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23 Chunks of Being:

Gregory Grieve’s Experiments in Transmitting Pure actuality

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8. Transmission (2022)

Photocollage on canvas 

畫餅不能充飢と道取するは、たとへば、諸惡莫作、衆善奉行と道取するがごとし、是什麼物恁麼來と道 取するがごとし、吾常於是切といふがごとし。しばらくかくのごとく參學すべし


—Treasury of the True Dharma Eye

(Number 24 畫餅[Painted Cakes])

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The original image caught Grieve’s eye when he was looking through the library of congress, and Grieve manipulated the image so as to make clear the transmission of insight. By insight, he indicates vidya (विद्या), which is not mere intellectual knowledge but valid knowledge, which cannot be contradicted, and true knowledge, which is the intuitively gained knowledge of the self. In Buddhism, vidyā means an intrinsic non-dualistic awareness. In Buddhism, non-duality proposes that all phenomena inter-exist; nothing is separate. All phenomena are perpetually conditioning all other phenomena. People and things are the way they are because everything else is the way it is. Buddhism teaches that these interdependent phenomena also are empty of self-essence or inherent characteristics. All distinctions we make between this and that are arbitrary. This doesn't mean that nothing exists, but that nothing exists the way we think it does. In this piece, Grieve explores the notion of Zen Buddhism as the “special transmission outside scriptures” that does “not stand upon words.” Ironically, the Zen tradition has a rich doctrinal and textual background and has been influenced by many sutras. In other words, even if Zen is defined by a special transition outside of language, it still relies on material systems of communications for its transmission. As the Zen Master Dogen writes, in the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye, “An ancient Buddha said, ‘A painting of a rice cake does not satisfy hunger’ . . . there is no remedy for satisfying hunger other than a painted rice cake.”

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