Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Seeing rocks

It is understood by the Zen mind that the senses cannot grasp reality from one viewpoint. For example, the Zen garden at Ryōanji, a Zen temple near Kyoto, appears as a few rocks and some sand. The garden begins to make some sense when you realize that from your vantage point you cannot quite see all the rocks. You might also notice that you are picking out only the rocks to look at. Is not all that sand just as important? What if it were all rocks? Would you be trying as hard to see all the rocks?

—from The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi
Many years ago I went through a phase of reading numerous books on Zen, for whatever that's worth. I read Five Rings several years before that. My paperback copy has pages yellowed with age, and was printed in 1982. This may have been one of the first books I read with the deliberate intention of reshaping my own mind, changing how I viewed the world and how my thought processes worked. One of the first things I did when unboxing books from the house move was stacking certain books in a special shelf, and this is one of the books that goes on that shelf (along with the Illuminatus! trilogy), which may give you a rough idea of the kinds of books that shelf holds.

I bought it new, and read it when I bought it. Twenty-six years on now, and it may be time to read it again.

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