanted children. So be it! Tyler asks him to accept the fact that he can not get resurrected by identifying himself by any figure. After Tyler’s sport-fuck with Marla (actually, Jack fucks Marla), Jack says he is enlightened. Is he really enlightened? Marla appears in Jack’s cave and replaces the penguin as his power animal. To explain this, we need to investigate the social environment of that period. Jack takes himself as a thirty-year-old child, because the absence of his father means his development of growing up could not proceed normally. While Freud held that "in the case of the father's absence or failure to take up the symbolic function, other authority figures - the teacher, headmaster, policeman, or ultimately God - may take his place in instilling in the child the sense of lawfulness and willing submission to social customs," such a replacement never happens here, Jack takes furniture to fulfill the vacuum created by the absence of his father at first, to find that he can not be complete by doing that. The possession of Marla’s body becomes the key to identity as well as social, cultural and sexual power for him. The possession of Marla’s body is similar with his clinging to the worldly possessions, a way of defining himself as a person. He thinks he has been fully realized as a man after he can perform sexually. In another word, he has an allusion of being completed after having sex with Marla. Form this point of view, he is not really enlightened.
Tyler’s “sacrifice” means non-self here, and he says so to encourage Jack to totally forget about his ego-self. The Buddha says: "Greater than the immolation of bullocks is the sacrifice of self. Tyler warns Jack not to use water to make his pain worse, but to use vinegar to neutralize it. According to the Noble Truth of the cessation of suffering, to allow this process of cessation to work, we must be willing to suffering. We have to open our minds to suffering because it’s in embracing suffering that suffering ceases. We open completely to it, welcome it, and concentrate on it, allowing it to be what it is. We have to endure boredom, despair, doubt and fear in order to understand that they cease rather than running away from them. (Venn Ajahn Somehow, The Four Noble Truth, P 41)So Tyler asked Jack not to shut the pain out. He gets very pissed off for he knows Jack is not concentrating on his pain but is at somewhere else missing. Tyler wants Jack to know that someday Jack is going to die. He has no possibility of escaping of the process of dying in this world of impermanence. He then tells Jack that it only when he loses everything, he is free to do anything. To express the similar meaning, Tyler encourages “hitting bottom”. Losing everything means liberation from the attachment to impermanent things, and it leads to a state of emptiness—a state of non-self.
According to the theory of sudden enlightenment school, Jack is born with his Buddha-nature, whereas it’s inactive, because he is disillusioned by his mortal-nature. It’s really a difficult process for him to be liberated from his mortal-nature, for his mind has been terribly deluded by the ignorance. What Tyler dose is to hit him into enlightenment like those masters of Lin Chi School? Like a man suffering from paralysis is likely to stand up again under emergency conditions, Jack gets his pre-mature enlightenment and is one step closer to “hitting bottom” (non-self) under Tyler’s abrupt “Lin–Chi” kind of attack.
184.108.40.206 Imitating Death as a Path to Enlightenment
One night, Tyler points a gun at a convenience store clerk called Raymond. Raymond feels so frightened that he can not figure out what to do. Under the sudden shock, He can scarcely answer what kind of person he wants to be. Raymond lives life he dose not like, what’s more, he dose not know what kind of person he want to be. Tyler’s death threat gives the deluded convenience store clerk a process of imitating death.
Imitating death is Bodhidharma’s method of Buddhist teaching. Under his instruction, a parrot lies down imitating death, and finally frees himself from the cage. Bodhidharma gave this teaching for permanently transcending the life-death cycle. Nirvana means the termination of the vicious circle of rebirth. Jack tries to imitate death with those dying people, to find him completely gets addicted to it. This time, he gives another shock treatment lesson about imitating death to Raymond. After a harsh dispute with Jack, Marla leaves the house singing “gotta to get off this merry-go-round” .Chuck is definitely comparing a revolving circular platform to the vicious circle of rebirth. In fact, Marla is by far the person who stands nearest to the door of enlightenment. It’s she that tells Jack to slide (let go). Her philosophy is that she might die at any moment (she lives in the death), and Tyler assumes her as a person who really tries to hit bottom. After her depressing relation with Jack, she is gradually gaining an insight of leaving everything behind.
