that is why figures such as Daisetz Suzuki and Kitaro Nishida always trod tentatively in seeking to give expression to this inner aspect and were often deeply ashamed or embarassed by their own words. they viewed them as only "wordly things" and after having bourne this outer aspect through, quickly moved away from and back into the fundamental peaceful awareness.
recently i've been leisurely making my way through Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian which Kyoshin kindly lent me. and i was struck, upon hearing these words of Sensei's, how central a struggle this idea of giving expression to the inexpressible has been to Knitter as a commited (no doubt some would argue otherwise!) Christian. struck, but not surprised as after all, "in the beginning was the word" and later, so we are told, the word was made flesh. what really interests me in reading Knitter is his concern not per se with a desire to express, but with an excess of expression -
"[...]the crux of my difficulties has been not in a lack of meaning but an excess of meaning; not in the possibility of meaning but in the determination of meaning. The image that comes to mind is of a beautiful tropical bird - in a cage. Able to soar, it's not allowed to.
We kill religious language when we don't allow it to soar. "this tension between the desire to (perhaps even the necessity to) express and the dangers thereof i think always threatens to snap when we fail to realise that insofar as we attempt to express the inexpressible it is bound toward symbolic language. this language taken at a purely literal level, is equatable to (pardon the well-worn phrase) mistaking the finger for the moon. the danger that we dwell forever in the dogmatic orthodoxical wandering grounds instead of diving deeper into the experiental pools has then a greater threat of narrowing this outer aspect to an exclusive "my way only" mode of expression -
"Symbolic language is both precious and dangerous. Therefore it must be used carefully. Symbols are words we utilise to open ourselves to something that is essentially beyond words. Symbols are images that connect us with a reality that can never be contained in any one image. This means, as is often said but often forgotten, that while symbols should always be taken seriously, we need to be wary of taking them them literally. If we take them literally, we run the risk of so inflating them that we turn them into idols"to end this posting on a "to be continued", i was also reminded listening to Sensei talk, of that popular quote from the Dao De Jing - "those who know, speak not; those who speak know not". and i realised for the first time why such an absolute phrase, which so delighted me when i was younger, now seems to fall short of something crucial. at some stage i'll write about what i feel this something is.
namu amida butsu