In The World as Will and Representation, Arthur Schopenhauer proposes, as the truest epitome of “the perfect resignation, which is the inmost spirit of Christianity, as of Indian wisdom,” the “Face, especially the eyes,” of a Renaissance Madonna. The transcendent peace that clothes Mary as represented by the old masters distills the detachment at the heart of that perennial philosophy which Schopenhauer claimed to have discovered in the Upaniṣads and in the great texts of the Western tradition alike.
Like Schopenhauer, T.S. Eliot saw a kind of detachment from one’s actions as central to both Eastern and Western philosophies, and he takes up this theme in works from The Waste Land to the Four Quartets. Also like Schopenhauer, Eliot explored this resignation by meditating above all on the figures of Mary—especially as she appears in Dante’s Paradiso—and of Kṛṣṇa, hero of that honorary Upaniṣad, the Bhagavad Gīta. Although Eliot’s earliest attempt, in The Waste Land, at bringing together Eastern and Western accounts of detachment proceeds, like Schopenhauer’s, by way of simple juxtaposition, his later poetry—and particularly “Dry Salvages,” the third of his Four Quartets—takes up the more ambitious task of allowing Kṛṣṇa’s insights to harmonize with the theme given in Mary's fiat mihi.
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