Now I want to finish up this seminar, by explaining, trying to explain, the way in which the Kegon the loss of faith, underlies the practice of zen. Because the earlier in the seminar I explained that it insofar as Zen Buddhism has an intellectual background. That is the Kegon philosophy. And in the first three sessions then I’ve tried to give you at least a partial view of what this fantastic metaphysical construct is. And if you want to incidentally explore it further. Alas, the literature is not too well available but there is an excellent account of it in the second volume of Fung Yu Lons history of Chinese philosophy. And I think that’s the best place to go. There is a book that the little book that Suzuki wrote called the essence of Buddhism, published in London by the Buddhist society. And that also is an account of it but it’s harder to find. So now how do we get from where we were to Zen? Well it goes like this. In the sutra of the six patriarch, the Ton Ching, which was the collected teachings of the sixth patriarch of the Zen school, who as I said was a contemporary of Fat Sung. And Sung died in seven hundred twelve A.D. and Wei-Nung died in seven hundred thirteen. In his discourse, he gives a lesson on the art of teaching. The art of being a guru. And this lesson is based on getting people to be capable of polar thinking. Polar thinking is simply, well it’s not just thinking, it’s a kind of feeling and a kind of sensing, wherein you see the going together notice of things that I have thought to be mutual thought to be mutually exclusive opposites. In other words, you wouldn’t know you were right if unless somebody else was wrong. Normally, we think then the right and the wrong are mutually exclusive. But when you are capable of polar thinking you see that they go together a person who feels in a polar way sees figure and background going together. He doesn’t see them as mutually exclusive. Now then you see when I was explaining the Jijimuge. The fall off Dharma world or the fourth way of looking at the universe which is the culmination of the school I was trying to show this point. That all events have a go-with-ness with each other in the same way as a figure in a background. So in order to get this point across when Wei-Nung explained that when a person asks you a question about something sacred. You give him an answer in terms of something secular. When he asks you about something eternal. You give him an answer in terms of the temporal. When he asked you about something abstract you give him an answer in terms of the concrete. And so the whole way down the line. So, when you read your Zen stories which are always this apparently delightful nonsense somebody says What is the fundamental meaning of Buddhism and the answer is. A dried dung scraper. In the far East, [they] don’t, they used not to use toilet paper they had a stick they used instead and this is the answer. You see here has switched completely from the domain of life that is considered philosophical and sacred to one that is considered completely profane and unmentionable. Then on other occasions. It goes the other way. A monk says to the master. And they’re engaged in cooking. Potatoes I mean. This is possibly the knife. The master hands it to him blade first. And the monk says please give me the other end the must as what would you do with the other end. And this immediately has a kind of metaphysical flavor to it. So that he jumps you see from the practical question to the metaphysical, but if you ask him the metaphysical he will always answer in terms of the every day. And the whole genius of Zen is really this, that it has a way of religious life and a form of iconography. And the form of which is secular. And it has created a whole school of poetry, where the deep philosophical matters are never, never mentioned. Except sometimes by way of making a joke. Because what Zen tries to do ideally is to be completely cool. To create the religion of no-religion. So that you don’t notice it’s around unless you’re in the know.
