Dualism In Walt Whitman

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While reading Walt Whitman’s compilation of poetry found in the comprehensive collection Leaves of Grass, it is nearly impossible to ignore the multitude of connections made to Buddhist teachings. His poetry mimics the main principles of Buddhism to the point that some authors have gone as far as to call him the American Buddha. In particular, Whitman subtly makes a connection between two of the most essential dualistic principles in Buddhism, not one not two, and death without dying. In fact, rather than merely demonstrating these teachings, Whitman, through his powerful language, portrays the latter as a continuation of the former in a way that comes irresistibly close to describing the mystery surrounding Buddhist dualism. [In fact, Whitman portrays death without dying as a continuation of not one not two; through his powerful language his descriptions are irresistibly close to the mystery that surrounds Buddhist dualism rather than merely demonstrate the teachings.] From the very first stanza of the collection titled Songs of Myself, Whitman makes it clear that he see’s humanities existence in a dualistic sense. The statement, “I celebrate myself and sing myself” is riddled with personal pride and demonstrates the “not one” aspect of Buddhist dualism. Whitman boldly declares that he is unique, special and worthy of song and praise. Yet the bombastic opening is immediately followed by a voice that speaks to the legitimacy of collectivism, “and what I assume you shall
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