China Root- Taoism, Ch’an, and original Zen
I began my journey of Zen and Tao exploration decades ago. Spent a lot of time exploring books and hearing talks by some amazing people. Still, deep inside, I was relatively unconvinced that there was any common message between all the different schools and traditions. I knew there was something deeper in Zen and Tao that I was missing.
Not so long ago a few of my guides suggested it might be time to start exploring those stages of conditioning that occur when training and seeking information. This came under that heading, “If you meet the Buddha on the road slay him.” The idea being that once we cross a river we can stop dragging the boat. All language only points to what is, and sooner or later we will need to start moving away from those ideals and seek pure experience.
Enter David Hinton and “China Root.” An excellent book that, due to David’s unique and very solid interpretations of Chinese, lends a whole other explanation of the weave that occurred when Buddhism was modified by Taoism and became Zen. I was profoundly struck by David’s explanations concerning the difficulty in moving from an alphabetically based language to one that uses pictographs to convey direct connections between reality and the message. And how understandable so much of the resulting confusion is in interpretation.
The concept of presence and absence as an explanation of root Buddhist concepts tore into and shredded much of my confusion about Sutta’s and what they meant. A definite move from cosmic philosophy to empirical solid ground. Without losing the beauty and mystery. This one concept is priceless in additional understanding.
I personally love this book. To the extent that I recently started on a journey to learn some rudimentary Mandarin. David Hinton, Thank You!
Take care of you and all you love,