First Advisor

Monica Mueller

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Philosophy and University Honors






Phenomenology -- Moral and ethical aspects, Zen Buddhism -- Moral and ethical aspects, Despair, Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) -- Criticism and interpretation, Nishida Kitarō (1870-1945) -- Criticism and interpretation, Transcendence (Philosophy)




Sustained ethical action is needed now more than ever, and the attitude that Western phenomenology and Buddhist meditation practices employ in investigating experience is important for creating such action. Through investigation, one can experience a nondual Reality, which in turn can lead to embodied ethical action in light of that experience. By focusing on how there is an “arc of practice” through which one encounters Reality and transforms their action, the importance of investigating experience can be seen. The two investigative practices used in this thesis are helpful for reconnecting the practitioner to their true-nature, which is loving and virtuous, and this happens through transcendental experiences and their continued embodiment. By analyzing the philosophies of Heidegger and Nishida Kitarō, one can gain a sense of the possibility of this sort of nondual encounter with existence. By drawing out the contours of that discussion, the importance of embodying the nondual experience in every day (dual) life becomes more apparent. Such experiences have a profound capability to transform the practitioner in a loving and virtuous manner, but there are difficulties when attempting to change one’s relationship to experience and some of these difficulties will be looked at. Specifically, issues regarding rhetoric and discussion regarding these experiences are of importance, as they tend to create confusion and delusion in non-practitioners. Emphasizing action taken in light of these experiences is relevant for the ethical crises the modern world faces and dealing with them in a loving and virtuous manner.


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