The Religion of the Samurai HTML version
1. Enlightenment is beyond Description and Analysis.
In the foregoing chapters we have had several occasions to refer to the central problem of
Zen or Enlightenment, whose content it is futile to attempt to explain or analyze. We
must not explain or analyze it, because by doing so we cannot but mislead the reader. We
can as well represent Enlightenment by means of explanation or analysis as we do
personality by snapshots or by anatomical operations. As our inner life, directly
experienced within us, is anything but the shape of the head, or the features of the face, or
the posture of the body, so Enlightenment experienced by Zenists at the moment of their
highest Samadhi[FN#178] is anything but the psychological analysis of mental process,
or the epistemological explanation of cognition, or the philosophical generalization of
concepts. Enlightenment can be realized only by the Enlightened, and baffles every
attempt to describe it, even by the Enlightened themselves. The effort of the confused to
guess at Enlightenment is often likened by the Zenists to the effort of the blind who feel
an elephant to know what it looks like. Some of them who happen to feel the trunk would
declare it is like a rope, but those who happen to feel the belly would declare it is like a
huge drum; while those who happen to feel the feet would declare it is like the trunk of a
tree. But none of these conjectures can approach the living elephant.
[FN#178] Abstract Contemplation, which the Zenists distinguish from Samadhi,
practised by the Brahmins. The author of 'An Outline of Buddhist Sects' points out the
distinction, saying: "Contemplation of outside religionists is practised with the heterodox
view that the lower worlds (the worlds for men, beasts, etc.) are disgusting, but the upper
worlds (the worlds for Devas) are desirable; Contemplation of common people (ordinary
lay believers of Buddhism) is practised with the belief in the law of Karma, and also with
disgust (for the lower worlds) and desire (for the upper worlds); Contemplation of
Hinayana is practised with an insight into the truth of Anatman (non-soul);
Contemplation of Mahayana is practised with an insight of Unreality of Atman (soul) as
well as of Dharma (thing); Contemplation of the highest perfection is practised with the
view that Mind is pure in its nature, it is endowed with unpolluted wisdom, free from
passion, and it is no other than Buddha himself."
2. Enlightenment implies an Insight into the Nature of Self.
We cannot pass over, however, this weighty problem without saying a word. We shall try
in this chapter to present Enlightenment before the reader in a roundabout way, just as the
painter gives the fragmentary sketches of a beautiful city, being unable to give even a
bird's-eye view of it. Enlightenment, first of all, implies an insight into the nature of Self.
It is an emancipation of mind from illusion concerning Self. All kinds of sin take root
deep in the misconception of Self, and putting forth the branches of lust, anger, and folly,
throw dark shadows on life. To extirpate this misconception Buddhism[FN#179] strongly
denies the existence of the individual soul as conceived by common sense-that is, that
unchanging spiritual entity provided with sight, hearing, touch, smell, feeling, thought,