Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thoughts of the Day #35/2011: Shin'ichi Hisamatsu (6)

Shinichi Hisamatsu (1889-1980)
(copyright owners please read p.s. at the bottom of this post)

Today, it is again Zen-Time. This time it is  again the japanese Zen-Master Shinichi Hisamatsu, who was a philosopher, a Zen-Buddhist and a Master of Japanese Tea-Ceremony. Hisamatsu is also known for his calligraphies. Hisamatsu had signed his calligraphies with the word "post-modernist" long before Lyotard came up with his idea of postmodernity. In the 1950's Hisamatsu founded a new Zen-Institut for his own brand of Zen, called F.A.S.-Zen. This is an abbreviation for Formless Self, Allmankind and Superhistorical history. Today I have chosen to post an excerpt of a text called "Zen as the negation of holiness" (jap. 1937, engl. 1977, translation Sally Merrill):

Th[e] True Buddha in Zen is referred to by different names and explained in various wasys, but I think it can be said to be the "Self which eliminates distinctions internally and goes beyond opposition externally". Only then can the Self of Zen be characterized as being "formless, penetrating the ten directions", "like empty space", "completely clear: not a single thing to be seen", or "the No Thing (Mu) outside the Mind, unobtainable even inside of it", or "One Mind only", "neither born nor extinguished, neither increasing nor decreasing", or "Mind in itself is Buddha".

The union of non-difference in Zen is a union of Buddha and man such that the True Man as such is not outside the True Buddha inasmuch as the True Buddha as such is not outside the True Man. The term "union" here merely involves one and the same thing and does not indicate a combined union of two different entities. If there were two entities, they could possibly be brought into combination. But since the Ture Buddha and the True Man are one and the same, it cannot be said to combine, or even unify.

This is the union spoken by the Sixth Patriarch in his so called "one form samadhi". In the "I" of the Zen there is no opposition externally and no discrimination internally, thus it is called "no thing". In this regard, the Sixth Patriarch says, "not a single thing", and Huang-po, "like empty space". In the Pi-yen chi it is referred to as "vastness". All of these are but differing expression for "no thing" in Zen. (...)

Zen however is not based on a "no thing" of mere self-negation. It is based on the "no thing" of the True Buddha, and as such, cannot be seen as an occasion for self-negation. (...) The crucial position of Zen is to affirm the "sacred in man" by retrieving the sacred form the reaches of transcendent views or objective forms and returning it to the folds of human subjectivity. Zen is not simply a rational position: it is a rational position paradoxically identical with non-rationality. It is not simply an immament position but one which takes up the position of transcendental immanence. The original nature of Zen as well as that of Mahayana Buddhism should be perceived in this way."

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