One should lay down everything with which one's body is burdened, thus becoming exactly like a dead man. The outcome will be that sense-organs, sense-data, and consciousness will vanish and that greed, anger, stupidity and love will be eliminated. When all concurrent causes have been laid down, false thinking will vanish with the non-arising of a single thought; the brightness of one's own nature will appear in full (Luck, trans., Chan and Zen Teachings, Series One, p. 20).
Raymond represents those ignorant modern people floating with the flux of life, caring to much about unimportant things, feeling constrained to do anything they want to do. By playing dead, Raymond becomes completely indifferent to his situation and to the demands of his body, and is freed from the bonds of coarse physical existence and become free to try his best to become a vet. The process leading to the death of self and, therefore, to enlightenment is the moment by moment imitation of death. Death in this instance refers to a stopping of the ordinary, ongoing life processes which are governed by the self's evaluative clinging to the thoughts. Tyler calls Raymond “Forest”, a regard’s name in the movie “Forest Gump”. Tyler’s Joke implies that Raymond is now a free man like Forest.
In the “Suicidal Car” scene, Jack loses his temper because he is totally unaware of the project mayhem. Tyler really gets mad at Jack. He yelles at him,warning him especially forget about “you and me” Tyler’s hands leaves the wheel and forces Jack to answer what he feels about his life after knowing that he is going to die soon. Under the great pressure, Jack admits that his life is terrible, which shows that Jack has an insight of the suffering of life. However, it’s not good enough for Tyler. In Jack’s ceaseless introspection, he uses “vocation “ to express his experience in the support group, and now Tyler critisizes Jack for taking fight club as his “weekend retreat”. Jack’s relation with Marla reflects his relation with his desires. Marla is a dangerous creature who is to be avoided, mastered, or killed, and Jack tries all of the three approaches with her. At first, Jack believes that he can master his desire by getting things the wants, and than he tries to get rid of his desries by blowing up his condo. After both of the two methods fail, Jack sneaks into the support group to avoid his desire. ( Jack says it’s his vacation). Jack emphasises that it’s he and Tyler that sets up Fight Club. It looks like Fight Club is kind of his possession. Tyler reveals that fight club is Jack’s way of escaping from his desires. Jack’s desire for controling fight club shows his new attachment to it. Tyler says: “this does not belong to us. We are not special.” He continues : “forget about what you think you know about life, friendship, and especially about you and me.” Those words come as a summary of Tyler’s non-self teaching. At last, Tyler asks him to let go. Suffering comes from the clinging to the impermanent and therefore inexistent false-self, Letting go of the false-self means the achieved recognition of the inner man(true-self), the one who remains spotless and untouched by all phenomena, one regains the inner freedom that had been lost through Jack’s thirst for becoming ( complete) . What’s worth a mention is the non-name rule of Project Mayhem. In Project Mayhem, a man dose not has a name. Chuck uses the non-name to symbolize non-self in Buddhism. PM member can use their name again in death, which implies that by the destruction of the body, one can find his true-self back. However, all Tyler’s teaching is still nothing but concepts, and even Lin-chi's teaching of the "inner man" is only used to counteract our mistaken self-identification with body/mind process. In true liberation, there is no more talk of inner man or outer conditions. (Scott Mandelker) Tyler stops talking, and leaves the car floating on the road. The “suicidal car” becomes Tyler’s “vehicle” for silent teaching and meanwhile represents Jack’s detachment to his clinging to this impermanent life. Jack gets so terrified by Tyler’s shock treatment. Slide! The car falls down to the valley, but none of them gets hurt seriously. Tyler calls it a “near-life experience”. It looks like another imitating-death teaching. After the accident, Jack realizes that his life is none other than a statistic in his report, and it’s not true-self. He loses interest in that life which is associated with the gratifying of desires through the discrimination of the senses and of the intellect and ceases to obey the perceptual and cognitive habits that are the real vehicles of desire-gratification. The basis for ordinary perceptual and cognitive activity is destroyed and he enters Samadhi.
3.3. Teachings of Nirvana in Fight Club
3.3.1 The Buddhist Definition of Nirvana
Originally, nirvana meant total extinction of desire and suffering. Today it refers to the state of liberation through full enlightenment.
3.3.2. Killing the Buddha as a Way of Entering the Realm of Nirvana
“In the world I see, you’re stalking elk through the Grand Canyon Forests, around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You’ll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You’ll climb the thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower, and when you look down, you’ll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison in the empty car-pool lane of some abandoned superhighway.”
