Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


American Academy of Asian Studies

First Advisor

Not Mentioned


When the Zen master asks, "who are you?" a reply as to your name, age, and place of residence would be out of order. The proper answer might be silence. But if silence were consciously resorted to in contrast to sound, this would still be no answer. In fact, the only acceptable answer would lie in your merely being what you are at that very moment, without a second, or reflective, thought. And this amounts to being what you have always been and always will be. The question has to do with your "original nature," that which you were before you were born or even conceived. This nature is of the nature of voidness. To Western ears such statements may sound absurd. To us "self" is for the most part identified with what call "I," the subject; selfhood is that particular individuality which the body encloses and defines, or perhaps mechanistically gives rise to. But from the fact that we can say "my body" and "my self" a deeper sense of selfhood arisen--the sense that something "other" than the body and even "other" than the self-conscious mind resides within the body.