Leaping Clear of the Many and the One

IHUM Faber Lecture with Ruth Ozeki
Apr 27, 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm



Event Description

The apparent duality of “the universal” and “the particular” arises from what a Buddhist might call “primal confusion”: the sensory-cognitive delusion that phenomena exist as distinct, individual entities whose existence is separate from everything and everyone else. Like many confusions and delusions, this one often encodes real power and creates real-world conflict. And yet, there are moments—listening to music, reading a novel, looking at a painting, sitting zazen—when we glimpse the illusory nature of this separation, and the trappings of self drop away. In his famous fascicle, “Genjo Koan,” the 13th-century Zen master Dogen Zenji points at this truth of anattā (no-self, non-self), when he wrote, “The Way is in essence leaping clear of the many and the one.” Art allows us to make this leap, too, and indeed relies upon our leaping for its existence. Drawing on her most recent novel, The Book of Form and Emptiness, Ozeki will explore ideas, states of mind, and ways of being that can cut through these illusory distinctions and put us back together.

Ruth Ozeki is a writer, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest. Her most recent novel, The Book of Form and Emptiness, won the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her previous novel, A Tale for the Time Being won the LA Times Book Prize and was a finalist for the 2013 Booker Prize and the National Book Critics' Circle Award. Her novels have been translated and published in over thirty-five countries. Her nonfiction work includes a memoir, Timecode of a Face, and the documentary film, Halving the Bones. A longtime Buddhist practitioner, Ruth is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foun­dation.  She is the Grace Jarcho Ross 1933 Professor of Humanities at Smith College.

Sponsored by the Eberhard L. Faber 1915 Memorial Fund in the Humanities Council.