[Buddha-l] Koheleth

Franz Metcalf franz at mind2mind.net
Sun Jun 13 17:19:19 MDT 2010


Gary, I too am amazed the book is canonical. I suppose it's the last  
few verses that snuck it in, but they are (at least to my eyes)  
transparently the interpolation of another author;

Dan, Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi is onto something with the "Daoist"  
comment. I have, open on my desk, a copy of Rami Shapiro's _The Way of  
Solomon_ <http://tinyurl.com/268oo3y>, a translation of and commentary  
on Koheleth/Ecclesiastes. Shapiro translates its first two verses this  

    Emptiness! Emptiness upon emptiness!
    The world is fleeting of form,
    empty of permanence,
    void of surety,
    without certainty.
    Like a breath breathed once and gone,
    all things rise and fall.
    Understand emptiness, and tranquility replaces anxiety.
    Understand emptiness, and compassion replaces jealousy.
    Understand emptiness, and you will cease to excuse
       suffering and begin to alleviate it.

Schachter-Shalomi, who was one of Shapiro's teachers, may read the  
book as Daoist, but in Shapiro's hands it is clearly Buddhish (sic),  
as we can read above. In any case, it remains emphatically Jewish,  
and, as Dan's etymological gloss showed, that Jewish insight into  
hevel is not at all far from the Buddhist insight into śūnyatā.  
Indeed, Koheleth would tell us the time we waste in distinguishing  
them is itself hevel.


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