Not-Two

In Zen Buddhism, the phrase “not-two” is often used as a suggestive device to highlight the illusionary nature of  “separateness”. What is interesting about this particular phrase is that it affirms, in the negative, the so-called “unity of life.” So rather than say the “oneness” of life, the phrase “not-two” is used instead perhaps to loosen the listener’s attachment to any conceptions that remain an obstacle to the experience of so-called “unity”.

In the early stages of creating Zhadu, I began to contemplate the paradigms surrounding the scenario of 2-player strategy games and the phrase “not-two”. The dynamic between two people in this context is sometimes expressed in terms of “other”, “opponent”, “enemy”, etc. The appropriateness of these metaphors, or lack there of, was not what I called into question. It was my unreflective attachment to them. One of the conceptual foundations from which these metaphors seemed to rest upon intrigued me the most – “separateness”.

I began to explore various lines of questioning: What is the nature of being a “player” in the context of Zhadu? What if the “other” was not separate from oneself? What if the resistance expressed through the play was considered to originate not from something outside and apart from oneself, but from a different aspect of oneself? What if there is no “enemy”? What if the true purpose of the play was not to conquer or subdue this “other”, but something else…

Tags: Philosophy | Zen
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