Zen and the Art of William Shakespeare Essay

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Zen and the Art of Shakespeare Like all Buddhism, Zen is a means by which one can achieve Buddha-consciousness, or in effect "total-consciousness." "Total-consciousness" means being aware of the true self and its role in regard to the infinite cosmos of all existence. This awareness allows one insight into or perhaps understanding of the Tao, the essential singularity to which all things belong. Understanding the Tao, for Taoists and Zen Buddhists alike, is the equivalent of Nirvana, loosely described as the utmost fulfillment of one’s existence. With all of it’s lofty, mystical terms and ideas, Zen Buddhism can seem very hard to talk about much less understand and follow. The beauty of Zen, though, is its practicality,…show more content…
In reality, paradise exists under man’s nose, and in it man plays the role of God and Satan. Zen suggests that we have no good reason to escape this reality, and furthermore it is absurd to think that we really can. Ultimately, living in Zen is to live extemporaneously. When one truly lives in Zen there is no equivocation or deliberation. There is only action. Zen is the ever-present guiding force in the life of an individual who adheres only to living. Zen is far away from the individual who abides whether in thought or deed, in his own disillusions. In The Tempest, Prospero’s final scene is the most Zen-like expression in all of Shakespeare. By virtue of his spells and charms, Prospero has his enemies right where he wants them. "Though with their high wrongs I am struck to th’ quick," he says. "Yet with my nobler reason ‘gainst my fury do I take part. The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance. They being penitent, the sole drift of my purpose doth extend not a frown further." (Tempest, V.i.20-30) Prospero proceeds to carry out his act of reconciliation by forgiving his enemies and freeing his slaves. These acts, though admirable from a moral standpoint are not necessarily expressions of Zen. Prospero’s Zen is expressed in: "But this rough magic I do here abjure . . . . . I’ll break my staff, bury it certain fathoms in the earth, and deeper than did ever plummet sound I’ll drown my book." (Tempest.V.i.51-57) He has reached some state of

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