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Semantics and Zen


Reprinted from PSYCHOLOGIA, An International Journal of Psychology in the Orient, 1972, 15, 127-136. by Randy Berkman

The article attempts to show how the lifestyles and methods of General Semantics and Zen complement one another. The goals of both disciplines are considered and found to be essentially the same. There is a focusing on the ways in which Zen methods covertly encourage application of basic semantic principles such as: the symbol is not the reality for which it stands; reality is a process. Specifically considered are the Zen techniques of Zazen, Koan, and Mondo. These methods are viewed as ways to contact the non-verbal levels of experience, and as encouraging the insight that non-verbal reality cannot be comprehended with words.


What is the relationship between Zen Buddhism and General Semantics? Can these uniquely Western and Eastern views of the universe be integrated into a unified process of experiencing life? How does none arrive at an understanding of Semantics and Zen? These questions and other directly related areas will be discussed in this paper. It should be pointed out in advance that the thesis of this paper is that the Zen and Semantic ways of living are perhaps ideally complementary to one another.

My understanding of Zen Buddhism stems from the practice of its methods in my everyday living. I have practiced meditation in the tradition of Zen for almost five years. My interest in Semantics arose mutually with my interest in and practice of Zen techniques. I was not, however, applying semantic principles on a conscious level, the application being done unconsciously as I gained various insights with Zen methods. Application of Semantic principles on a conscious level began with a college course in General Semantics.

The following ideas will be presented as a series of essays focusing mainly on the similarities of technique of both Semantics and Zen.


Zen is a way of life that is most difficult for Westerners to understand. For when a person asks, “What is Zen?”, no positive definition can be given to accurately express it. The only way to really know and understand Zen is to apply its methods and experience it for yourself. In semantic terms, the Zen methods allows a person to experience previously ignored non-verbal levels of awareness. Zen, thus, should be be more easily comprehended by the general semanticist.


It is not surprising to find that the goals of both Semantics and Zen are very similar. Both are vitally concerned with development of full human potentialities. What is the basic aim of Zen?

Zen in its essence is the art of seeing into the nature of one's being, and it points the way from bondage to freedom... We can say that Zen liberates all the energies proper];, and naiurallv stored in each of us, which are in ordinary circumstances cramped and distorted so that they find no adequate channel for activity... It is the object of Zen therefore, to save us from going crazy or being crippled. This is what 1 mean by freedom, giving free play to all the creative and benevolent impulses inherently lying in hearts. Generally, we are blind to this fact, thai we are in possession of all the necessary faculties that will make us happy and loving towards one another (Suzuki, 1956, p. 3).

Essentially the same goal is expressed from a semantic viewpoint: "Mental health is synonymous with the proper functioning of the abstracting process at all levels." Weinberg, 1959, p. 181).

The ideally sane man is one who never confuses the levels of abstraction, who never reverses the natural order of abstraction, who uses all his potentialities. He is the self-actualizing individual whose nervous system acts as an integrated whole without internecine battles among the various levels." (Weinberg, 1959. p. 170).

In speaking of goals, it should be emphasized thai Zen is not a method of self-improvement. For if a person uses Zen discipline with the idea of "getting something" from it, the person is living with only partial awareness of the "eternal now," and the eternal now is what all Zen discipline is pointing at directly. Thus, viewed from an absolute non-verbal level (absolute: means beyond all opposites), there are no goals of Zen. This is because we are "already Buddhas"; we are already "one with the universe." From a relative (within the realm of opposites), there are long range goals in Zen, namely thai we realize our true nature, that is, our fundamental unity with the cosmos. This experience of our true nature is called saiori or awakening.

In recalling the relationship between the goals of semantics and Zen, we have found that both emphasize the unfolding of human potential as central to their ways of life. It should be remembered that seen from the absolute level, Zen is without goals, but seen from the relative level, Zen has essentially the same goals as Semantics: human sanity, peace of mind, knowledge of self and man's relationship to the universe.


