Thursday, July 31, 2014

Beat Zen, Square Zen And Zen By Alan Watts

Direct Download

It is as difficult for Anglo-Saxons as for the Japanese to absorb anything quite so Chinese as Zen. For though the word "Zen" is Japanese and though Japan is now its home, Zen Buddhism is the creation of T'ang dynasty China. I do not say this as a prelude to harping upon the ncommunicable subtleties of alien cultures. The point is simply that people who feel a profound need to justify themselves have difficulty in understanding the viewpoints of those who do not, and the Chinese who created Zen were the same kind of people as Lao-tzu, who, centures before, said, "Those who justify themselves do not convince." 

For the urge to make or prove oneself right has always jiggled the Chinese sense of the ludicrous, since as both Confucians and Taoists-however different these philosophies in other ways-they have invariably appreciated the man who can "come off it." To Confucius it seemed much better to be human-hearted then righteous, and to the great Taoists, Lao-tzu and Chang-tzu, it was obvious that one could not be right without also being wrong, because the two were as inseparable as back and front. 

As Chang-tzu said, "Those who would have good government without its correlative misrule, and right without its correlative wrong, do not understand the principles of the universe." 

To Western ears such words may sound cynical, and the Confucian admiration of "reasonableness" and compromise may appear to be a weak-kneed lack of commitment to principle. Actually they reflect a marvelous understanding and respect for what we call the balance of nature, human and otherwise-a universal vision of life as the Tao or way of nature in which the good and evil, the creature and the destructive, the wise and the foolish are the inseparable polarities of existence. 

"Tao," said the Chung-yung, "is that from which one cannot depart. That from which one can depart is not the Tao." Therefore wisdom did not consist in trying to wrest the good from the evil but learning to "ride" them as a cork adapts itself to the crests and troughs of the waves. 

At the roots of Chinese life there is a trust in the good-and-evil of one's own nature which is pecularly foreign to those brought up with the chronic uneasy conscience of the Hebrew-Christian cultures. Yet it was always obvious to the Chinese that a man who mistrusts himself cannot even trust his mistrust, and must therefore be hopelessly confused.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...