Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Rescue from Gorgon

Text was published in "Signal", Belgrade, 2003.
Tekst je objavljen u "Signalu", Beograd, 2003.

Rescued from the Gorgon's Gaze

(A short autobiographical Zen-analysis)


Is Zen named after Zeno?[1] This is the false question which directs us to the true answer. Likewise is the question: Is Descartes a rationalist? And the answer is: yes, Zen gets its name from Zeno and no, Descartes is not a rationalist.

Since my first encounter with Zen, through Suzuki's and From's essay, "Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis", Devide's "Haiku" and Kerouac's "On The Road", more than half my life has gone by. In the meantime, I lacked the intelligence to comprehend that Castaneda's teachings are not only 99% Zen, but a full 100%, and probably more, but this also, I understood in the end, just by translating into Serbian one book of Daisetz' essays on Zen.

Because the answer to a question about the meaning of life is always “42”[2], it is impossible not to conclude that Zen helped in finding out that answer, at least when it comes to my humble self.

In the beginning, Zen appeared to me to be something happy and carefree, but simultaneously powerful and elastic. As Zen is usually being compared with western philosophy, western philosophy, in accordance with the given equation, always looked, to me, like something exceptionally boring and overly strict. But my little life was engaged in, despite my disgust with the West, clearing up some special aspects of this ever-present conflict between Zen (East) and West.

I must now speak of how I think the relationship between Zen and western philosophy is, in fact, a false dilemma. In truth, it turned out that the concept of western philosophy is not really a true philosophy, but a lie, a false pretense. When one, in this context, thinks "West", one well understands "rationalism". Western rationalism relates to Zen as if it were a grain of pepper - Zen is something interesting - small, but spicy. And that is all. Because rationalism cannot at all move farther than that - rationalistic analysis is very shallow - empirical, so to speak.

Zen probably helped me comprehend to what degree the West is a plain “lie and mimicry”. While I was reading Descartes' "Meditations", I always felt, somehow, abused by "assertions" that Descartes is "the father of western rationalism". On the other hand, my experience, told me beyond a doubt, that Descartes is a mystic, an existential philosopher. In his own meditations, he came up with the same results and conclusions as Gotama Buddha, more than two thousand years before. Gotama, also, was certainly a master analyst. However, no one ever called him "the father of eastern rationalism". Carefully, I concentrated on René's statement "cogito ergo sum"[3]. Someone undoubtedly, tendentiously, translated cogito as "think" (it is a convention, actually). But cogito, in fact, means "know". This falsehood is the foundation of the whole of western rationalism, and it turns out that when Zen is compared to this false "existence" it is being degraded to the same level and thus rendered valueless. And because Zen is the philosophy of Existence, it is clear that the goal of this deception is to devaluate people's existence, and to bring it into the function of a false idea and nothing more than "just" the idea of life. But it isn't necessary to defend René from the rationalistic monster. His "provisional morals"[4] represent the same "method of living" as prescribed by don Juan as "rules of stalking"[5] or Jung's "process of individuation", or even Eckhart's claim that "man must not explain (rationalize) this conduct - because man is, before all, the active principle which acts upon its freedom and not on the basis of its ratio.

It goes without saying that the one who set for himself as a goal: to "understand" the meaning of life, does not find himself in danger of transforming into a stone before this kind of hard rationalistic view, for which the old Greeks had found an appropriate symbol.

Among other things, Zen also means: Shutting up (the snout of the) Eloquent Force - which, therefore, includes Zen among the martial arts. Zen's specialty is a hard blow on the mouth with a bamboo stick, when the mouth begins to vomit disgusting things (about which Jesus also spoke and worked on during his own time and to which he made a considerable contribution)[6]. It is interesting enough to remind ourselves that Nietzsche also stated aloud his desire to use the hammer, instead of the tuning fork, and play with it on the Symbols. Zen is, therefore, also a musical discipline.

That Zen is a musical discipline, can be attested to by anyone who listens to Bach's music. Just listening to his music, a person can experience "satori - sudden enlightenment" - realizing that: forms do not arise one from another, but Someone else creates them.

This is really a significant discovery in the life of an individual. The consequence of this understanding is that one's life is fundamentally changed as well as one's attitude towards life. Namely, the cause of life is not only in life, and accordingly, life is not at all essential.

