We, with our purposive minds say, ‘All this is for the purpose of survival.’ Now for the survival of what? We have already defined the entire organism in terms of a purpose for survival. All the parts of a plant are shown to have roles in the survival process. So, the survival process has as its fundamental purpose the continuation of the survival process. And is it not. Nothing has been said. It’s purely tautological. We’re going on so as to go on. And this is a purely I would call it an engineering approach to nature, where the engineer looks at the situation in standpoint of efficiency. And there has no raison d’etre in his thinking for inefficient processes.
So therefore, if I would be going from here to there, the engineer wants me to go in the shortest possible distance and the quickest possible time. And will take a straight route rather than a wiggly one. And one goes wiggly however, not merely to say fit better to the contours of the land, but to enjoy wiggling. Enjoyment of wiggling is really fundamental to life. It isn’t wiggly just because that’s the easiest way for it to be. It is wiggly for the pure love of wiggling. Why do we were shirts like you’re wearing covered with interesting floral wiggles? Somehow those Wiggles please the eye, and are restful. Whereas, plain surfaces and straight lines are not always restful, and that’s very skilfully handled. Because they make the I go…see. Whereas in a floral setting they are I could wander. Cos the let’s over do it like Victorian wallpaper. Because that kills everything with too much of it. The Japanese do it so skillfully by using the emptiness and displaying against this a very clear wiggle, as in a flower arrangement or a calligraphic painting.
So the space and the wiggle complement each other. So, likewise if you are running, the engineering mentalities go-jogging. And they plod plod plod crowd crowd glug glug glug. Chunking along a course. But one who really understands running, dances the course. Who and he will be swerving and. Just on his toes, delightfully going. And, he will really be a more effective runner than a jogger. Because he’s not doing it out of a sense of duty, and he doesn’t have getting there in mind. And if you have getting there in mind, the whole journey is a chore. That’s why when you’re travelling in a car or by any other means. You wear yourself out by being in a hurry to get there. Absolutely arrive exhausted. Because all along you’ve been pushing at it. And there was no need to. You would be amazed if you set out to go somewhere in no hurry. How astonishingly soon you seem to arrive. If you go out in a hurry, it’ll take forever to get there.
So what is, to understand the Chinese and Japanese appreciation of natural form which they derive essentially from Taoism. Secondarily from Zen. Because Zen is Buddhism as influenced by Taoism. You find increasingly that what characterizes their whole approach to art is the purposelessness of nature. In other forms of religious art, you find very symbolic style figures paintings, sculpture. And these figures are normally symmetrical. But what you find in the Taoist and the Zen feeling for nature is that the focal point of reverence, of fascination, will be the unsymmetrical. It could be simply a rock of peculiar shape that has been set in space in a certain way. The rock, the bamboo etc, is not intended to have any symbolic meaning whatsoever.
It’s the same, likewise with the Zen stories. When somebody asks what is the fundamental meaning of Buddhism. And the master says, ‘I didn’t feel like wearing shoes today.’ I know very well that ignorant Chinese people will look for symbolism in this, and will explain it by some sort of allegorical performance, but that is not the meaning of it at all. This is not the sense of a Zen remark. You cannot understand the sense of the Zen remark without being rather stupid. That is to say being, taking it simply for what it is. He wasn’t talking about not wearing any shoes. To lead you around. Through a kind of symbol that is a code known only to the initiates. Will be no point in such a thing. But simply talking quite directly. That’s the reason, that is the fundamental meaning of Buddhism. Because, the fundamental meaning is again the Tao, and I’ve shown you what the Tao is. The happening. Get with it. How can you not?
So those works of art give the feeling. So supposing a wall such a favorite scene is painted as a mountain landscape. And somewhere in a tiny little human figures. It’s a poet wandering along. Through pine trees beside a stream. Where is he going? Where is the stream going? Where the clouds going? Where are the birds going? We don’t know, really. They are wandering on. And so you get the quality which the Japanese call Yugein. Yugen is made of two characters. Which mean mysterious and deep. But the Japanese dramatist Soami said ‘Now Yugen is when you are watching wild geese and they are suddenly hidden by a cloud. When you are looking at ships far out to sea. And they are hidden by a far off island. Yugen is to wander on and on in a great forest without for a return.’
Now, in these poetic expressions, you get a feel of a certain kind. I got plenty for nothing, nothing got plenty for me.so this is the same sort of thing. Another Chinese poem that starts out my thoughts will wander in the great void. This is Yugen. Yugen therefore, is the sensation of life. Of nature, going but going nowhere. But it’s not the sort of nowhere that we imagine when we see a sign which says. No thru road. Or when we come to what we call a blank wall. Going nowhere is going into pregnant space where we do not know as it were, what will come of it. It’s when space is used to let your imagination flow into it without being specific. When a certain kind of music hints at something, but never spoils it subtly by explaining it. It is for the same reason that a joke is funny when a joke is not explained. And you do not even explain to yourself why you laugh. Because that would spoil it.
