|To thine own self be... ouch! Via.|
"If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha."
Linji Yixuan, Ch'an Master (? – 866)
Zen practices help people achieve serenity, better focus and greater understanding of the self. But as with everything in life, light must co-exist with darkness.
Enter Japan Society’s Zen & Its Opposite [watch the trailer], five classic films that show the relationship between Zen and violence, often overlooked when discussing Zen philosophy. Historically we can look to samurai meditating in order to center themselves before violent combat. Metaphysically, we can look at the constant battle between our spiritual selves and earthly desires.
A good example of the latter is the 1964 supernatural Japanese fantasy/horror film Kwaidan, which launches Zen & Its Opposite tonight. Each film illustrates one or several of the "Six Planes of Existence" in Buddhism's realm of birth and death. Kwaidan is four ghost stories elegantly strewn together, but at its core represents "The Realm of Humans", where beings are both good and evil--enlightenment within their grasp, yet blinded and consumed by their desires.Each of the short stories that comprise Kwaidan creates worlds where one must be on constant alert – something Zen Buddhism strives to improve upon – and nothing is as it seems.
Though the film was made by Japanese people, who might readily understand these Eastern concepts, the book on which the film was based was actually written by noted 19th century Japanologist Lafcadio Hearn, who was British-born and naturalized as a Japanese citizen in 1895, taking the name Yakumo Koizumi. So great was Hearn’s affinity for Japanese culture that his stories read like a born and bred native Japanese who has never stepped foot in the West.
After Kwaidan Zen & Its Opposite continues through February with screenings of Onibaba, Fires on the Plain, Hell and Sword of Doom. Tickets are $12 or $9 Japan Society members, students and seniors.
For those who can’t get enough ghost stories before Halloween, Japan Society invites you to check out OBAKE! on October 29 for an evening of fun with ghosts, costumes and one of the most insane Japanese horror films of all time. More on that later!