Sunday, November 01, 2009

Nobody home

It is sometimes said that Japanese culture is focused on the concept of emptiness. For example, some statues of worship in the Buddhist tradition in Japan is kept as "Hibutsu" or "Secret Buddha" (The Qualia Journal, 3rd July 2009).

A relative secret Buddha can be shown to public from time to time, whereas an absolute secret Buddha should never be shown.

A famous example of secret Buddha in the absolute sense is the "Gohonzon" (main statue of worship) of Zenkoji temple in Nagano. Nobody has seen or dared to see the figure in the recorded history, including the Buddhist priests that jealously guard the reclusive object of worship, which is rumored to be tightly wrapped up with white cloth.

The idea of secret Buddha is said to have been inspired by the Shinto tradition, where it is the norm that the object of worship is not explicitly shown. Sometimes natural landscapes such as a mountain is designated as the object of worship. Thus, the concept of emptiness is deeply rooted in the Japanese tradition.

On the way to a conference in Kagoshima yesterday, I was thinking again about emptiness. Everybody knows that the brain is the seat for mental phenomena. However, if you look into the inside of human brain, you find nothing but an endless network of neurons connected to each other through the synapses, with the glial cells filling the gap. The brain is thus "empty", as far as mental activities are concerned. No light illuminates the enchanted loom, and there is nobody home.

That the essence of mentality is actually emptiness is frightening on the surface but an ultimately reassuring thought. If the truth is to be found in emptiness, then we can access to an infinite source of freedom.

Nobody is home.

But then that is where our spiritual home is.


1 comment:

Shinji Okada said...

"Blessings for the God of Emptiness"

Shinji Okada
O'cnoc Baile
Universal Locality
Fukuyama Hiroshima