And so, in the same way there is this mysterious, which is not defined. But which you understand and see the beauty of it just as you see the humor of the joke. Without defining it, and that is winds eventually there is no adequate philosophy of humor. And certainly no funny philosophy if you know. A lot of philosophers and psychologists written about the psychology of Laughter in an extremely boring way. And in a way it is as futile to discuss aesthetics in a kind of philosophical way as if we were trying to find out the formula for creating the beautiful object. But the poets, the Japanese and Chinese. Repeatedly bring up images which evoke the model of purposelessness. Now let me give you an illustration. In Japan and in China. They love building temples on the sides of mountains. And especially forested mountains in Japan. You’ll get a it’s a tree very like the Sequoia It’s called a Cryptomeria. And there are vast cathedral-like forests on the sides of mountains Well you see a great gate at the bottom of the mountain. And all kinds of ornate carvings in the gate, because it’s in the ancient Ton Dynasty Chinese style which is the style of Japanese temple architecture and there are clouds and dragons and up sort of girls of all sorts of wonders in this gate, and you go through and there’s a ground set of stone steps, flanked by guardian dogs and bronze lanterns going up up up marvelous approach and at the top of it is another such gate with maybe a great sliding doors in it, and you go beyond that and there is a courtyard surrounded with maple trees in front of the Cryptomerias. And there is the temple. Splendid great building you go inside and there is a marvelous golden altar. With borders and incense and golden lotus flowers and candles and very very splendid butter. Sitting on his Lotus throat smiling down at you. Well after that somehow or other these things are all rigged so that you find yourself behind the temple have lowered bellow there’s another flight of steps going up not perhaps quite so grand. And you go up and up and up and up. And at last a different kind of Temple confronts you this may be a Shinto temple. And this will be very simple construction. Or it might be, the Hermitage, the personal house of the chief priest. The gate to this is more rustic. And there may be a small garden round it, leading you to a further ascent of steps beyond. And you go up and up and up once again. And, here is a graveyard. They don’t have sort of ugly tombstones like we do, they have simply square pillar with the name of the deceased written on in Chinese characters, sometimes they’re wooden And there’s the sense of the graveyard, somehow it’s not quite as depressing. Because somehow the graveyard simply says it all flows away. And right at the back of the graveyard. There’s another shrine. And you get to that. And what is in it in the place of honor. A mirror. And then oh my goodness, there’s still another flight, going up. Just, very crude, small steps going get higher into the trees. And suddenly, the trail vanishes, into the bushes. And a Haiku poem says, this is all there is. The path comes to an end among the parsley. And don’t remember that as a child? Of exploring around somebody’s garden and there are all sorts that we look at things you see from the low down and you don’t look over the top of everything like an adult. So you explore a little ways that go around through bushes, and here’s a trail and finally it just vanishes. Into, it might very well be parsley. And I, so vividly remember that, how magical. That was. I felt I could disappear at that point and never be discovered. That there were all sorts of secrets hidden in those bushes. I never specify what they were. That was the whole point.
We cannot conceive the real thing that we want. It would spoil it to do it, because then it would become a mere conception. What we’re looking for is the great surprise. You see, and to the degree that we preconceived it, it will fall flat. The whole principle of the universe, you see. If Taoist principle is spontaneity. It is to accomplish, a miracle without doing anything. Without planning it. And you will see here a coincidentia oppositorum. As you can find out for example by exploring, the relationship between doing and happening, you can explore the relationship of freedom and necessity. And you can see that, as you can’t visualize one without the other, that there could be a state in which you can see all process, as simultaneously free and necessary. That’s a contradiction in ordinary logic. But when we say of something that it happens necessarily, we are separating this happening from a cause. And that is a purely conceptual separation. Strictly speaking, everything that happens is part of the same event as its cause. Like I was showing you that the river is all one event, you can’t say that the river is caused by its source. And if it wasn’t flowing, there would be no water in the ocean to pick up. That sort of thing.
So, you can get to a point where you understand that it’s only you look at your behavior at the Tao, from one point of view and you can see it’s free that is to say it is emerging now from the void. Quite freely, quite spontaneously. For look at it from another point of view, and you can see that everything that happens happens necessarily. Actually, the truth is neither one nor the other These are just different ways of classifying, ways of looking at it. It’s like what you call in mathematics finding a limit. That is to say if I have a magnet has North Pole and South Pole must start at the North Pole. Chopping cut off sections cut off sections approaching the South Pole. At every point that I cut off a piece, I will have an off power. It will still be enough all the way until I get right to the end when the whole magnet has been chopped up. And it disappears Okay, let’s do the other way I begin from the South Pole every time I chop getting closer to the north a piece left is still south. That’s the idea of a limit. So in the same way, if you approach the world from the end called necessity, and you’d start chopping chopping chopping to get to the end called freedom. It will always be a necessity if you approach it that way you’ll see everything is happening necessarily then if you turn it round to begin at the end called freedom it will always be freedom until you get to necessity and the thing disappears. For this reason, now then, the poet who speaks next to the musician most eloquently about Tao, doesn’t philosophize. The poet merely gives the image. This is all there is, the path comes to an end in the parsley.That one could say. Enough said.