The Zen techniques of "direct pointing" at non-verbal reality have been extremely fascinating to me. All of these techniques attempt to tease the rational, logical mind out of thought. Thus, to understand Zen, it is necessary to abandon all ideology, all presuppositions as to what reality is. In other words, we cannot understand the non-verbal levels by thinking about them; we must simply experience them. As Wendell Johnson (1946. pp. 127-128) points out:

We cannot with language go 'below' the first order verbal level. When we have said all we can in describing something, we have reached this level of abstraction, and if asked to go further, we can only point to, or demonstrate, or act out, or somehow exhibit tangibly what we 'mean'. We have reached the point where nothing more can be said. In this connection it is to be considered that definition can proceed in either of two directions, so to speak. It can move up or own the scale of abstraction: baseball can be denned in more general terms as a type of spheroid, or in more specific terms as a spherical object with a cork center wound with string and covered with horsehide. Now, suppose we are asked to define descriptively each of the terms used in these definitions. After all, there are only so many words in the language that would be suitable, and eventually we shall find that we have used them all. There then would be no more to say about the 'meaning' of baseball. We would have reached the first-order verbal level, and if pressed further we could do nothing but exhibit a baseball.

Thus, all Zen discipline is applying (although most Zen students are not aware of the application) the semantic principle that the symbol is not reality; the map is not the territory. In other words, all Zen discipline aims at the realization, on the student's part, that non-verbal reality cannot be comprehended in words.

The principle that words cannot grasp non-verbal reality is clearly expressed in the dialectic of Nagarjuna. This method embodies the fundamental idea or reason behind all Zen technique.

Nagarjuna's dialectic will be examined to illustrate this fundamental principle behind all Zen methods.

Watts points out that at first the Nagarjuna dialectic seems to be a purely philosophical and intellectual "tour de force"—the object of which is to refute any point of view that can be proposed. Stated in a logical way, the dialectic is the systematic refutation of any philosophical opinion that may be classified under what Indian logic calls the "four propositions" :

.) is, (b) is not, (c) both is and is not, (d) neither is nor is not, or (a) being, (b) non-being, (c) both being and non-being, (d) neither being nor non-being. Watts points out that because language is dualistic and relational, any affirmation or denial can have meaning only in relation to its own opposite. Every statement or definition sets up a boundary or limit; it classifies something and, thus, it can be demonstrated that what exists inside the boundary must coexist with what exists outside the boundary (Watts, 1961, p. 115). The dialectic is used as a method for pointing out the relativity of any meta-physical premise. The dialectician makes no proposition and raises no problem but waits for someone to come to him. The dialectic method assumes that almost everyone has some metaphysical premise ) on which he bases considerable psychological security. In other words, nearly everyone has beliefs about the world which he would attempt to cling to if they were attacked. By careful questioning the dialectician challenges the student to defend his belief, and the student inevitably fails. The student then attempts to cling to other beliefs to remain secure, but this is a losing battle (Watts, 1961, pp. 115-116). The student must learn to let go of all verbal conception of reality. The student may feel very insecure because he is discovered he cannot grasp non-verbal reality with words. This experience may be extremely frightening, but the dialectician is there to reassure the student that this experience is constructive.

The Nagarjuna dialectic clearly embodies the basic Zen method of "direct pointing" at non-verbal reality (tathata) or "suchness". The basic semantic principle that the symbol is not the reality is used in a very direct manner. Direct insight into this basic Semantic principle can be gained with the dialectic or with other Zen methods such as Zazen. Koan or Mondo. All of these Methods are valuable in aiding us to cultivate non-verbal, non-thought processes.


Zazen is a direct method for cultivation of non-thought, non-verbal experiences.

