Fight Club as a Buddhist Metaphor


“Tyler allows his illusion (ego) to control him more and more as the movie progresses until he finds himself the leader of a giant cult who follows his every whim, no matter how insane or unreasonable. Additionally, as Tyler continues to fall deeper in love with Marla, the illusion seems to hate Tyler more and more. This is the central conflict of the film: Tyler’s Ego vs. Marla. Self vs Non-self. Yin vs. Yang.

The end of the film culminates with Tyler claiming that his “eyes are open” and shoots himself in the head, killing the illusion. This is a visceral metaphor for seeing the truth; that the ego does not exist. It seems, for real this time, that Tyler has finally found peace through the non-self. I can hear you asking: wait a second, didn’t Tyler learn that at therapy? He let himself go and found peace, what happened to that?

Tyler thought he found peace through selflessness in the meetings, but it wasn’t really him who found enlightenment. Recall that Tyler would enter the meetings under a false identity to pose as a terminally ill person. People would reveal their deepest fears and bare their true selves to him, all while he was hiding own. Sure, he felt compassion, but it wasn’t really selfless, it was selfish. Tyler’s ego was the one who became enlightened. Once he met Marla; his first real taste of selflessness, the ego materialized into a full blown illusion, distracting Tyler from the one thing that would truly make him happy, the one thing that would truly destroy the ego – love.

Tyler kills his ego which was blinding him to the truth which was right in front of him all along. The truest way to experience selflessness is through compassion which in this case is love. Tyler realizes this as the final shot shows the two holding hands, becoming one. Tyler and Marla have found balance through opposing forces. Yin and yang. Two becomes one. Duality becomes unity. Peace is finally achieved. There’s so much more in the movie that I haven’t touched on but that’s the gist of it.”

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