I was sitting in my room late at night after watching a YouTube clip of the meteor passing over a city in Russia when I looked outside my window to see the night sky.

A city sleeps—

Stars pass over

never to encounter

The idea of nothingness both struck me as calming and confusing. I think a lot of has to do with the disregard of boundaries that we build for ourselves as a society. Professor Inouye drew the example in class that for many of us we only associate with people that make us feel comfortable and complacent (Lecture 2/11). I feel the reason for this is the over exertion of form in our lives, creating delusions and prejudices that prevent us from being permeable and open to opportunities and experiences in life. The idea of nothingness or mu is a large constituent of Zen Buddhism, but you can’t simply embrace nothingness. As Merton aptly puts it, “doctrine was not a doctrine but a way of being in the world”(Merton, 110).  At face value, this is extremely hard for me to understand. Where do you draw the line between knowing and being? I think a lot of has to do with completely relinquishing all that you have been accustomed to and strived to be, which for me is seems to be extremely difficult. I think the idea of the Zen garden that the Professor discussed in class was very interesting. We talked that a Zen garden is both the capability of being a sign and a symbol, because it is interactive (Lecture 2/11).  I feel as if the garden then is a living embodiment of the ever-changing boundary of evanescence and form. Something like the garden is so concrete yet can be regarded as spiritual. The idea that this epitomizes Zen tells me that a lot of what the philosophy has to do with is extinguishing that boundary. I think this also has a lot to do with the customs and culture of the Japanese, as Inouye aptly says that the Japanese, “confirm their status by affirming the visual field properly and appropriately”(Inouye, 57).  This makes me think that nothingness isn’t about absolute nothing, but just relinquishing of all connections and boundaries. We discussed in class that something everyone has in common is nothing (Lecture 2/13). With this being said, if someone relinquishes their boundaries, prejudices and delusions, there is nothing left, and I feel that is what Professor Inouye may have been talking about.

-Krishna Soni

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One Response to Empty

  1. I found the zen garden to be a very interesting concept as well. The way it can form a bridge between here-and-now and the metaphysical, and as you said embodies the changing boundaries between evanescence and for, make it a very powerful idea. I really like how this lead you to the conclusion that nothingness is relinquishing all boundaries. This is the way I have been understanding this difficult abstract concept as well.

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