Shrutarshi Basu 

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The Zen of Dune

Started on February 8, 2023. Published on February 8, 2023.

Zen | Movies |

I finally got around to watching Denis Villeneuve’s Dune over the weekend. I appreciated how beautiful and well-considered it was, but I’ll have to watch it again to make up my mind as to how much I actually liked it. It also very clearly felt like the first half of a movie, rather than a complete one. All that being said, what really struck me is what one of the characters, Jamis, says in one of Paul Atreides’ visions:

The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience. A process that cannot be understood by stopping it. We must move with the flow of the process. We must join it.

I’ve been semi-seriously studying Zen Buddhism for the past few years, and over the last month have been reading DT Suzuki’s excellent Essays in Zen Buddhism. The little bit of monologue above reminded me of something that Suzuki writes in the introduction:

Life as it is lived suffices. It is only when the disquieting intellect steps in and tries to murder it that we stop to live and imagine ourselves to be short of or in something. Let the intellect alone, it has its usefulness in the proper sphere, but let it not interfere with the flowing of the life stream. If you are at all tempted to look into it, do so while letting it flow. The fact of flowing must under no circumstances be arrested or meddled with; for the moment your hands are dipped into it, its transparency is disturbed, it ceases to reflect your image which you have had from the very beginning and will continue to have to the end of time.

The same idea, told in two different ways, in two different contexts. Be like water.