The Way of Zen-Masterpiece of Ideas

by Mary Kay McBrayer, The West georgian, Feb 11, 2009

Carrollton, Georgia (USA) -- To be or not to be is not the question according to Alan Watts' "Way of Zen," because to "be" and to "not be" are opposites, which rely on the other state of being in order to exist.

In other words, for there to be a state of "being," there must also be a state of "non-being" and that simply is not the case. According to this book of theory, it is the between, the unnamed between, that actually is.

As one of the major books that brought eastern philosophy, namely Buddhism, to the west, "The Way of Zen" is one of the first to try to place names upon things that must remain unnamed. Because the Buddhist philosophy is traditionally an orally passed down ideal, before such books as this, it was nearly impossible for any Westerner to comprehend this philosophy. Now, thanks to Watts, it becomes a little more tangible.

I personally found "The Way of Zen" to be a masterpiece of blending not only culture, but also ideas. Watts uses analogies familiar to the western ear to describe concepts typically foreign to us. For example, the epithet that "The eternal Tao, which can be spoken is not the eternal Tao" is related to the familiar quote by Louis Armstrong: "If you have to ask, you'll never know." This is part of the brilliance of this work in general.

For me, to be told that in an ordinary setting would result with me throwing up my hands and saying-although perhaps not actually believing-"I never wanted to know anyway" rather than understanding that it is a more visceral experience than can be related by words. Watts somehow is able to relate this quality to someone like me, who relies on words, and therefore symbols, to explain why these symbols are not needed, and, in fact, not real.

What I have explained is only the tip of the iceberg. "The Way of Zen" is not an easy read, but well worth the effort. Not only will you learn about the concepts behind Zen, but also how it relates to typical western philosophy and perhaps your own.

Difficulty reaches a nine here. The concepts are extremely challenging, but the language carefully articulates the ideas. It's a trade-off.

Life-changing potentiality meets an eight. It definitely spins existentialism into a new web, as well as any ideas of opposites.
We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: