Blyth is the Bomb

R.H. Blyth. Scholar of Zen Buddhism, contemporary of D.T. Suzuki, author of the most comprehensive critical study and history of the Haiku and awesome, awesome thinker.

Found his books accidently - read Games Zen Masters Play since I got it for less than 2 dollars at a used bookstore in Burleson TX. Now I'm reading through his other works slowly but surely.

Blyth is a lot like me in his approach to Zen - fascinated by it, practiced it a bit but not fully committed to it because he still is interested in the intellectual dimension of it. That is, although he is authentically "converted" to Zen Buddhism, he's also authentically converted to scholarship and understanding. And it shows in his writing which is all exquisite.

I'm trying to incorporate his works into my future research plans, still along the lines of studying poetry and argument as a dysfunctional couple.

Here's the most tantalizing quote, from p. 56 of his Twenty-Five Zen Essays published by the Hakido press:

Words are not separate from things, any more than form is from matter or body from soul. This fact was well understood by the Shingon Sect. According to the Shingon Sect, more exactly, the Shingon Himitsu Shu, "The True Word Mystery Sect," there are Three Secrets, that of Activity, that of Word and that of Meaning. The sect is called Shingon, 'true word,' to emphasize the underrated importance of the second of the Secrets. "In the Beginning was the Word," but just as the doctrine of the Trinity reunites the never-divided Father, Son and Holy Ghost, so Activity, Word and Meaning are in reality only one.

The Shingon Sect totally fascinates me. Blyth here leaves the Shingon and moves along in his argument - it's tantalizingly underdeveloped.

Do we have here a group of monks that are Buddhist rhetoricians? Are they practicing a rhetorical criticism as their Buddhism? What are the stumbling blocks (as they see it) to understanding the unification of action/word?  Most enticingly, do we have here Buddhist speech-act theory as a reflexive religious practice? What a boon to rhetoric of religion if it turns out that Shingon practitioners not only engage in religious rhetoric, but find that the critique and understanding of it as rhetoric is part and parcel of religious devotion.

Do we have here the bare bones of a rhetoric of faith, practiced as the inverse - faith in rhetoric?

Thanks R.H. for writing this stuff - you are more alive on the page than I will ever be.