Note: This article is mainly a review of the author Lung Yingtai’s articles. But through this review, I put together how art and zen practice are related, how each individual should pursue his/her art, and how society should protect and support individuals in their pursuits.
I have liked Lung Yingtai’s articles for several years. She is one of my most favorite writers. I remember the first of her articles I read is “oh, Shanghai men”(a, shanghai nan ren). Up to recently, I like her article ”bai(3) nian(2) si(1) suo(3)”( http://www.shuku.net:8080/novels/lyt/lytdyjbnss.html) the best. She recently wrote a serial of articles regarding Taiwan’s election and democracy (http://forums.chinatimes.com.tw/report/lonin/l_main.htm). I regard these articles as the best of her articles. I like them very much. These articles are much deeper and closer to the core values. It seems that three years’ holding position as the cultural administrator of the Taipei city has promoted her to see things much deeper and realize the underlying principles.
This world is now a very troubled world. Taiwan’s democracy is greatly questioned. America is misled by the Bush administration. The Columbia local Chinese community recently had a very heated debate. All these raised questions in my mind. Why the liars always get their way? Why nice people always get cheated and misled? Why they cannot learn from history and people in other countries, but have to learn from their own lessons? Why they are so insensitive to things happening around?
That night, I just heard Bush’s primary speech on Iraq. I got very furious. On the TV, Senator Biden got the same furious. This stupid American president. The last chance to get the Iraq thing right is wasted again. He violated freedom in the name of freedom. He has had a chance to compensate for it by establishing the real democracy in Iraq, but he wasted. Now Iraq is in so much trouble, the world is in so much trouble and he is considering withdrawing? And there is no specific guideline about how to balance the power in Iraq. His 5 steps are really not significant. He just doesn’t understand anything at all, including the word “freedom” he has claimed to protect. American people can elect a president as great as Clinton. They can also elect a president as this Bush. What is wrong?
Then I read Lung Yingtai’s article “bai(3) nian(2) si(1) suo(3)” again. She said that literature is to enable people to see things normally invisible. Suddenly, I understand why many people are so ignorant and insensitive. Good literature is a super ability to realize the underlying principles, thus various things can be connected. Also the sense of seeing the underlying principles constructs a sense of beauty. It brings you back to the pure experience, pure activity and no thinking.
The same as I experienced in engineering training, literature is to grasp the underlying principles. The same with philosophy and history. They are all trying to grasp the underlying principles thus connecting different things. Also as Lung said, it must be centered on people. All thinking or all knowledge has to go back to the human being. This would explain why there are so many seemly knowledgeable people backing Bush up. Everything, no matter democracy or freedom, has to be centered on people, asking how it is related with every individual. So how should they be related? They should protect every individual’s right in pursuing at least one domain of art (For me, it is CS and elearning and I use this art to achieve the best balance). So that’s why I said everyone must focus on one domain of art. And no matter what domain of art you are focusing on, you will have to relate to other domains of arts and only after you do that can you achieve the highest form of your art. So democracy or freedom, they are to protect each individual’s pursuit of art and the sharing of their arts, to build a comprehensive learning environment for individuals pursuing arts, an environment both horizontally (involves various countries, areas, races. Thus the internationalization and diversity count) and vertically (historically) (exactly what Lung has been trying to do as the cultural administrator in Taipei.) In the process of pursuing my art, I am experiencing all of these. Democracy itself is useless. It is only a way to protect those essential things. We surely still need to do a lot of work to develop those essential things.
So we see again Zen is here: separate and connect. We have to enter the human world to experience being a human being, thus in a sense we are separated from other individuals and the world. We have personal experiences and we rely on it. But Zen is again saying we have to be connected to the world again. We have to be connected with other people and be connected to the whole world. We have to let the self dissolve. The article Zen Practice (zenpractice.html) is the best article for this “separate and connect”.
Please allow me to spend first a few words on the “separate and connect”.
The art is to experience the fundamental truths Zen has told us. One fundamental truth is separate and connect. How to be independent? How to connect? More specifically, how to cooperate? How to grasp the underlying principles thus various things can connect?
If we can connect, we achieve certainty. Certainty again connects us with our direct feelings. Our direct feelings are actually all we need (as sitting meditation in Zen). We connect via openness.
Zen is the art of all arts. It is about separate (independence, individual) and connect. It is to dissolve all set patterns. It is to realize each basic component and compose them freely in any condition. (Bruce Lee JKD, http://www.brucelee.com/jeet.htm) Like Bruce Lee said in his JKD, a kick is a kick, you use it when needed. You practice to make a kick a good kick. You combine various components to express yourself. Similarly in a society, we need to dissolve the set patterns (government, big companies and so on), we need to recognize the basic components (independent individuals with free wills and different interests). An individual needs to freely express himself/herself. In a larger scale, we need the fluidity to let the components (individuals) to be combined freely according to various conditions thus a society can freely express itself. That is why I believe our world is becoming more human because IT empowers individuals and gives individuals various forms to cooperate. The new options for cooperation greatly exceeds what can be offered by the traditional forms of social organizations (government, company and so on.) (Bill Joy said he believes small company as small as 20 people is the best.) (Democracy, for us so far, is to allow the regime change without shedding blood).
Thus how to identify those basic small components, let those basic components be independent and how to let them cooperate in different ways are the key of all. And this is what I am working on in elearning. Continue reading