The Economy of Innocence / Linguistics of Emptiness


Thomas Merton,in Zen and the Birds of Appetite

The notion of innocence (which he offers as a translation for « emptiness ») through economic terms : being innocent is being poor.
Merton quotes Meister Eckart, as he said poverty was ‘having nothing, knowing nothing, wanting nothing.’
We could add another parallel line to this economic explanations and observe that this state of innocence, poverty and, in the same movement, attempt a glimpse at the Buddhist ‘emptiness” through a linguistic angle.
Poverty / innocence / emptiness
Is the absence of object, of subject and the absence of verb

I eat an apple
I eat
eat



Therefore restoring the infinite potential and abide in a place below the room of words.
Poverty/innocence have the full space to welcome/meet reality, God, the Spirit,
This is pure faith
And pure extinction

©FJ Nov.2020
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Many thanks to all

4 commentaires

  1. I have come across many a materially poor person who is far from innocent by any usual standard.

    Maybe such are merely incidentally rather than willingly poor.

    For so some reason, this has put me in mind of a well known Greek quotation, apparently from the tomb of Nikos Katzantzakis, which translates as:

    « I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am a free man »
    (Δεν ελπίζω τίποτα, δε φοβούμαι τίποτα, είμαι λέφτερος)

    Aimé par 1 personne

    1. It would be hard for me to comment on this particular type of profiles your are familiar with, through your professional activity, I assume…
      But as you suggested, their material deprivation does not appear to be accepted, chosen as a path to liberation.
      Desire, eagerness are still at the core of such people action, maybe.

      This quotation reminds me of the early line of the Shi Jin Mei :
      translated here by D.T. Suzuki :

      The Perfect Way knows no
      difficulties
      Except that it refuses to make
      preferences;
      Only when freed from hate and
      love,
      It reveals itself fully and
      without disguise…

      (hate and love = identification / rejection)

      I love the bluntness which perspire from the quote you shared…Such candour could really fit in the Zen body of teachings.
      …though fitting there is not an end in itself.

      This morning I read — for some reason still unknown to me — the famous passage in
      1 Corinthians, 13 : « Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. »..and I wondered what word was this ‘love ‘ translated from’ : i know that Greek has many options here.
      The context would orient toward Agape
      (when it is often understood – at least by French people) as Eros or philia…you certainly can shed light on this point.
      The more I ‘stayed’ with this text the less difference I’ve been able to stress with what we refer in meditation practices « simply » as Space.
      Or the four divine abodes. (Brahmaviharas)

      Hoping for / fearing nothing.
      This is liberation from attachment to …
      Liberation from Tanha (thirst / wanting (hope for) / not wanting (fear of)
      Now, the practical aspect is quite a different kettle of fish.

      Applying this hope for/ fear nothing sentence to our spiritual practice is certainly a liberating practice.
      I once have myself been this disciple hoping for official ‘dubbing’ and fearing to say something which would disqualify me as such.
      Not a free man at all…though quite likely to think of myself as ….

      Aimé par 1 personne

  2. Briefly, as I have little time this week.

    Αγάπη & έρως (the latter being also the name of a deity) seem to me to be less distinct than claimed by those with theological axes to grind. Were I to say to my wife, in Greek, « I love you », chances are would say « Σ’ αγαπάω », using the verb form of αγάπη. Whilst there is a distinction of emphasis between sexual and non-sexual « love », I don’t think it is quite so clear cut as may be assumed. Φιλιά is better rendered as « friendship », to my mind.

    Aimé par 1 personne

    1. very interesting,
      Thank you Simon.
      I love these ‘do-not-mind-it’s-all-the-same’ kind of answers.
      Especially when uttered by men of law who surely know their ways around agendas, lingo and taxonomy.
      Let’s hope we remain deprived of theological axes to grind.

      Aimé par 1 personne

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