In Zazen, the person sits cross-legged, if possible, or simply in a comfortable position. Beginners usually start by concentrating on inhaling and exhaling their breath by counting each one from one to ten, and then repeating this process. The novice will find this process somewhat "awkward", and his mind will frequently wander from the counting. When he realizes that he has wandered from the counting, he then repeats silently to himself "thinking" and brings his mind back to watching over the breath. The value of this exercise is that it gradually brings the verbal mind to rest. Any thoughts that arise are allowed to come and go as they please, but all concentration is directed toward the breathing. Concentration can be focused on a sensory experience such as music or chanting.

I think it is important to emphasize the fact that Zazen is not an isolated aspect of living that is done only while sitting down. Zazen can be done during any activity. In my own experience, I have found this type of awareness to be very peaceful and unifying. In semantic terms, Zazen allows one to experience optimal tonicity, the feeling that enables us to use one's potentialities most effectively. The "pointed-centeredness" or relaxed alertness that results from the practice of Zazen can be the basic feeling of one's living. It is a somewhat different feeling with different activities, but the basic underlying feeling and attitude of "letting experience happen" is present in "Zazen awareness". To quote Watts:

"This awareness is attented by the most vivid sensation of 'nondifference' between one self and the external world, between the mind and it contents-the various sounds, sights, and other impressions of the surrounding environment (Watts, 1957, pp. 152-153).

Surprisingly enough, this mode of awareness is almost precisely what Freud called hovering attentiveness, which he contended is ideally suited for psychoanalyzing a person. To quote Freud: "The technique (listening) simply consists in making no effort to concentrate the attention on anything in particular, and in maintaining in regard to all that one hears the same measure of calm, quiet, auentiveness—of 'evenly hovering attention'...One has simply to listen and not to trouble to keep in mind anything in particular." This technique avoids strain of the analyst and also tends to create an unprejudiced interpretation because material is not "selected out" from the flow of talking.

It is extremely interesting to point out here that though Zen and Semantics are somewhat different approaches (Semantics being essentially a "rational" approach and Zen being essentially an intuitive or non-raiional approach) toward living, their methods are sometimes strikingly similar.

Wendell Johnson suggests a "Non-Verbal Abstracting" exercise:

Hold an object (ash tray, pencil or anything else that may be handy) in both hands and look at it steadily, examining ii. As soon as you begin to verbalize about it to yourself, put it down. Take it up and try again. See how long you can 'stay on the silent level' of abstracting. This should be practiced for a short time each day, for at least a week or two, using different objects. You can also do it while watching a person, viewing a painting, listening to music or watching a game of some sort. In such cases, of course, you cannot hold in your hands what you arc observing, and so you need to use a slightly different technique: before you begin to observe cross your arms, and when you begin to verbalize uncross them. This is an unusually effective exercise for demonstrating the degree to which your observations are influenced by your verbalizations about whatever you are observing (Johnson, 1946, pp. 128-129).

Quoting Chang Chen-Chi's Zen method, we find essentially the same exercise:

1. Look inwardly at your state of mind before any thought arises. 2. When any thought does arise cut it off and bring your mind back to the work (Ross. 1960, p. 211). Johnson goes on to suggest a "moment to movment" application of Semantic principles:

He suggests concentration on any Semantic principle and its application to what you are doing at the moment (Ross, 1960, p. 211). Chang Chen-Chi continues his suggestions with: "3. Try to look at the mind all of rhe time. 4. Try to remember this 'looking sensation' in daily activities" (Kapleau, 1965, p. 64).

I have presented a rather short but basic description of Zazen. It is my opinion that the general semanticist take time to experiment with Zazen (or a similar method) himself, since Zazen is an extremely good tool for enabling one's self to experience deeply non-verbal levels with which he possibly has not come in contact. This could easily lead to a more complete comprehension of semantics itself. For Zazen enables one to experience directly the "process nature of reality" that semantics so much emphasizes. Zazen, furthermore, enables one to feel at home in a process reality, for as Zazen experience deepens, one feels a constancy in the change and even an identity with it. One directly senses the unity of the universe and the constant flow of it. For example:

The earth, the trees, the sky,...

they are my creator
They are my creator, yet I, too, create them
Together we are different, though all children of Life's freedom
Together we are eternal reflections...


