Vol XLX, No 11
“ Ishi ga nagarete kono ha ga shizumu
when leaves sink and rocks flow downstream
This Buddhist-inspired Japanese proverb points to a different reality than
what is normally perceived.
Normally, leaves float downstream and rocks sink. That is how we all perceive
the normal world – a
subject (I, me) perceives an exterior and separate object (he, she, it) and
life is the relationship between
the two. From this point of view then, the more control you have over yourself
and objects perceived the
greater sense of security you have.
The problem of course, is that control and the need to control is
a cycle of friction and pain that feeds upon itself. It produces
anxieties that increase geometrically. Complete control is impossible
but the attempt to control creates a greater need to control
since the absence of control is seen to be the cause of my anxieties.
Thus we are caught in a self-made treadmill seeing no
other alternative but to run faster and faster. This is normal.
But what seems normal is not necessarily natural. In Buddhism
natural is leaves sinking and rocks flowing downstream. This
is pointing to a different reality in which opposites are not resolved
through reason and objectivity but experienced as living paradox. It
is the encounter with a reality that is inexplicable yet which
impels us to explain or express it. The attempt to explain or express
that which cannot be explained or expressed is called art – and in
this sense all art is religious. This natural world uses a different
language from the scientific or objective world or the emotional
world: paradox; mystery; unconscious- consciousness; consciousunconsciousness;
not one, yet not two; to be able to see, hear, and
taste but never grasp; Jodoshinshu evens adds the word
inconceivable, yet knowable. These words are in the category
of trying to express this newly perceived reality and trying to
give it a form or sound. Although all religions connected to this natural
reality produce art, not all art is connected to this reality. In
Jodoshinshu, flowers, the left hand, the outer, the I vs. you, etc.
is represented by Namo. The candlelight, the right hand, the inner,
the I equals and, at the same time does not equal you, etc. is
represented by Amidabutsu Namo is my normal world of
Samsaric delusion, Amidabutsu is the natural world of true Reality,
and Namoamidabutsu is what I really am. And sooner or later,
depending upon how much I need to be in control, Namoamidabutsu
will say me, and this sinking rock will begin to float downstream.