Friday, May 11, 2007
Virginia Woolf and Buddhism
I have read and loved Woolf for 20+ years, but I never understood the influence of eastern religion on her writing. Now that I know something about Buddhism I see that To the Lighthouse is all about impermanence, trying to stay present, trying to be the island in the raging sea (which is both time, and our thoughts). I did some web research and found this article on Woolf and eastern "mystical" religions. Though she resisted acknowledging these influences, they clearly came to her through the strong interest within her circle (T.S. Eliot, for instance), through William James, and through Buddhist books she had in her library. According to the same article, she had mystical experiences during periods of nervous exhaustion, when she was able to view herself from outside.