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Sunday, 6 January 2019

Songs on Sunday: Introduction to Zen Buddhism

First, there is a mountain,
Then, there is no mountain,
Then, there is.

The caterpillar sheds his skin to find a butterfly within.

Would you like more of an explanation?

No? Fine. Have some philosophy of politics and some logic.

Yes? Okay.

As I see it, we begin with our natural habit of labelling. This here, this is a mountain. Once we have been properly socialised, when we therefore see said physical manifestation (hills notwithstanding) we 'see' the label of mountain.

After, we have analysed this thought process, this socialisation of identification, we might then see the landmark and having unlearned what we have learned 'see' no mountain. Seeing instead what is there, which is not what the human language label says, it is not literally mountain as this is merely our language code for identification. Nor is it der Berg or le Montagne or Yama or any other language's term. What it is, is not a linguistic term. Through philosophical thought you have negated the linguistic mountain, now there is now no mountain.

But it is still there. It is after all existent reality. There is a large rock* there, you see it. (*Yes, it's not just a 'rock' but 'rocky shape' sounds no better) You have not made the mountain by naming it, it always had existence as it has existed, and one way of taking the 'third phase' here (as many do) is that the Zen Buddhist has 'over-intellectualised' matters and has now (in the third phase) returned to 'true' direct reality.

I think that this is not the case. It is not a matter of returning to the status quo unchanged. When we return to the 'there is' we are returning now (having been through phases one and two) as one whose usage of 'mountain' now accepts that it is a human label used merely as a tool for communication (i.e. what language is) rather than the true meaning of the existent 'object'. Existence lives around us, with us or without us, with language or without. There is a mountain.