Now this is not actually true in practice. Many people are disturbed when they go to Japan. And they walk into Zen temples and find that they have rituals and services such as I’ve just been playing to you. That they have elaborate Buddha images and people are making bows to them as a matter of fact when Professor Huston Smith went to Japan. And was being shown around a Zen monastery. He noticed that his guide them you know the particular master of the monastery whenever he passed an image of the Buddha would stop and bow. And he said to him, I don’t understand this he said because I thought you were present but it’s wood burn up these images and as you one of your masters did in one of the stories. That I don’t see why you bothered to might just as well spit at them. The Master said, you spits, I bows. But you see, the thing about all this is the about iconoclasm. There are very different spirits of iconoclasm. The Puritan iconoclasts who broke down all the images in the English Churches hated the images they thought they were evil and wrong. And so they smash them ruthlessly. But when a chicken comes out of the egg shell. The egg shell is not something to be deployed it’s certainly something to be broken. But had the shell not existed the chicken wouldn’t have been protected. So in precisely the same way, images, religious ideas, religious symbols exist in order to be constructively and lovingly broken. Because they are like opening a package. If there’s no package you know, you can hardly get the contents because it falls through your fingers. So something comes to you in a package. It’s why packaging is so important and so interesting. Something comes to you in a package Well it’s like on Christmas Day here all these gorgeous packages with colors and gold and everything and very often the package is a much better than what’s in them but. You then all everybody proceeds to tell them apart and get what’s inside.
So, from this point of view the Zen Buddhist Raghad all ideas. About Buddhism about philosophy about religion and so on as so much packaging. And in order to get at it you have to get rid of the packaging. So what happens then? When we get to the state I was talking about this morning, where you abandon completely, all belief. You abandon every sort of way of hanging on to life. You accept your complete impermanence, the prospect of your death, of vanishing into nothing whatsoever you see. And of not being able to control anything, of being at the mercy of what is completely other than you. And you let go to that you see in this means that you even get rid of any any god whatsoever to do this fully. You don’t have a thing left to cling to. So this complete let go flips, and you discover having made it a new way of experiencing all together in which you don’t need any god. Because you’re it. But also, you don’t cling to the idea that you’re it. In other words, this is why Christian a mighty. Makes a certain kind of attack on people who are they down tests and who believe that the human self is ultimately the divine self he’s as why do you believe in that. See, because if you believe in it, you are making it a thing to hang on to. And so in a way then you see all belief in God is lack of faith. That ever struck you. You’re still clinging and so long as you’re still clinging you don’t have faith because faith is the state of total let go. So, when through some marvelous desperation, we get to the state of total let go, and then you see fantastically religion anything like religion simply disappears there’s no need for it any longer. Like you’ve crossed the shore, [you] cross to the other shore you don’t need the raft. Get off. Leave the raft behind. Now the other shore is actually the same as this one. You know when you cross the river. When the mountain is in the distance see there’s the other shore over there it’s kind of different from here you can sit here and say. Be nice to live wouldn’t. See a place up there I’d love to live because it looks so good from here. But then you go and you buy the house. And you sit there and it feels the same as this place feels because you are there. And how things feel. How you are near look back across here and say gee isn’t that look lovely. There are mysterious trails going up Mt Tamalpais. That look as if they led to that place that we were talking about this morning the Secret Garden which every child remembers. And they’d disappear through trees and there’s a kind of a mysterious little canyon and you can hear the sound of a waterfall and you know somewhere in there is that garden I know as a matter of fact where it is there is one. But, always, when you follow the road right through it leads back to San Rafael. And its suburbs, on the other side, you see. I have been years seeking the ideal place. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it the only way I can possibly find it is to be it. If you can find it in you, then anywhere you go is the ideal place to live. But it’s so fascinating, projecting it outside and going on a look for it. I mean this is the whole of fun. Fun means.
So, when therefore, religion is abandoned, you are in a dangerous fix, because you can very easily slip into madness. We were talking this morning about a vision. Brought up this question about the vision of a fourth dimension or another dimension and anybody who looked at it went crazy. And this is a real danger. That people who have the mystical vision, whether through practicing yoga or Zen Buddhism or hesicaste Christian prayers or by taking L.S.D.. Become. A serious menace to society. And society gets really worried about them. Because they have, they they’re not taking the world and its concerns seriously any longer. They know it’s an illusion. And if you really know it’s an illusion. If you really know I’m an illusion I don’t know what you’re going to do with me. I don’t know whether I trust you I don’t know whether you’re going to keep the roots. I I just don’t know about you you’ve seen through it and goodness only knows you may do anything and if you’re not sure of yourself. And you suddenly see that all this is an illusion there’s nothing you can cling to it’s all relative, you may get bugged and you may go nuts. And that’s the great danger in all of this. And that is why a Zen monastery is at one and the same moment a place of total iconoclasm, of seeing through the whole thing, and yet at the same time it maintains a discipline as clean and strict as anywhere you can find. The combination of the two is simply marvelous.
