Cud quotes: Zen, art, and Gaston Bachelard

by Titus OBrien October 6, 2008
During the day, when my fingers can’t take zip-tying steel cable anymore (the latest sculptural (mis?)adventure), I’ve been reading Gaston Bachelard. At night, after zazen, I’m reading the autobiography of the first Zen master to live and teach in the US, Sokei-an Sasaki. The overlap is striking.
“Knowing must be accompanied by an equal capacity to forget knowing.”
                        Jean Lescure, as quoted by GB.

“In poetry, non-knowing is a primal condition; if there exists a skill in the writing of poetry, it is in the minor task of associating images. But the tentative life of the image is in its dazzling splendor, in fact that an image is a transcending of all the premises of sensibility.”


“Only go straight, Don’t-Know!”
                        Seung Sahn, Dae Soen Sa Nim

“The creative act should offer…as much surprise as life itself…art then is an increase of life, a sort of competition of surprises that stimulate our consciousness and keeps it from becoming somnolent.”

“I went to visit Soyen Shaku, the abbott of Engaku Zen Temple…the first moment of this interview his two shining eyes pierced my mind through and through. I stood in silence, aghast! …He questioned me about what I wished to become. “I am studying art,” I replied. “I am learning to carve Buddhistic statues.” He looked into my eyes again and said, “Carve a Buddha statue for me when you become a famous artist.” And he gave us tea and cakes.

“Later, I carved a Buddha statue and brought it to him. He cried “What is this?” and chucked it out the window into a pond. He meant that I should carve myself into a Buddha.

“Just not-knowing; that is all.”

(Soyen Shaku)

1 comment

1 comment

Andy Feehan November 4, 2008 - 00:29

Hi, Titus. A friend in Seattle sent me this. I’d like to share it with everybody.

Best wishes.



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