Saturday, June 14, 2008

Eastern Illumination

I have discarded the idea of abstraction in favor of the concept of eastern illumination or enlightenment. I will be the first to admit I don't know a lot about the religion, and I know there are several versions of it, but I like the idea of working towards peace within oneself.

Hongzhi Zhengjue
Hongzhi Zhengjue (宏智正覺 Japanese: Wanshi Zenji, 1091–1157) was a Chinese Chan Buddhist monk who authored or compiled several influential Buddhist texts. Hongzhi’s conception of “silent illumination” is of particular importance to the Chinese Caodong and Japanese Soto zen schools; however, Hongzhi was also the author of an important collection of koans, although koans are now usually associated with the Linji or Japanese Rinzai schools).
I know the poem below is a long one, but I think it gets to the heart of what I want to depict in this piece.
Guidepost of Silent Illumination
By Hongzhi Zhengjue
Silent and serene, forgetting words, bright clarity appears before you.
When you reflect it you become vast, where you embody it you are spiritually uplifted.
Spiritually solitary and shining, inner illumination restores wonder,Dew in the moonlight, a river of stars, snow-covered pines, clouds enveloping the peaks.
In darkness it is most bright, while hidden all the more manifest.
The crane dreams in the wintery mists.
The autumn waters flow far in the distance.
Endless kalpas are totally empty, all things are completely the same.
When wonder exists in serenity, all achievement is forgotten in illumination.
What is this wonder?
Alertly seeing through confusion
Is the way of silent illumination and the origin of subtle radiance.
Vision penetrating into subtle radiance is weaving gold on a jade loom.
Upright and inclined yield to each other; light and dark are interdependent.
Not depending on sense faculty and object, at the right time they interact.
Drink the medicine of good views.
Beat the poison-smeared drum.
When they interact, killing and giving life are up to you.
Through the gate the self emerges and the branches bear fruit
.Only silence is the supreme speech, only illumination the universal response.
Responding without falling into achievement, speaking without involving listeners.
The ten thousand forms majestically glisten and expound the dharma.
All objects certify it, every one in dialogue.
Dialoguing and certifying, they respond appropriately to each other;But if illumination neglects serenity then aggresiveness appears.
Certifying and dialoguing, they respond to to oeach other appropriately;But if serenity neglects illumination, murkiness leads to wasted dharma.
Whe silent illumination is fulfilled, the lotus blossoms, the dreamer awakens,A hundred streams flow into the ocean, a thousand ranges face the highest peak.
Like geese preferring milk, like bees gathering nectar,When silent illumination reaches the ultimate, I offer my teaching.
The teaching of silent illumination penetrates from the highest down to the foundation
.The body being shunyata, the arms in mudra,From beginning to end the changing appearances and then thousand differences share one pattern.Mr. Ho offered jade [to the Emperor]; [Minister] Xiangru pointed to its flaws.
Facing changes has its principles, the great function is without striving.
The ruler stays in the kingdom, the general goes beyond the frontiers
.Our school’s affair hits the mark straight and true.
Transmit it to all directions without desiring to gain credit.


Françoise said...

Karen, this is also the interpretation I want to give to this theme. But I have nothing to show yet.

Karen said...

I think it will be great if we both interpret it this way because I'm sure they will still be very different