Now is an opportunity to return to Zeno, who, although he is recognized for his Zen-aporias (desolations), should be more well-known for his final confrontation with death. According to extremely unreliable source(s) (Hegel[7]), Zeno's last living action was to bite off his own tongue and spit it at the face of his tyrant-tormentor, who later crushed him in a big mortar - but, this was also this tyrant's own last act, because his own followers, disgusted with his deed, beat him down. This condensed story about life can easily be compared to the story of the Zen master who refused to give up a deserter, and was rewarded by being burnt along with his temple - with a smile on his face. And as ratio cannot deal with aporias in the end, so it cannot deal with life in the end - these two histories are clearly models for speaking about truth and lies. It is now completely clear that because of this, Socrates did not run to "save" his wretched life, but he gladly (in Zen[8]) rode into death.

Zen is a way to confront death, to comprehend a stone as an "eternal fire"[9] and to force 2 and 2 to become 5.[10] That is the way to break out of the boundaries which ratio prescribes and that frees one from fear of responsibility, to breath where we will.[11]



[1] Zeno of Elea.
[2] See „Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy“, Douglas Adams.
[3] “I know therefore I am”.
[4] See “The Discourse on the Method…”.
[5] See “The Eagle’s Gift, C. Castaneda.
[6] See “Gospels”.
[7] Hegel’s source was Diogenes Laertius.
[8]Zen” is a Japanese way of saying “chan” and “chan” is a Chinese way of pronouncing a Sanskrit term “dhyana” and each of these words means the same: bliss.
[9] Heraclites.
[10] Dostoyevsky.
[11] “The spirit breathes where it will” – from the “New Testament”.



Spasavanje od Gorgoninog pogleda

(kratka autobiografska zen-analiza)


Da li je zen dobio ime po Zenonu? Ovo je lažno pitanje koje upućuje na pravi odgovor. Slično je i pitanje: Da li je Dekart zaista racionalista? A odgovor je: Da, zen jeste dobio ime po Zenonu, a Dekart nije racionalista.

Od mog prvog susreta sa zenom, preko Suzukijevog i Fromovog eseja „Zen budizam i psihoanaliza“, Devideove knjige „Haiku“ i Kerouakovog „On the Road“, prošlo je više od pola života. U međuvremenu mi je nedostajalo pameti da shvatim da Kastanedina učenja nisu samo 99 posto zen, već svih 100 posto, a verovatno i više, ali i to sam na kraju shvatio, upravo prevodeći na srpski jednu knjigu Dajzecovih[1] eseja o zenu.

Pošto je odgovor na pitanje o smislu života uvek „42“[2], nemoguće je ne zaključiti da je zen pomogao u nalaženju tog odgovora, barem kada se radi o mojoj malenkosti.

U početku, zen mi je izgledao kao nešto veselo i bezbrižno, a istovremeno snažno i elastično. Kako se zen gotovo uvek poredi sa Zapadnom filozofijom, Zapadna filozofija mi je, shodno zadatoj jednačini, izgledala kao nešto izuzetno dosadno i preterano kruto. Ali moj maleni život bavio se, uprkos te odvratnosti prema Zapadu, razjašnjavanjem nekih posebnih aspekata ovog vazda prisutnog sukobljavanja zen(Istok)-Zapad.

Moram da kažem kako sada smatram da je odnos između zena i Zapadne filozofije zapravo lažna dilema. Zaista se ispostavilo da pojam Zapadna filozofija ne podrazumeva istinsku filozofiju, nego jednu laž, lažno predstavljanje. Kada se u ovom kontekstu misli „Zapad“, podrazumeva se „racionalizam“. Zapadni racionalizam se odnosi prema zenu kao prema zrnu bibera - zen je nešto zanimljivo, malo ali ljuto. I to je sve. Zato što racionalizam nikako ne može da mrdne dalje od toga - racionalistička analiza je vrlo plitka - tako reći „empirijska“.