. Within the boundless mirror that is Love.


The Koan exercise is a uniquely Zen method used in "opening one's eyes" to the life of Zen. Tt is probably the most intriguing Zen method because of its completely baffling non-rationality. Koans are riddles or puzzles that cannot be solved by logic or reasoning, but only by awakening deeper levels of the mind can Koans be solved. To quote a Zen Master: "The aim of every koan is to liberate the mind from the snare of langnaoe which fits over experience like a strait jacket" Three of the best known koans are: What is the sound of one hand clapping? What is your original face before your parents were born? When the many are reduced to one, what is the one reduced to?

The Master Yasutani explains the rationale behind all koans:

Koans take as their subjects tangible, down-to-earth objects such as a dog, as tree, a face, a finger, to make us see, on the one hand that every object has absolute value and, on the other, to arrest the tendency of the intellect to anchor itself in abstract concepts. But the import of every koan is the same: the world is one interdependent Whole and that each separate one of us is that Whole...In the process they pry us loose from our tightly held dogmas and prejudices, and empty us of the false notion of self-and-other, to the end that we may one day perceive that the world of Perfection is in fact no different from that in which we eat and excrete, laugh and weep (Kaplean, 1965, p. 64).

Koans are usually combined with Zazen, as both methods have the same end in mind. Because of my own experience with koans, I feel that the semanticist could broaden his understanding of semantics by experimenting with various koans.s, For example, one summer, I tried to devote all of my attention to the koan: What is mu? I realized that there is no acceptable intellectual answer to koans; there is only an experienced answer. Thus, whenever I expressed an answer to the question of "what is mu?"—in words—I immediately told myself I was incorrect and that I should get back to concentrating on the koan. The change in my perception of the everyday world was extremely startling. I was experiencing without thinking, and the world was as if it had been transformed. The veil of words between myself and my experience had been lifted. The beauty and wonder of simple, everyday experiences was almost beyond belief. In semantic terms I was experiencing something very similar to Weinberg's (1959, p. 201) description:

The non-verbal level is timeless; it has only the immeasurable now. At this level there is no beginning, no end, only flow and change. Beginning and end are high order abstractions resulting from our thinking and talking about our feelings and sensings, and like all high-order abstractions they are static; they are symbols and do not apply to the object level of senses and feelings...When concentration is wholly upon sensing and feeling without any notion of measurement, without any high order thinking about what we are experiencing on the non-verbal level, there comes to us the feeling of timelessness which is profoundly moving and utterly mysterious.

These levels are those at which Zen methods are directly pointing. As a person attempts to solve a koan, intense doubt is aroused similar to the emotions involved in Nagarjuna's dialectic. A person's "common sense undergoes a radical change. Sometimes, anything seems completely absurd, sometimes, utterly mysterious. It could probably be said that the amount of genuine doubt aroused by a koan corresponds to the effect (in changing perception) it has on a person. Watts gives a vivid account of the subjective feeling of doubt that can be aroused be concentrating on a koan: By such means the student is at last brought to a point of feeling completely stupid- as if he were encased in a huge block of ice, unable to move or think. He just knows nothing; the whole world, including himself, is an enormous mass of pure doubt. Everything he hears, touches, or sees is as incomprehensible as 'nothing' or 'the sound of one hand clapping.' He walks or sits all day in a 'vivid daze, conscious of every thing going on around him, responding mechanically to circumstances, but totally baffled by everything.

