“an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious for words.”
Yugen is a compound word, each part, yu and gen, meaning “cloudy impenetrability,” and the combination meaning “obscurity,” “unknowability,” “mystery,” “beyond intellectual calculability,” but not “utter darkness.” An object so designated is not subject to dialectical analysis or to a clear-cut definition. It is not at all presentable to our sense-intellect as this or that, but this does not mean that the object is altogether beyond the reach of human experience. In fact, it is experienced by us, and yet we cannot take it out into the broad daylight of objective publicity. It is something we feel within ourselves, and yet it is an object about which we can talk, it is an object of mutual communication only among those who have the feeling of it. It is hidden behind the clouds, but not entirely out of sight, for we feel its presence, its secret message being transmitted through the darkness however impenetrable to the intellect. The feeling is all in all. Cloudiness or obscurity or indefinability is indeed characteristic of the feeling. But it would be a great mistake if we took this cloudiness for something experientially valueless or devoid of significance to our daily life. We must remember that Reality or the source of all things is to the human understanding an unknown quantity, but that we can feel it in a most concrete way.
Words by Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki, in Zen and Japanese Culture
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