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art Philosophy Psychology

Deconstructing Self in Zen

We internalise the projected structure and logical matrix of the world, of our understanding and when that narrative is no longer anchored in any concrete sense in the world, in perception or belief, we are ourselves cast adrift…

Context: reflections on Self and Zen/Ch’an in art and literature

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When the narrative, the meaning, the semantic architecture of the text or the image is fundamentally ambiguous – the semantic locus or source of meaning becomes the interpreter; the meaning-maker themselves become the focus and in this dissolves that perspective and projected reality through which their own existence, consciouness, intelligence and subjectivity is reflexively defined.

sesshu

We are defined to ourselves and to each other through that external and shared all-too-human narrative and logic that we have projected upon (and mistaken for) the world and through internalising this, have mistaken for a pre-existing Reality or Order/Logic. We internalise the projected structure and logical matrix of the world, of our understanding and when that narrative is no longer anchored in any concrete sense in the world, in perception or belief, we are ourselves cast adrift. Dissolving the logic and machinery of the Self, we return to an uncomplicated condition of acting, moving, being; without the endless layers of doubt or hesitation instilled by our rationalising, discerning intellect. This is particularly well portrayed in Takuan Soho’s letters to the sword masters recorded in “The Unfettered Mind“.  This is also the essential beauty and power of traditional painting in the Zen and Ch’an traditions

ma-yuan_on-a-mountain-path-in-spring
The mirror of the Void reflects nothing in particular.

3 replies on “Deconstructing Self in Zen”

[…] This is not to say that life is without value – far from it. The shift in perspective is more to acknowledge that the implicit value and beauty of this experience is, has been, the extent to which the only logical way an entire Universe can manifest in any singular point or entity is precisely as such an emptiness and enigmatic vacuum. There is something in this of the mystery of a self-contained Cosmological mystery in which the essence and core could only ever be, has always only ever been, nothing at all. […]

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