After some time in this state there comes a moment w hen the block of ice suddenly collapses, when this vast lump of unintellisibliiv instantly comes alive. The problem of who or what it is becomes transparently absurd-a question which from the beginning meant nothing whatsoever. There is no one left to ask himself the question or answer it. Yet at the same time this transparent meaninglessness can laugh and talk, eat and drink, run up and down, look at the earth and sky, and all this without any sense of there being a problem, a sort of psychological knot in the midst of it. There is no knot because the 'mind seeking to know the mind' or the 'self seeking to control the self has been defeated out of existence and exposed for the abstraction which it always was (Watts, 1957, p. 162).

The koan is an extremely effective method for teasing the mind out of thought and dualistic awareness. It is thus a very worthwhile tool for anyone who desires deepening his non-verbalawareness.


"I have no peace of mind" said Hui-k'o. "Please "pacify my mind."

"Bring out your mind here before me." replied Boddhidharma and I will pacify it!"

"But when I seek my own mind" said Hui-k'o, "I cannot find it."

"There!" snapped Bodhidhanna. "I have pacified your mind." (Watts, 1957, p. 92)

This was purportedly to have been Hni-k'o's satori or enHghtment, and the beginning of the Zen method known as the mondo or "rapid fire" question and answers. Mondos usually take place between Zen students and Zen masters. The questions are relevant to some area the student has been studying which he does not fully understand. The master replies without recourse to theory or logic in order to evoke an intuitive response deep within the student's mind. Though mondos are usually between master and student, sometimes two masters confront one another. The mondo is another Zen method of direct pointing at non-verbal reality. Thus, to offer an explanation of a mondo would rob it of its direct intention. To really get the "feel" of a mondo it is necessary to participate in one.

I do think it is useful though, to quote a few more examples and possibly stimulate thought, or better yet—non-thought.

A monk asked a master:

"For what reason did the first Patriarch come from the West?" (This is a formal question, which asks for the central point of Zen.) The master answered:

"The cypress tree in the yard."

'•Aren't you trying "to demonstrate it by means of an external reality?" "I am not!" retorted the master.

"For waht reason did the First Patriarch come from the West?" "The cypress tree in the yard!" (Watts, 1957, p. 127). Another example:

When Ts' ui-wei was questioned about the meaning of Buddhism he answered: "Wait until there is no one around and I will tell you." Some time later the monk again approached him and said, "There is nobody here now. Please answer me." Ts'ui-wei led him into the garden and went over to a bamboo grove saying nothing. Still the student was puzzled; so Ts'ui-wei said, "Here is a tall bamboo; there is a short one!" Tung-shan was asked,

"What is the Buddha?"

He replied. "Three pounds of flax," (Watts, 1957, p. 128) To again quote Watts:

There is no doubt some parallel between these demonstrations and the viewpoint of Korzybskian semantics. There is the same stress on the importance of avoiding confusion between words and signs, on the one hand, and the infinitely variable "unspeakable" world, on the other. Class demonstrations of semantic principles often resemble types of mondo.. Professor Irving Lee, of North Western University, used to hold up a match box before his class, asking 'What's this?' The students would usually drop squarely into the trap and say, 'A matchbox!" At this, Professor Lee would say, 'No, no! It's this--' throwing the matchbox at the class, and adding, 'Matchbox is a noise. Is this a noise?'

However, it would seem that Korzybski still thought of the "unspeakable" world as a multiplicity of infinitely differentiated events. For Zen the the world of "suchness" is neither one nor many, neither uniform nor differentiated. A Zen Master might hold up his hand to someone insist- ing that there are real differences in the world-and say, "Without saying a word, point to the difference between my fingers" At once. it is clear that "sameness" and difference are abstractions. The same would have to be said of all categorizations of the concrete world-even "concrete itself" -for such terms as "physical", ''material", "objective", "real", and "existential" are extremely abstract symbols. Indeed, the more one tries to define them, the more meaningless they turn out to be. The world of "suchness" is void and empty because it teases the mind out of thought, dumfounding the chatter of definition so that there is nothing left to be said." (Watts, 1957, p. 131)

Watts is pointing out that mondos covertly contain the basic semantic principle that the symbol is not reality. Thus, Irving Lee's class demonstrations with the matchbox are very close to mondos.

