Thursday, March 17, 2011

Zen wisdom: To be AND not to be?

Zen is difficult to comprehend with a logical mind, because our mind, being logical, can only consider one thing at a time, either it is "be" (e.g. beautiful) or "not be" (e.g. not beautiful). To be AND not to be? Are you kidding? So, the Zen master strikes your head with a stick when you're deep into the zone of "to be" and strikes your head again when you're deep into that of "not to be". How about I force myself to have nothing in my mind, as some Zen meditation coaches would have suggested? The Master will strike you again because you are "to be" with nothingness!! As the Diamond Sutra said: Nothingness is an illusion. Fair to say, if Zen can be expressed in clearer language, the Zen master won't strike your head so many times. He is no sadist, isn't he? (see, you're in doubt!)

Literature is an art form that draws the reader into the language itself. And in certain cases, it can enable our mind to open just a little bit, for us to appreciate the immediateness of life - a feeling of being artistic similar to a feeling of being in Zen. The following is such passage from a famous poet, writer and Zen laity in the Sung Dynasty, Su Shi (蘇軾), an extract from his "A composition on Red-Cliff" 赤壁賦, my translation follows.


"My friend, do you understand the nature of river and moon? The former continuously flowing away yet it will always be there; the latter continuously enlarging and diminishing, yet its size always remains the same. From the perspective of their changing nature, everything changes continuously, from the perspective of their unchanging nature, everything is infinite, including me and everything else. Why should I be different? Everything on Earth belongs to itself. Nothing belongs to me, and I won't covet anything. Yet the light breeze over the river and the bright moon among the mountains, through my ears breeze changes into sound, through my eyes moon becomes colorful. All generously there for our taking, but never diminishes a single bit. Endless treasures of Creation, for you and me to enjoy tonight!"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...