The Project Mayhem is to blow up credit companies and brings the world to primeval age like Tyler portrays in his prophesy. Tyler leaves after he says those words to Jack. He goes to every city to build up franchises of fight club for Project Mayhem. In his own words, we shall call him a fucker setting up franchises. Tyler says and he is god’s unwanted child, and he does not need his father, the model for god. Ironically, he is doing exactly what his father dose. He is so obsessed with his plan of destroying everything and he tries everything he could to make sure it can be brought out without any obstacle. Tyler wants to be complete the moment he is closest to Nirvana. Jack tries to stop the plan, to find Tyler has anticipated Jack’s interruption, and put everything under control. Tyler, who tells Jack to let go, is now trying to control everything. This symbolizes that Jack has great desire for being the Buddha, which stands in his path into Nirvana. In the top floor of the building, Tyler gets mad at Jack: “Has I ever let us down? How far you have come because of me?” Tyler is totally deluded by his grasping of his achievement of demolishing everything. Jack realizes that Tyler and he is actually the same person, hence he points the gun at his own head, in order to kill Tyler the Mara. For the first time, Tyler gets nervous about his life. “Hey, it’s you and me, friends?” I just can not believe this “you and me” shit comes from Tyler’s mouth. He is longing for being the Buddha, a desire which prevent him from being the Buddha. I look at Tyler’s eyes, and see fears. All of a sudden, he is not the guy freeing to do anything anymore.
Tyler symbolizes Jack’s Buddha-nature in the movie, but what we should especially careful about is that we are not supposed to take Tyler as Jack’s Buddha-nature. In some sense, Tyler’s is just the by-product of Jack’s inner-struggle. He could be the Buddha, and meanwhile he could be the Mara. In Buddhist theory, if you attach, Buddha becomes the Mara; and if you do not attach, Mara becomes the Buddha. In case Buddha becomes the Mara, we have to kill the Buddha.
Lin Chi Zen Master said, "If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha. If you meet a Patriarch, kill the Patriarch." How to understand this “strange” theory? The Buddha said in the Diamond Sutra that in his whole teaching career he never spoke a single word. He is to caution the disciples not to attach to his words. The Zen masters of Lin Chi school Even says the Master's words, no matter how clear, Compared to the jewel of true liberation, realization of essential freedom and the "true inner man," they're just shit. (Scott Mandelker).Hue Nan’s fourth generation disciple, Tina Ran Zen master, splits the idol of Buddha to make fire warming him in the winter. In his words, the idol is just deadwood. The attachment to being the Buddha is an obstacle to realize our own Buddha-hood. The moment Jack realizes that the gun is in his hand, he finds his true-nature back. Jack says his eyes open, and pulls the trigger without any fear a second later. What dose “my eyes are open” mean? Siddhartha Gateman (The Buddha) said to his enlightened disciples:"You are all Buddha’s .There is nothing you need to achieve. Just open your eyes." Jack’s words indicate that he has already gets enlightened at that moment. He put down everything and become the Buddha. As the buildings out of the window collapse down, Jack enters the realm of Nirvana.
With a deep Buddhism influence, “Voluntary Simplicity” is a way of life of an increasing number of westerners. Yogi brings Buddhist wisdom to western world in a more extensively way. Chuck lives a voluntary simple life, even he after he gets great profit from his novels. In Chuck’s words, people fear change because they became attached to externals and identify with them. His Fight Club severs like a lamp unto those lost western people.
To be enlightened, you are not necessarily to learn the esoteric Buddhist theory. A good understanding of the essential Buddhist philosophy and a right way of practice are the most important things. Fight Club is a combination of both the basic Buddha’s teachings and practice. The Third part of my paper is mainly based on the Three Seals of the Dharma. In my analysis, I relate the plot to Buddhist stories and important Zen master’s words, by doing which, my interpretation is more likely to be convincing and acceptable.
Like Buddha got enlightened under the Body tree without any instruction, Jack reaches enlightenment in a similar way. His master is his “imaginary friend”, Tyler Durden. Mr.Fincher means to make Jack a Siddhartha Gautama of western world. With tons of symbols in this movie, this movie is interpreted as a Buddhist teaching in an intense Fincher way.
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