Watts then seems to infer that Korzybski thinks of non-verbal reality as a "multiplicity of infinitely differentiated events." Watts is implying that Korzybski is making an unconscious identification of abstraction levels, which is a basic violation of semantic principles. For if Korzybski practiced what be preached, (symbol is not reality) he would have realized that "multiplicity of infinitely differentiated events" is a personally projected symbol of non-verbal reality. In other words, he would have realized that his personally projected abstraction is not really non-verbal reality. For as Korzybski himself pointed out, "Whatever we say a fact is, it is not" (Johnson, 1946, p. 172).

At this point, it seems pertinent to include an example of a student's interview with a Zen master. This method is somewhat "intellectual" bui it seems parallel to classroom explanation of semantics. Again, we find that the master is trying to provoke a direct intuition of non-verbal reality, though his explanations usually seem fairly logical.

Question: From all you have said. Mind is the Buddha; but it is not clear as to what sort of mind is meant by this 'Mind is the Buddha.' Anwser: How many minds have you got?

Q: But is the Buddha the ordinary mind or the Enlightened mind?
A: Where on earth do you keep your 'ordinary mind' and 'enlightened mind'?
Q: In the teaching of the Three Vehicles, it stated that there are both.
Why does your reverence deny?

A: In the teaching of the Three Vehicles it is clearly explained that the ordinary and enlightened minds are illusions. You don't understand. All this clinging to the idea of things existing is to mistake vacuity for the truth. How can such conceptions not be illusory? Being illusory they hide Mind from you. If you would rid yourself of the concepts of ordinary and Enlightened, you would find that there is no other Buddha than the Buddha in your own mind. When Boddhidharma came from the West, he just pointed out that the substance of which all men are composed is the Buddha. You people go on misunderstanding: you hold on to concepts such as 'ordinary' and 'Enlightened' directing your thoughts outward where they gallop about like horses! All this amounts to beclouding your own minds! So I tell you. Mind is the Buddha. As soon as thought or sensation arises, you fall into dualism. Beginningless time and present time are the same. There is no this and no that. To understand this is called complete and unexcelled Enlightenment. Q: Upon what Doctrine does your reverence base these words?

A: Why seek a doctrine? As soon as you have a doctrine you fall into dualistic thought.
Q: Just now, you said that beginningless time and present time are the same. What do you mean by that?

A: It is just because of your seeking that you make a difference between them. If you were to stop seeking, how could there be any difference between them?

Q: If they are not different why did you employ separate terms for them?
A: If you hadn't mentioned ordinary and Enlightened, who would have bothered to say such things? Just as those categories have no real existence, so Mind is not really 'mind.' And, as both Mind and those categories are illusions wherever can you hope to find anything? (Ross, 1960, pp. 70-71)

In this interview, we can see how the Zen master is using semantic principles in teaching the student, although he probably is not aware he is using "semantic principles" as such. We see that the student identifies abstraction levels and that the Zen master points out this confusion to him. The basic point of the interview is that categories are "illusory" or useless in trying to "know" reality; or perhaps "whatever you say a fact (reality) is, it isn't."

We have seen that all of the Zen methods are aimed at awakening intuitive non-verbal levels within the person's mind. In my own experience. I have found the previously mentioned methods very effective in cultivating "non-verbal consciousness". These methods also help one to apply semantic principles. I therefore, recommend that the general semanticist look into the life of Zen.


I think it is somewhat appropriate, here for me to apologize for my "treatment" of Zen. I have spoken of it mainly from a methodological point of view. It should be made very clear that Zen is not only a method. Zen Buddhism is a religious way of life, although not religious in the ordinary sense of the word. For to Zen, any living activity is religious in that one's entire being is devoted to this activity.

