Mastodon Zen & The Art Of Tristan und Isolde - The Wagnerian

Zen & The Art Of Tristan und Isolde

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday 29 January 2017 | 2:52:00 pm

There is, at the moment,  much talk of "walls" and segregation, enemies and"vetting", "the other", you/me, them/us snowflakes/patriots, fake and real  facts. I was contemplating all of  this while only half listening to Tristan this very morning - never the best way to listen to any good music of course; especially Wagner. But then, suddenly and upon hearing "O sink' hernieder, Nacht der Liebe", my mind was drawn elsewhere. Not, as one might expect, to Schopenhauer but instead to a  passage in Zen Monk, D T Suzuki's "Zen Mind, Beginners Mind" - if only half remembered. Why Suzuki and not Schopenhauer? Perhaps something to do with the aforementioned duality so readily found in the news at present? Whatever.  I thought you might like to experience the same juxtaposition - if it really is much of a juxtaposition. As another person, much fond of generating "others" - and a fear of them - might say; enjoy!

I went to Yosemite National Park, and I saw some huge waterfalls. The highest one there is 1,340 feet high, and from it the water comes down like a curtain thrown from the top of the mountain. It does not seem to come down swiftly, as you might expect; it seems to come down very slowly because of the distance. And the water does not come down as one stream, but is separated into many tiny streams. From a distance it looks like a curtain. And I thought it must be a very difficult experience for each drop of water to come down from the top of such a high mountain. It takes time, you know, a long time, for the water finally to reach the bottom of the waterfall. And it seems to me that our human life may be like this. We have many difficult experiences in our life. But at the same time, I thought, the water was not originally separated, but was one whole river. Only when it is separated does it have some difficulty in falling. It is as if the water does not have any feeling when it is one whole river. Only when separated into many drops can it begin to have or to express some feeling. When we see one whole river we do not feel the living activity of the water, but when we dip a part of the water into a dipper, we experience some feeling of the water, and we also feel the value of the person who uses the water. Feeling ourselves and the water in this way, we cannot use it in just a material way. It is a living thing.  

D. T. Suzuki

Before we were born we had no feeling; we were one with the universe. This is called "mind-only," or "essence of mind," or "big mind," After we are separated by birth from this oneness, as the water falling from the waterfall is separated by the wind and rocks, then we have feeling. You have difficulty because you have feeling. You attach to the feeling you have without knowing just how this kind of feeling is created. When you do not realize that you are one with the river, or one with the universe, you have fear. Whether it is separated into drops or not, water is water.   

D T Suzuki' "Zen Mind, Beginners Mind