online: 20 october 2002

18 october 2002 non-dualism (2)

(a previous entry on non-dualism was written on 15 may 2002 - inspired by the writings of Spinoza)

12:34 Zen Buddhism. I've been reading books* about it for two or three weeks now. What have I learnt?

The first thing, and perhaps the only one, is to distrust or abandon ideas, concepts, explanations etc. - all separations of thought from act, or from thing, and instead to just let each thing or act take all of one's attention... is that it?

Perhaps not, or not quite. Even to be writing this may be to miss it. I strike my head with my hand. Is Zen in that sudden sensation, that moment?

I cease asking and turn to doing what else may seem fitting just now... I get up.

14:05 And now I'm up I find I can do any of several things I was avoiding doing all morning... yoga, emails, birthdays, appointments, lunch, and now to go to see an exhibition before it closes tomorrow... I feel a return of energy. Does it come of this attempted non-dualism? I fancy it does, and that it is a wider and yet more concrete non-dualism than I'd previously imagined. But this isn't imagined, it's experienced. Here!

And now I feel decisive - an unusual experience for me.

But there is no me, and no you, says Buddhism!

Later, on the bus: I suspect this is as great a change as any I've experienced.

Yes I saw the exhibition (which included a film by Pete Gomez) and I bought a new coat, on impulse. And Browning, poetical works 1833-1864,edited by Ian Jack. All excellent!

20th october: ...but now I'm having second thoughts about the coat!

*the two books by Geshe Kelsay Gyatso and D T Suzuki that I noted on 11th October 2002 and six others:

D T Suzuki, An introduction to Zen Buddhism, edited by Christmas Humphreys, foreword by C G Jung, Rider and Company, London 1974, fourth impression.

D T Suzuki, Zen and Japanese culture, Bollingen Series LXIV, Princeton University Press, Princeton N J 1989, eleventh printing.

Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the art of archery, with an introduction by D T Suzuki, translated by R F C Hull, Vintage books, Random House, New York 1971 (first published 1953).

Eugen Herrigel, The Method of Zen, edited by Herman Tausend, translated by R F C Hull, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London 1960 (first published in German 1958).

The Zen Teachings of Huang Po, on the transmission of mind, edited and translated by John Blofeld, The Buddhist Society, London 1971, third edition (first published 1947).

Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, informal talks on Zen meditation and practice, edited by Trudy Dixon, with a preface by Huston Smith, and an introduction by Richard Baker, Weatherhill, Inc., New York and Tokyo 1994, thirty-second printing (first published 1970).

Struck by the frequent reprinting of these books, over thirty to fifty years, I enjoyed noting in these references what I can find of their publishing histories.

D T Suzuki's writings about Zen began with his Essays (still in print in India) in 1927. It really does seem that his efforts to transmit Zen culture have succeeded. When someone chided him for taking Zen from Japan to the USA he is supposed to have said 'they will return it to us - improved!'

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