Flowers of Sentience, Roots of Consciousness: The Buddhahood of Plants in the Nō Theater

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Flowers of Sentience, Roots of Consciousness: The Buddhahood of Plants in the Nō Theater
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Citation: Poulton, M. Cody. "Flowers of Sentience, Roots of Consciousness: The Buddhahood of Plants in the Nō Theater." Dharma World 45 (2018): 20–23. https://rk-world.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/DW18_7-12.pdf.

Abstract

No abstract given. Here are the first relevant paragraphs:

For over thirty years I have been encountering a motif or set of motifs in Japanese culture that is, outside of folklore and the children's story, virtually unheard of in European literature. Japanese literature and theater are rife with stories in which the protagonists are not human but are, rather, plants, trees, animals, or supernatural beings. For many Westerners, such tales seem indicative of some kind of arrested development in the Japanese psyche, as if their culture had failed to become modern or, worse, "grow up."
      When I ask my Japanese colleagues about this, most see no problem at all: both Shinto and Buddhism acknowledge that sentience can exist across a broad spectrum of life, from the simplest organic structures to supernatural entities that, though invisible, may direct our lives in ways we still don’t understand. Arguably, the Japanese themselves feel a kinship with these other entities to a degree that many people in Europe or North America do not, though such a sensibility is common among indigenous peoples around the world. As unique as they are, human beings do not occupy any God-given, privileged place in this scheme. Th e word animism is brought out to explain much of this, though the term itself is vaguely used.
      I began to realize that a radically different metaphysical construct of the world gives rise to a distinctive poetics and dramaturgy, and that typical EuroAmerican critical tools fail to adequately interpret even Japanese discursive texts, to say nothing of many of their greatest works of poetry, fiction, and drama. (Poulton, "Flowers of Sentience," 20) (Read the entire article here)

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