Fight Club is a movie based on the book of the same name written by Chuck Palahniuk. It was released in 1999 as a film directed by David Fincher. The film, when first shown in theaters, did poorly falling well short of what 20th Century Fox’s expectations were. The major problem that the film had was its negativity toward women with such lines as, “we are a generation of men raised by women”, as well as its portrayal of the film’s leading female character Marla Singer who is seemingly the root of all the nameless main character’s problems. By contrast in the movie are told to take back their masculinity and fight. After the film’s release to home video, a cult following quickly grew. A concern that sprouted from the film was that there would be people out there trying to copy what they had seen in the film, and in turn act violently. This movie and book hardly seemed like a place that Buddhism let alone any religion would be found. So in Fight club what are the Buddhist influences? First, we will talk about the main tenants of Buddhism then move into the story and look at the connections of Buddhism in Fight Club.
Buddhism often has its origins traced back to the Four Noble Truths discovered by Siddhārtha Gautama also known as Gautama Buddha. The Four Noble Truths are what one who practices Buddhism hope to achieve.
The Four Noble Truths
The truth of suffering
The truth of the origin of suffering
The truth of the cessation of suffering
The truth of the path leading to the release from suffering
The idea that life is suffering and how to escape that suffering is what Buddhism is all about. A Buddhist believes that this escape form suffering is done through enlightenment of the Atman that is, the soul or ego of a person, as well as a rejection of the worldly belongings. Santideva (an 8th-century Indian Buddhist philosopher and practitioner) says, “Let my possessions freely vanish; let my honor, my body, livelihood, and everything else pass away.” (Santideva 48) These things must be done for proper enlightenment. Then, once enlightenment is reached, the Atman and the person are one, a Buddha. In many circles of Buddhism, they do not see themselves as religious but instead a philosophy with no belief in a god or high power. Rather a higher understanding called nirvana.
The Buddhist tradition of nirvana is described as the extinguishing of the fires that cause suffering. These fires are typically identified as the fires of attachment, aversion, and ignorance. Once again in this belief we see the idea of letting go and becoming more aware about the self. There are many types of enlightenment in Buddhism but the most prevalent is nirvana and the release from rebirth cycles. "Where there is nothing; where naught is grasped, there is the Isle of No-Beyond. Nirvana do I call it—the utter extinction of aging and dying. There is that dimension where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of...