I had a sudden thought that I need to reevaluate my focus. For more than a week I have been reading on Zen/Zazen because I thought those writings would help me develop a structure of ritual so that I can begin to develop program and site considerations. I will write about those readings in the next post, but I will henceforth question the relevance of this kind of meditation to my thesis. My understanding was that, depending on the interpretation (i.e., one is who is centered versus one who is trying), zen is found in everyday life (such as cooking pots) and going to a remote place and 'meditating' is not true Zazen. This will not work for the site. Furthermore, one does not pursue Zazen to become enlightened nor is it done strictly for pleasure. Again, if I want the operators to transcend their existence... this is not going to work either. Finally (but not finally), clearing one's mind as necessary to achieve Zazen means achieving a void mind without thinking of it, or thinking to hope that you are not thinking. I understand the concept of becoming 'one' with what you are sensing (but not thinking about), and that a clear mind, in theory, readily accepts new things, but I can't agree that having no thoughts whatsoever will lead to becoming enlightened. Because, how would you know that you have become enlightened about something without thinking, realizing that you have?
My sudden thought was not entirely on my misgivings of Zazen's relationship to my thesis, though Zazen has already influenced and bolstered it (via Satori and Koan). Rather, I reminded myself that the stratified overgrowth component of the thesis intends to set the conditions for these trials of passage. Overgrowth provides the structure for the ritual, I just need to figure out---
Well. What do I need to figure out? Consider a misty room where you can barely see the walls, you cannot see the ceiling or the floor but can see a lighter glow ahead of you. Would this environment suffice for a trial of passage? Do I need more 'furniture' in the room; such as a special garment to be worn, or a practice of movement (posture, breathing, humming, dancing) or devices, obstructions that are completely mysterious? There are apparently 1,700 Koans for Zazen, and they are designed to baffle the intellect and these puzzles have no intellectual answer as they are absurd. Modern science has confirmed that thinking of the absurd, or, not thinking about it, helps the brain make new connections and understandings to various things. From that perspective--the mysterious, the uncanny, the absurd-- all have the capability to trigger a Satori moment (sudden enlightenment). But what I'm not clear on is if I have to design for this. Can this happen naturally in such a landscape of ruin (but wait, that means it can happen anywhere) or maybe it does not because, for example, an absurd overgrowth (the mist) triggers the satori in this misty room?