Absurdity And The Road to Shūnyam

‘Things are not as they seem; nor are they otherwise’, say’s the Sūtra. This is not a clever play of words or cryptic coding of a privileged secret. It is literally true.


The Zen Master Deshan Xuanjian is remembered, among other things, for his teaching methods.

He would stride the Zendo with a big stick:

If you utter a word I give you thirty blows’, he would bellow, ‘and if you utter not a word, just the same, thirty blows!

[The original Mumonkan had sixty blows, if I recall. I’ll settle for thirty.]


The Eastern Christian Church insightfully saw greater danger in reassuring sensibility than in the absurd and in the cryptic.

‘Scripture shorn of antinomy’, it voiced, ‘is Scripture suspect’.

Contrary to popular belief, the Western Church held no different. The difference is more in the speed of memory-loss.

And as for the newest of Religions, ‘Science’: ‘Your theory is crazy, but it’s not crazy enough to be true’ quipped Neils Bohr [Nobel, Physics, 1922] to Wolfgang Pauli; elsewhere, ‘Anyone who is not shocked by Quantum Theory has not understood it’


Absurdity: ‘From Surdus-Deaf, Insensible, Untrue, Ridiculously inconsistent with Reason, Logically Contradictory, Foolish, Irrational, Preposterous.’

Absurdity in all its layers encases Shūnyam. And each layer needs to be peeled away with pincers.

And the source? It’s always the same. Self-Reference, being asleep to the Self-Loop, getting lost in its entrails.

All pointers that orient in the direction of Shūnyam are unabashedly, in-your-face absurd. If Shūnyam beckons, you begin by cultivating a high-tolerance for all things foolish, an appreciation for sheer nonsense, an acquired facility with the flagrantly absurd.

‘Wake up and realize you were never asleep’ suggests the Sūtra. If you think you have newly woken up, by that very fact, you are still asleep’.