Verovatno mi je zen pomogao da shvatim koliko je taj i takav Zapad obična „laž i mimikrija“[3]. Dok sam čitao Dekartove „Meditacije“, stalno me je maltretirala „tvrdnja“ (odnekud) da je Dekart „otac Zapadnog racionalizma“. S druge strane, moje iskustvo mi je nedvosmisleno govorilo da je Dekart zapravo mistik, filozof egzistencije. U svojim meditacijama on dolazi do istih rezultata i zaključaka do kojih je došao i Gotama Buda još pre dve i po hiljade godina. A Gotama je svakako bio majstor-analitičar. Međutim, njega niko nikada nije nazvao „ocem Istočnjačkog racionalizma“. Pažljivo sam se usredsredio na Reneovu izjavu “cogito ergo sum[4]. Neko je, van svake sumnje tendenciozno, pre-tumačio „cogito“ kao „mislim“ (ali to je samo konvencija). A „cogito“ zapravo znači „znam“. Ova laž služi kao temelj čitavom racionalističkom Zapadu, pa onda ispada da se i zen, poredeći se sa ovim lažnim Postojanjem, srozava u istu ravan i time potpuno obezvređuje. A pošto je zen filozofija postojanja, jasno je da je cilj ovog marifetluka da se obezvredi ljudsko postojanje i da se isto dovede u funkciju jedne lažne predstave i ništa više nego „samo“ predstave o životu. Ali nije potrebno braniti Renea od racionalističkog čudovišta. Njegov „provizorni moral[5] predstavlja isti onaj „metod življenja“ kakav propisuje don Huan kao „pravila prikradanja“[6], ili Jungov „proces individuacije“, ili pak Ekhartova tvrdnja da „čovek ne mora da objašnjava (racionališe) svoje postupke“ - jer čovek je pre svega aktivni princip koji deluje na osnovu svoje slobode, a ne na osnovu svog ratio.

Razume se, onaj koji je sebi postavio kao cilj da „shvati“ smisao života, ne nalazi se u opasnosti da se pretvori u kamen pred ovakvim tvrdim racionalističkim pogledom, za koji su još stari Grci iznašli odgovarajući Simbol[7].

Između ostalih stvari, zen znači i: Začepi (gubicu) Elokventnom Nasilju - što zen uvrštava u red borbenih veština. Specijalnost zena je udarac po ustima tvrdim bambusovim štapom kada usta počnu da bljuju gadosti (o čemu je i Isus govorio i radio u svoje vreme i dao značajan doprinos)[8]. Interesantno je podsetiti se da je i Niče glasno iskazao želju da „čekićem, umesto muzičkom viljuškom, zasvira po Simbolima“. Zen je, dakle, i muzička disciplina.

Da je zen muzička disciplina uveriće se svako ko sluša Bahovu muziku. Samo (prosto) slušajući njegovu muziku čovek doživljava „satori - iznenadno prosvetljenje“ - saznajući da: oblici ne nastaju jedni iz drugih, već njih Neko stvara.

Ovo je zaista značajno otkriće u životu pojedinca. Posledica ovakvog saznanja iz temelja menja život i odnos prema životu. Naime, uzrok života nije u samom životu, pa prema tome, život uopšte nije bitan.

Sada je prilika da se vratim Zenonu, koji bi, iako je poznat po svojim zen-aporijama (bespućima), trebalo da bude još poznatiji po svom konačnom suočenju sa smrću. Prema krajnje nepouzdanom izvoru (Hegel), Zenonovo poslednje životno delo bilo je da je odgrizao svoj sopstveni jezik i pljunuo ga u lice tiraninu-mučitelju, koji ga je potom živog stucao u stupi - a i ovome je to bilo poslednje, jer su ga njegovi sopstveni obožavaoci, zgroženi tim postupkom, umlatili. Ova sažeta priča o životu lako se poredi sa pričom o zen-učitelju, koji je odbio da preda begunca vojsci zločinaca i za nagradu izgoreo zajedno sa svojim hramom - osmehujući se. I kao što ratio ne može da izađe na kraj sa aporijama, tako ne može da izađe na kraj ni sa životom - ova dva istorijska primera jasno govore o istini i laži. Razume se, sada je potpuno jasno i zbog čega Sokrat nije potrčao da „spase“ svoj bedni život, već je radosno (u zenu[9]) odjahao u smrt.

Zen je način da se suočimo sa smrću, da kamen shvatimo kao „večnu vatru“[10] i da nateramo 2 i 2 da budu 5[11]. To je način da se iskorači iz torova koje propisuje ratio i da se oslobodimo straha od odgovornosti, da „dišemo gde hoćemo“[12].

Slobodan Škerović
[1] Dajzec Teitaro Suzuki.
[2] Vidi „Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy“, Douglas Adams.
[3] EKV, „Tatoo“.
[4] „Znam dakle jesam“.
[5] Vidi „Rasprava o Metodi“.
[6] Vidi „Eagle’s Gift“, C. Castaneda.
[7] Gorgona Meduza.
[8] Vidi „Jevanđelja“.
[9] Reč „zen“ je japanska varijanta kineske reču „čan“, a ova pak imitacija sanskritske „dhyana“ - a svaka od njih znači isto: blaženstvo.
[10] Heraklit.
[11] Dostojevski.
[12] „Duh diše gde hoće“ - iz Novog Zaveta.

1 comment:

Neva said...

This is great info to know.