Walking in Wild Emptiness: A Zen Phenomenology
Drawing on Gary Snyder’s notion of the wild, which he uses to describe the Chinese term dao, or the way of Great Nature, this essay takes up through a series of comparisons with such diverse thinkers as Eihei Dōgen, Martin Heidegger, and Alphonso Lingis, the fundamental question of what it means to be human. More specifically, it is an inquiry into the activity of being human, that is, what does it mean to move and dwell on the Earth. Focusing on the concept of emptiness, in both its Buddhist and Western connotations, the activity of traveling and dwelling—here described as walking—is considered in relation to what it means to be among other non-human entities and elements such as animals, mountains, water, and sky. The resulting reorientation from such interaction, which is becoming more alien in our increasingly technological world, is necessary if we are to retain, or recover, a sense of what it means to be fully human.