Looking out my window after the evening showers had passed Tuesday evening.
The melting snow glistens
illuminated by a
“Mu” or “nothingness” in the context of Zen Buddhism appears at first glance to be self-contradictory – it is the emptiness that embraces the fullness of things (Merton 137). As mentioned as an example in class, sitting with your friends every day in the cafeteria – having something that you’re attached to – closes off opportunities to interact with and get to know other people (Inouye Lecture 2/11). “When one is in the possession of something, that something will keep all other somethings from coming in” (Merton 109). How then, do we empty ourselves of everything? Merton indicates that the key lies in the act of “being” (Merton 110). The act of being can be encapsulated in meditation. How then, does one meditate? Meditation can be achieved through virtually anything, whether it be calligraphy or judo or flower arrangement (Inouye 2/13). In Kendo (a form of Japanese fencing with bamboo swords and armor), there is the ideal of entering a state of mushin (無心), or “no-mindness,” during matches. In this state, it is said that you do not actively seek to strike the opponent. Instead, once an opening appears, your body will move to strike it with no conscious thought in a natural reaction – your mind and body are open to everything that your opponent does. Negative space, or maai (間合い), exists not only in the spatial distance between you and your opponent, but also in your internal mental state. Over the course of this past week, I realized that despite not being Buddhist by any stretch of the imagination, I was raised with an appreciation for Buddhist principles even if I didn’t recognize them as such at the time. My mother once told me that washing the dishes was a form of meditation – I thought she was just trying to get me to do some chores. And it was, once I approached it with the right mindset and lost myself in the act itself. The more this course goes on the wiser she sounds.