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TitleZen and the Psychology of Transformation: The Supreme Doctrine
File Size4.7 MB
Total Pages240
Table of Contents
Author's Preface
Ch. 1 - On the General Sense of Zen Thought
Ch. 2 - 'Good' and 'Evil'
Ch. 3 - The Idolatry of 'Salvation'
Ch. 4 - The Existentialism of Zen
Ch. 5 - The Mechanism of Anxiety
Ch. 6 - The Five Modes of Thought of the Natural Man - Psychological Conditions of Satori
Ch. 7 - Liberty as 'Total Determinism'
Ch. 8 - The Egotisical States
Ch. 9 - The Zen Unconscious
Ch. 10 - Metaphysical Distress
Ch. 11 - Seeing Into One's Own Nature - The Spectator of the Spectacle
Ch. 12 - How to Conceive the Inner Task According to Zen
Ch. 13 - Obedience to the Nature of Things
Ch. 14 - Emotion and the Emotive State
Ch. 15 - Sensation and Sentiment
Ch. 16 - On Affectivity
Ch. 17 - The Horseman and the Horse
Ch. 18 - The Primordial Error or 'Original Sin'
Ch. 19 - The Immediate Presence of Satori
Ch. 20 - Passivity of the Mind and Disintegration of Our Energy
Ch. 21 - On the Idea of 'Discipline'
Ch. 22 - The Compensations
Ch. 23 - The Inner Alchemy
Ch. 24 - On Humility
Document Text Contents
Page 120



What we have just been saying should not be understood as a
masochistic appetite for torment. The man who works according to Zen has
no love of suffering; but he likes suffering to come to him, which is not at all
the same thing, because, in helping him to 'let go', these moments will make
easier for him that inner immobility, that discretion and silence, thanks to
which the Principle works actively in him for Realisation.

One perceives how much the 'progressive' doctrines which invite man
to climb up an ascending hierarchy of states of consciousness, and which
more or less explicitly conceive the perfect man as a Superman, turn their
back on truth and limit themselves to modifying the form of our hopes. Zen
invites us on the contrary to a task which, up to satori exclusively, can only
appear to us as a descent. In a sense everything becomes worse little by little
up to the moment when the bottom is reached, when nothing can any longer
become worse, and in which everything is found because all is lost.

We can imagine nothing of the transformation of satori; therefore we
risk a new idolatry if we try to imagine anything of it whatsoever. At the
point at which we are today we are not able to see the true evolution except
as a progressive annihilation of all that we call 'success'; we are not able to
see the man who has attained realisation otherwise than as a man who has
become absolutely ordinary. Only he who has obtained satori can say: 'A
wandering cur who begs food and pity, pitilessly chased away by the street
urchins, is transformed into a lion with a golden mane, whose roar strikes
terror in the hearts of all feeble spirits.'

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Chapter Fourteen


LASSICAL psychology, in studying emotivity, misunderstands an
extremely important distinction from the point of view of the inner
evolution of man. It certainly describes this 'movement of the soul'

which wells-up as a result of an impulse from the outside world, in response
to an image consciously perceived, a movement of anger, of love, of remorse,
etc.... But the play of emotion, in us, is not confined to that. I often feel the
existence in me of a durable emotive 'state' concerning which I see clearly
that it is not released in me by images that I have in my head at that moment;
I am more or less gloomy, for example, while thinking of a thousand
harmless matters. If then I demand what images have brought me this state,
sometimes I do not find any, but often also I find the worry which lies
underneath my surface associations and which releases my sombre state of
mind. When I was not thinking about it my worry was motionless in my mind
(fixed idea) and released a durable emotive 'state' that seemed motionless.
Now that I think of my worry, when I evoke an imaginative film about it,
emotive movements are produced in me, like those of which we spoke at the
beginning; but I feel that there persists beneath these movements the
motionless emotive state, and I feel that this state was certainly in relation
with the worry that I have just brought up to my surface mind.

Inner experience shows me then that, under dynamic emotions, there
exists a static emotion. But how is one to understand this last? Its name even
seems paradoxical; emotion implies movement; can one speak of static
movement? In order to resolve this contradiction and show how the emotive
state can be at once a movement and an immobility, it will suffice to compare
those 'movements of the soul' which are emotions with the movements of the
body which are our muscular contractions. If a muscle can contract
dynamically in a contraction it can also contract statically in a spasm, or
cramp. Emotions connected with conscious images are psychic contractions,
the emotional state connected with subconscious images is a psychic spasm.


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in accordance with my structure, and in consequence useless for the
accomplishment of my being. They will be spokes in the wheels of my
machine. If, on the contrary, I wish to build up by degrees an authentic
understanding, through intellectual nourishment which I can decompose and
recompose in my own way, I shall seek everywhere without prejudice, with a
complete absence of consideration for the person to whom I am listening or
whose words I am reading. I am ready perhaps to find nothing in a certain
famous teaching and to receive veritable revelations from an obscure source.
The individual man whose thought I tackle matters little; I am only interested
in that which, in this thought, might awaken my own truth which is still
asleep. The Gospels interest me because I find there with evidence a
profound doctrine, but discussions concerning the historicity of the personage
of Jesus leave me indifferent.

If I have written Zen and the Psychology of Transformation as I have,
without references, without precise documentation, without tracing anywhere
the limit between the thoughts which took form in the brains of the Zen
masters and those which took form in my own brain, that is because I am
myself incapable of making these distinctions. After having read part of Zen
literature and received from it, with an impression of evidence, a vivid
revelation, I allowed my mind to work on its own. When we let it function
without preconceived ideas the mind only asks to be allowed to construct; it
establishes, by intuitive bursts, ever richer relations between the ideas already
understood, and assembles them like the pieces of a puzzle. This work of co-
ordination, of integration, results in a whole which is more and more
harmonic and in which it becomes strictly impossible for us to determine
what has been brought to us and what is created in us. And besides, once
again, this discrimination is of no interest. The adhesion given by the reader
to such and such a thought expressed in a book should not depend upon the
fact that this thought has been conceived by such and such a man or by such
and such another, but upon that inner resonance that we must learn to
recognise and to use as our only guide.

Preoccupations concerning the individual who has conceived such a
doctrinal exposition are in relation with our illusory need to find the Absolute
in an aspect of the multiple. We wish to find the Absolute incarnated in a
form. When we read a text expressing an ensemble of ideas we are tempted to
adhere to it as a whole or to reject it altogether; that should be easier and
should save us the personal trouble of reflection. From that moment we are

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led necessarily to envisage the author of the text as an entity whose individual
value intrigues us: does he deserve our respect or our disdain? This way of
reading, sound if a documentary text is in question, is no longer suitable
when we wish to form our thought and discover our truth (that is, our own
intellectual view of Reality). When I seek for my truth I know that I shall not
find it outside myself; what is outside me—which I am going to use in order
to find the truth in myself—can appear as a coherent whole; but I must not let
myself be impressed by this appearance, otherwise I shall never succeed in
effecting the analytical process which thereafter conditions my personal
synthesis, my intellectual assimilation.

If I regard my book as a whole, I believe that the ancient Zen masters
would have given me their imprimatur. But that matters little; above all they
would have approved the detachment whereby I struggle to maintain my
thought in the face of all other personal thought. One remembers that Zen
master who, seeing one of his pupils poring over a Sutra, said to him: 'Do not
let yourself be upset by the Sutra, upset the Sutra yourself instead.' For only
thus can there be established between the pupil and the Sutra a real

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