Unfortunately modern Japan doesn’t dig it. But what they’ve done is to, they’ve well recognized, that you cannot go into outer space and come back to this world without strict controls. It’s exactly the same way when you’re skin diving. You go below a certain number of fathoms and you experience weightlessness. Now a person who’s not properly trained at that level will get happy. Now there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get happy. Provided you keep your wits about you. Nothing matters at all when your weight vanishes because after all you don’t matter anymore you have no weight. Nothing is weighty, nothing is important. And a person may at this point take off his oxygen mask and offer it to a fish. In which case he’ll drown, he’ll never come back. And if he stays down too long he enjoys this too much his oxygen supply will run out. And he’ll be lost. So he has a watch. And he knows according to discipline, that at a certain time on this instrument he’s got to come. It’s like when you had too much to drink and you’re driving you got to watch a speedometer drive by instruments when you’re in a difficult situation in an airplane and you lost your sense of gravity watch your instrument don’t trust your senses. And see. This is very important.
In Buddhist imagery, there are guardians of the directions of the universe. And they are all in the figure of Chinese generals. With clubs and swords and very fierce expressions. And they are always put at gates. You know, Gates a north, south, east and west and here are the guards. They got the entrances but what they really God is the directions. Because it’s absolutely important. That we can agree on our time scale. And on and off south east and west so that I can meet you. We can agree about that we all miss each other completely will never meet. And if we can’t meet we can have dinner together. If we can have dinner together we can love each other. So in the middle of nothingness, which is all this space here, see, which is nothing whatever. There are nevertheless directions. And think what a beautiful thing that is easy to set up directions in the middle of nothing. So for this reason, in the religion where anything goes, and anything is allowed. No holds barred. There is for that reason precise it discipline and order, which is pretty strict. But the spirit of the strictness is different than the spirit of strictness in theistic religions. In Buddhism there’s no boss. Ultimate reality is not conceived in the form of off parity. Because from their point of view that’s childish. You’re your own boss. And you’re responsible if you want to believe it belong to a society. It’s up to you if you want to conform in other words but one of the interesting things is you can always cease to be a monk without dishonor. In the Christian church, you can’t. Because you make life vows to get in. You promise for ever to be obedient, chaste and poor. And this this is irrevocable like Christian marriage. But in the Buddhist Order, you can leave any time you want. And they say all right if you do you’ve got many other lives ahead of you in which you can be a monk all over again, and if you don’t want to do it this round you don’t have to. And we’re not we’re not mad at you. Just please, if you don’t want to undergo this discipline go somewhere else. And there’s no dishonorable. That at all. I have a friend in Los Angeles who runs a very fancy restaurant. He was a Buddhist monk for ten days. It was quite an experience but that’s all right. OK you try it and if you want to stay here we’re very happy to have you if you don’t want to we just assume you one round because you’re not deceiving us you know if you stay and you don’t really want to but feel you auto you’re a nuisance like a person who feels they ought to be unselfish and is therefore always making promises which they’re never going to fulfill. It is much better to be frank and tell people what you honestly feel than pretend so. For this reason then, where there is no religion at all, because everybody’s realized that the sky’s the limit. There isn’t any boss. There’s nothing to kowtow to. Because you’re it. It follows that you become therefore responsible for creating an order. Instead of there but, you see, instead of submitting to the order, you create it.
