Imagery In Zen
We hear the word: dog. The entire Universe of opportunities has been reduced by 99.99%. That is, popcorn, sea slugs, grass, tiles, and everything else in the Cosmos do not form in our thoughts.
All words are placeholders for detail. In the example above, hundreds of details are missing. This is the old game of twenty questions constantly “halving” the universe to surround the answer in question.
We must inculcate. That is we must experience mutual understanding in a somewhat penetrating way to gain insight and be able to intuit into the next moment. We work with wobbly features and much of the time exchanging words afford Dukkha.
In Zen this is more and less the case. It is more by way of translations from Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, and Japanese. As I age my memory slips and slides and my at best poor pronunciation of terms and names of ancestors escape me, a spontaneous clueless condition lasting for several seconds. Then Koans add to the dimensional difficulties…a mountain was a mountain, then not a mountain and therefore can be a mountain again. However it is less as I continue living by Vow which is less bothersome…”Just Forgot” now rivals “Just Don’t Know.”
Moreso it is that words conjure pictures, or images. Hearing or seeing the word TREE, we may pass over it quickly as we catch he meaning or be stopped in thought about trees as the end all and beall of in-depth thought and conversation–we live for trees for moments on end
Reaching the point that friends say to us…”can you please stop talking about trees!”
Zen is not based on words but experience. The flower offering of the Buddha is like sending a radio message into space. Will it be gotten? Mahakasyapa received not the word or even the image but experienced the sense of why and what it is to communicate as a process. He got it at the level of the marrow. This point is a practical. You SEE, if you pause in reading or speaking allowing a few seconds or minutes to unfold the word, it will become-So, or Thus = Inmo (look it up).
Family legends offer an immersion in this approach. For example in my family there is the legend of my great aunt Suzie being a “Bootlegger.” The words being uttered revealed much about her, my family, the times in which it occurred, danger, and laughter all at the same time.
So Zen is the term for our “Being-The-Moment,” rather than being in the movement. Being thus (Inmo)--I meet me at the moment. No description, variation, or loss of memory, just an unfolding of deeping awareness returning to something now deeply remembered all along…