I walked in the snow to Dewick for lunch, noticing the trees besides Asian American Center.
Falling on the tree
White on the green
To quote D.T.Suzuki, nothingness or emptiness is a state of “seeing into the nonexistence of a thingish ego-substance” (Merton, 109). Here, nothingness means being completely receptive to surroundings, and therefore “to be absolutely nothing is to be everything” (Merton, 109). How can one reach such state? According to Zen Buddhism, the answer, somewhat counter intuitively and paradoxically, lies in form or kata. The importance of form is a result of a mix of conventional Buddhism and Japanese indigenous animism. Buddhism in Japan is unique in that form is prioritized instead of script. For instance, the Pure Land school teaches believers to chant nenbutsu repeatedly while Zen school focuses on the right way to do certain things. Form is so vital because it establishes an order of here-and-now, which accords with the traditional Japanese animistic and nonsymbolic understanding of world. Form gives meaning to life because it is unchanging in this fleeting world. Form also defines reality. Different forms would lead to different realities, which is why in Japan form is equally important as essence. Given the indispensability of form, it is no wonder that in order to become a master, one needs to start from the basic form and repeat it until it flows. The Noh theater is an epitome of such form-nothingness process. The Noh theater is extremely formal. However, when the actor excels at those forms, he would “hold his audience spellbound during those moments when he himself is completely motionless” and “the single intance becomes an expansive and inclusive mystery, a moment of yugen”(Inouye, 68). That is when nothingness is achieved. Everything including emotions and thoughts flow from the rigidity of form. Now, I think this very exercise is a practice of form. Through the repetition of such rigid practice, hopefully, we would achieve some degree of nothingness in the end.