Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Wave of Life

Most Westerners associate Zen and poetic art. I would caution against assuming that the connection is absolute. There’s nothing intrinsically Zen in any art, inspite of the way some seem to reflect Zen principles. It is man who brings Zen to the art he practices.

Roshi Gempo Nakamura is a 20th century Chinese philosopher, and an expert in Chinese literature, especially Zen poetry. Zen is a popular word today. It is used to express thoughts that are not perceived as rational. Westerners find Zen in gardens, art, homes and offices. Zen is not a reflection, it is action. It is the action of consciousness expanding in its own awareness. Zen is irrational. Zen is the action of consciousness without logical thoughts.

Zen is not found in the illustrations or images of it. It is action without assertion. It is void, but always filled with energy. Zen is never captured; it is only experienced. When there is not time to build thoughts or recall memories there is Zen, but as we put these images in words Zen disappears. Meaning and reasoning represent something other than themselves; they are the echo of Zen not the action of Zen. Zen poets through the centuries use words and phrase that are illogical and void of reason in order to grasp the act itself, not the words.

Our Zen nature rests in a babbling brook, a singing bird, or a blossoming flower.

Another Chinese Zen master explains Zen this way:

"How were things before the appearance of Zen in the world?” The Chinese master answers by raising his cane. “How were things after the appearance of Zen?” The Chinese master again answers by raising the same cane.

The master’s cane defines the action and the truth of Zen.

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