Misunderstanding is sometimes more interesting



Kazuaki Tanahashi is in town, and I had the opportunity to go to an excellent presentation yesterday on Dogen, and an ink brush presentation today at the art museum.

One of the stories he told today was about John Cage who apparently was influenced by a D. T. Suzuki comment about Zen being complete freedom. Cage had taken it in a more western sense, as a freedom from any rules and traditions, and went on to create some amazing and innovative music.

It was a misunderstanding on his part, of course, as the Zen form of freedom is quite different (although can include the form it took for Cage). Tanahashi commented that misunderstandings are sometimes more interesting.

I can see how that is true in a few different ways.

It is true in that it can lead to some quite different and refreshing perspectives that can lead to new insights for everyone.

It is true in that it gives the person an opportunity to project, notice and get familiar with and explore something alive for them. (John Cage obviously had that form of freedom brewing in him, and took the D.T. Suzuki quote as an opportunity to support it and bring it out in his life.)

It is true in that it is an invitation to notice it as a projection, especially when we realize it is a misunderstanding.

And it is true in that it still leaves the conventional/intended understanding to be discovered. This is interesting in itself, and the process of discovering it can be interesting as well.

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