Next, you find that you can, having got rid of religion completely. Well now everything becomes religious. That is to say instead of having some kind of hang up on universals, on vast abstract huge area conceptions. You employ instead things that are very particular, very temporal. Because of jijimuge. You remember, the image that I used to illustrate G.G. more gave was the net of jewels. Where in every Crystal reflects all the other crystals every dewdrop on the spider’s web reflects all the others OK So then. I just happened to pick up this because it happened to be handy. I don’t want you to think about found in Orient and what sort of thing. With this all Buddhism can be taught. All the universe, all sciences, all philosophy can be demonstrated with this. Because this is one of the jewels. Reflecting only others as when you pick up a link in a chain all the other links come up with it and so with us. And, if you ask me about what is the mystery of life what is God, and I show you this fan. People look at you in a strange way. And say. I wonder what he meant by that. Well truth of the matter is it didn’t mean anything at all. Because this doesn’t mean anything. Words mean something because they refer. To events and things that are other than the sounds of the words. But the things and events that words refer to don’t refer to anything else. Of course that connected with everything else but they don’t refer to everything else in the same way as a symbol dots.
So that’s why Zen always answers in terms of the completely concrete. What is this? A fan. Must be a noise. Which This isn’t. This is. What this? Or alternatively if you don’t want to be hung up on it. It’s this. Or this. New Thing. There’s no fixed thing that this is. So, in just the same way. Let’s consider the advance that Zen makes in the world. Of art. With all the world of painting. I showed you a Tibetan painting this morning which was extremely elaborate where every tiny space was filled. And where all of it was obviously religious It was quite clear that this painting was an icon. Now then people don’t like that and then. I mean, it isn’t that they have a real prejudice against it but they don’t usually have it around. Instead, they prefer a style of painting in which there’s an enormous amount of untouched paper. And where, a brush has various swiftly and deftly painted some bamboo sort of in one corner. Now, the way the bamboo is put on the paper alives all the rest of the paper, because it turns it into a lake. Without drawing a single line a master can put bamboo on a piece of paper and turn the rest of the paper into a lake. Everybody can see the lake there although nothing has happened empty space or it might be a whole mountain might be there but covered in mist. Because you see, he didn’t use the paper as mere paper. You often see around especially motels they have, you know, the kind of Motel where you have flower prints over the bird. It is a bunch of flowers taken out of an old book of etchings or something put in a frame. Some interior decorator remember it was there in one two three four months in a row and always the bunch of flowers is put bang in the middle of the piece of paper now you know what that does that the vitalized is all the rest of the paper because it means the background has become an important and this is always done by people who don’t understand polar thinking who don’t feel that figure and ground go together, but all Zen painting where you get this extraordinary relationship of figure to background is done by people who feel and think in a actually a sense in a polar way. They see the space and the solid simultaneously. And that’s why the Chinese place things in space the way they do. Even, you can’t all see it from where you’re sitting. A piece of calligraphy contains in it, an extremely important relationship between the characters and the space. Now it would take me quite a while to go into all the details of that. But they have to be. Just the right size to accord with that space. There isn’t only one way of doing it there are several ways of putting the characters in a piece of paper that size. But in each way that you use, you take account of the space. You don’t use the paper as a mere neutral background. So when, for example, you will find so often with the Chinese painter takes his area, his rectangular area in which he is painting, and he will paint one corner. And for it say from the bottom left he will strike up a bamboo stalk, and flow leaves in the wind on it. And so leave the rest. This is a trick. You see which. Uses and as I said vitalize is the whole of the rest of the area. And you don’t do that. Simply by putting the figure plump in the center.
