Re: [TheHeathenInHisBlindness] The Way of Zen
- It is not worth dwelling upon whether the author's notion of knowledge is
defensible, whether Zen is a fulfillment, whether theoretical knowledge is
However, there is a tidbit: "a way of liberation can have no positive
definition". Why is it so? Talking about fulfillment and longings would not
do. He has to reflect upon the nature of, and the relation between,
language and the world--whether mental or not. And that he did not. Next
time, some author cites this and embellishes it with all irrelevant details.
The following posts could be of help wrt language and world.
On Sat, Jun 27, 2009 at 12:32 PM, ndevarshi <ndevarshi@...> wrote:
> Anyone ready to comment on this quote?
> The Philosophy of Tao
> an excerp from "The Way of Zen" by Allan Watts
> Zen Buddhism is a way and a view of life which does not belong to any of
> the formal categories of modern Western thought. It is not religion or
> philosophy; it is not a psychology or a type of science. It is an example of
> what is known in India and China as a "way of liberation," and is similar in
> this respect to Taoism, Vendanta, and Yoga.
> A way of liberation can have no positive definition. It has to be suggested
> by saying what is not, somewhat as a sculptor reveals an image by the act of
> removing pieces of stone from a block.
> Historically, Zen may be regarded as the fulfillment of long traditions of
> Indian and Chinese culture, though it is actually much more Chinese than
> Indian, and, since the twelfth century, it has rooted itself deeply and most
> creatively in the culture o f Japan. As the fruition of these great
> cultures, and as a unique and peculiarly instructive example of a way of
> liberation, Zen is one of the most precious gifts of Asia to the world.
> The origins of Zen are as much Taoist a Buddhist, and, because its flavor
> is so peculiarly Chinese, it may be best to begin by inquiring into its
> Chinese ancestry--illustrating, at the same time, what is meant by a way of
> liberation by the example of Taoism.
> Much of the difficulty and mystification which Zen presents to the Western
> student is the result of his unfamiliarity with Chinese way of
> thinking--ways which differ startlingly from our own and which are, for that
> very reason, of special value to us in attaining a critical perspective upon
> our own ideas. The problem here is not simply one of mastering different
> ideas, differing from our own as, say, the theories of Kant differ from
> those of Descartes, or those of Calvinists from those of Catholics. The
> problem is to appreciate differences in the basic premises of thought and in
> the very methods of thinking, and these are so often overlooked that our
> interpretations of Chinese philosophy are apt to be a projection of
> characteristically Western ideas into Chinese terminology. This is the
> inevitable disadvantage of studying Asian philosophy by the purely literary
> methods of Western scholarship, for words can be communicative only between
> those who share similar experiences.
> The reason why Taoism and Zen present, at first sight, such a puzzle to the
> Western mind is that we have taken a restricted view of human knowledge. For
> Westerners, almost all knowledge is what a Taoist would call conventional
> knowledge, because we do not feel that we really know anything unless we can
> represent it to ourselves in words, or in some other system of conventional
> signs such as the notations of mathematics or music. Such knowledge is
> called conventional because it is a matter of social a greement as to the
> codes of communication. Just as people speaking the same language have tacit
> agreement as to what words shall stand for what things, so the members of
> every society and every culture are united by bonds of communication resting
> upon all kinds of agreement as to the classification and valuation of action
> and things."
> I picked up the English original from this website :
> Yahoo! Groups Links
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
--- In TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com, vnr1995 <vnr1995@...> wrote:
"a way of liberation can have no positive > definition". Why is it so? Talking about fulfillment and longings would not > do. He has to reflect upon the nature of, and the relation between, > language and the world--whether mental or not. And that he did not. Next > time, some author cites this and embellishes it with all irrelevant details.
> The following posts could be of help wrt language and world.
Vnr - I've read this book and found it to be excellent. Alan Watts had likely done all of the appropriate reflection and practice that you accuse him of not doing. While it's always nice to re-visit old posts, this is only *one* way of understanding something or talking about something. There are many other ways, some of them sound like nonsense (like koans) but can be very useful. I wouldn't pounce on a single sentence like "a way of liberation can have no positive definition" because such a sentence is more meaningful to most than saying things like "truth is a property of propositions" which is meaningful only to a few and leaves most people cold.