Nothingness

By Julia Russell

Nothing this week. A little sad to look back on almost ten days and wonder what I was so wrapped up in that I didn’t have a minute-long lyrical experience.

 

We focused on a major contradiction this week: “Nothing is everything. Everything is nothing” (Lecture 2/11). Well, great. I think I came to a basic understand of the concept, though, after discussing that nothing is something we all have in common. The idea of nothingness is a major facet of Zen Buddhism, in which one has to experience Emptiness. But you can’t just wish yourself into Emptiness, it’s “Emptiness as Being” (Merton, 110). Merton also stresses that Buddha’s “doctrine was not a doctrine but a way of being in the world” (Merton, 79). That phrase is a bit of an oversimplification, because a person still needs to follow the proper form in order to be in this world in the necessary way. The Japanese “confirm their status by affirming the visual field properly and appropriately” (Inouye, 57). So we have to open ourselves up to a space, be aware of the changing world around us, but still retain the proper etiquette while doing so. The highly formalized Noh theater is a good example of this: every action is deliberate, even in a very “fluid” space (Lecture 2/13). By repeating behavior exactly as we’re meant to, we can become a part of the space around us. One of my classmates said this week that while you’re performing your routines, you eventually “tap into” god. I really liked that sentiment; it means that you don’t have to be constantly engaged in religion to have a mystical experience.  If you live the proper way, according to the rules of this world, you and god (God?) will eventually come to a meeting point.

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