So, the whole art which has been inspired by zen is based on the polar recognition of the identity of space and solid. Solid in space, see, one implies the other. But this is always so unexpected from the point of view of common sense people. In other words, think space is nothing. And it has no power. And so for this very reason, the architecture inspired by Zen is practically all of it playing with space. Then emphasizes the luxurious richness of poverty. Of rooms with practically nothing in. Furniture lessness. And if it has a luxury That’s unbelievable. But the uncluttered life. Although I must say. That somewhere. I went to the house of a very great team out. Where everything was absolutely gorgeous live in order. It was the highest styles then taste Japan and. They call it the Motomusashi. And we went into a little tea room and Jane-O, in a kind of experimental fiddling way pushed aside a screen. And inside was a western style room. Come prickly cluttered with papers and old clothes and everything thrown in there was this thing because everybody needs an unconscious place you can somebody everybody everybody’s house has a basement or a closet or something where they throw everything away. That’s just what I call the element of it or reducible rascality is always there. But nevertheless, on the outside, the place where you operate, you know, they have this sense of complete clearness. Which is the coincidence in one artistic expression of freedom and discipline. Anything goes because you’ve got complete space in which you can do anything and yet the space is disciplined beautifully. Then in the subject matter of painting. Then people of course as I said prefer the secular. Even when they paint St sages, Buddhas, and so on, they give them a secular form has to say they look like just ordinary people. They don’t necessarily have hellos or special markings. They prefer that they shouldn’t but they should look kind of rustic. And they prefer to put on the altar as it were the. Token Nama of a T.V. room. The alcove in other words, is not almost never adorned with a religious figure. But always with a naturalistic painting rocks. Water, vegetables. Trees, whatever. So in the same way, in poetry, where the haiku is a kind of masterpiece of this way of feeling the universe. The haiku always celebrates a particular finite. In ji type and no ji. as distinct from Ri…instant of life. In the dense mist, what is being shouted between hill and boat? And you from such a poem will remember you know some morning when you were at some goddess or of a story. And you couldn’t see anything and of the conversation going on between going to calling down to someone in the boat on the Hill and you can’t make out what it’s all about anymore than you can make out what’s on the other side of the river and yet you know it is God it is. Somehow the very fact that you can’t see makes it all the better. This is all there is. The path comes to an end in the parsley. This is called in Japanese Yugen, Y-U-G-E-N.. We have no English word for you again whatsoever. But yugen… ends nowhere but with a certain implication. That is to say, as I was just trying to describe the place up in the mountain, where somehow the trail disappears. And there might be something beyond. But the whole point is that you don’t investigate too closely. Because then you are the sort of person who when you get in there would spoil it. Like you say. When you make love to somebody do it delicately. Don’t be too inquisitive. Don’t be too probing, because that would injure what you love. But the real constant theme of the haiku is that it always incarnates the specific. Finite, temporal, immediate moment. And with this says more than you can say with any amount of abstract generalisations. Only, only, only, only, you always know but that behind this, the people who make up the haiku are not Bourgeois philistines who say, well isn’t the main thing simply to be practical and get on with their work. The point about the haiku is there’s something in human life which is very difficult to pin down. But it’s when somebody comes on at you. And says something but you know that there’s another meaning behind it which doesn’t have to be stated between you. And so you get a joke. So you get a tacit understanding about something. And. This looks like it’s this but it does that. And I could does this in a very cunning way. It’s the simplest possible utterance. Basho said to get haiku well written ask a three foot child to say, the robin’s egg is blue. You light the fire. I’ll show you something beautiful a great big ball of snow and this is a haiku. But something is conveyed by this, see, but we’re not going to talk about to be bad form to begin with. Like gentlemen in England don’t talk about religion. Or sex. Well, you don’t mention these things it’s not quite like that but it’s nearly like that. There’s something got over to you by this. Where the whole fun of the thing is that you don’t mention it. But this is possible only when you know. The jijimuge thing. That every bit of experience takes in everything else so in exactly the same way we have a confraternity among us in our society today, of hipsters. And they can with a flick of an eyelash, make a whole crowd of people laugh or in the know. Because they have seen that one single moment motion of an eye is the whole universe in operation. And the joke is that the people outside don’t know this. But when I move an eyelash at you and you’re in the know about this, you laugh. It’s the very funny game.