In order to understand Zen in a much broader perspective, we should not separate it from its historical origins in China and Japan and its influences on Japanese culture. Zen has directly influenced architecture, drama, the tea ceremony, humor, judo, painting, archery, gardening, fencing, psychotherapy, poetry, including haiku, and nearly every area of human endeavor which requires use of intuitive,unconscious faculties. Volumes could be devoted to each one of these topics.

I have written some Haiku and other related poetry and these creative experiences are extremely gratifying. They almost always follow moments of acute awareness of the immediate environment. Many times the poems seem to write themselves. Here are a few:

as wheat sways slowly
a lone lark embraces
wind of autumn calm

a silver star falls
swiftly through vast open space
and kisses the night
silver misty haze
lightening present everywhere
leaf floats gently on

flow of gentle wind
rustles leaves through dark forest
of serene stillness


I hope that the questions raised at the beginning of this paper have been reasonably well-answered in the preceding pages.

It is true thai semantics and Zen are uniquely Western and Eastern ways of life. Surprisingly, the two, rather than being mutually exclusive, seem mutually complementary. It seems that Zen being essentially intuitive, and semantics being essentially rational, need one another in order to develop human potential on all levels of abstraction. Thus, semantics and Zen have much 10 learn from each other. Although semantics certainly dc»e? not exclude two-verbal levels, it is clear that Zen has more experience and knowledge of these levels. It is true that Zen does not exclude verbal levels although semantics is more thorough in its comprehension of these levels.

Both semantics and Zen agree that man must first be "at home" on the non-verbal, sensory, levels in order to function properly on the verbal levels of abstraction. As Weinberg points out: "The verbal level, with its plotting, planning, theorizing, predicting, operates in the final analysis for the sake of the non-verbal and not vice versa. This is one reason the general semanticist assigns more value to this level than to the verbal level." (Weinberg, 1959, pp. 58-59)

We have seen thai ihe goals of semantics and Zen are essentially the same: human sanity, peace of mind and full development of human potential. It was pointed out that the semantic and Zen methods for obtaining these goals are somewhat different, although at times they are strikingly similar. Wendcll Johnson's non-verbal abstra^'.i'-- c'^rcise and Chang Chen-Chi's directions for mediation clearly exemplify the convergence the two methods.

For persons who have attempted to apply semantic principles in daily living and who have been somewhat unsuccessful, I would recommend they consider what Zen may have to offer, for Zen methods enable us to concretely experience the basis of semantics: that the symbol is not the reality; that reality changes and also remains the same.

As I have integrated semantics and Zen into my own life, I have become increasingly aware of how they complement one another. There is a mutual feedback of clarity and peace on both verbal and non-verbal levels. Zen has been very valuable for the non-verbal; semantics for the verbal levels.

In concluding, I wish to reiterate that papers or books on Zen are something of a hoax if they offer the reader the impression that Zen is a philosophy or ideology that can be classified within the traditional limits of Western philosophical speculation. For the answer to what is Zen, the reader must apply its methods to himself. In other words, Zen is not "a what" cannot be accurately classified.

For Zen lives and moves in a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere.


Freud, Sigmund, Psychoanalysis, Therapy and Technique.

Johnson, Wendell, People in Quandries. Harper and Row, New York. 1946.

Kapleau, Philip. Three Pillars of Zen, Beacon Press, Boston. 1965.

Ross, Nancy Wilson, ed., The World of Zen, Chang Chen Chi, Vintage Books, New York, 1960.

Suzuki, Daisetz L., Zen Buddhism, Doubleday Anchor Book, New York, 1956.

Watts, Alan, The Way of Zen. Pantheon Books. 1958.

Watts, Alan W., The Spirit of Zen, Grove Press, Inc., New York, 1958.

Watts, Alan W., Psychotherapy East and West, Pantheon Books, New York, 1961.

Weinberg, Harry L. Levels of Knowing and Existence, Harper and Row, New York, 1959.