Buddhist Meditations
Zeami's conception of freedom
By Nagatomo, Shigenori
13/07/2010 14:05 (GMT+7)
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Zeami's conception of freedom

By Nagatomo, Shigenori

 Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Hawaii

Philosophy East and West

v.31, n.4 (0ctober 1981)


Copyright 1981 by The University Press of Hawai'i



Freedom, as it has been propounded in the rich variety of theories to be found in Western philosophy, has seldom been conceived as an achieved quality of a person. In this article I would like to demonstrate that "freedom" can best be understood in this manner and that one of the most interesting expressions of this view may be found in the work of the Japanese "critic" Zeamia (1363-1443), the "founder" of the aesthetics of the traditional Nohb drama. Freedom, in his view―as I will reconstruct it―admits of degrees; and moreover, since it is an achieved quality, it announces a qualitative dimension of action.


Western thinking about the nature of freedom has. it seems, two basic loci or concerns which are often closely interrelated: (1) freedom as necessary for morality, and (2) freedom as the opposite of causal determination.

    Aristotle, for example, says that the investigation of freedom is concerned with "studying the nature of virtue ... [and] the assignments both of honours and of punishments." ' According to Aristotle, a person is judged to be "free," when, at the time of the execution of his action, the "moving principle" is recognized to be located within himself. This "moving principle" is a power endowed within the agent, derived either from his rationality or his passions. In the matter of moral judgments, it is necessary to clearly distinguish whether or not a person is morally responsible. This either/or attitude is enunciated in Aristotle's distinction between "the voluntary" and "the involuntary." He writes:

Since that which is done under compulsion or by reason of ignorance is involuntary, the voluntary would seem to be that which the moving principle is in the agent himself, he being aware of the particular circumstance of the action.2

Aristotle understood "compulsory" action to mean that "the cause is in the external circumstance and the agent contributes nothing."3 Moreover, he refrained from considering a person "acting by reason of ignorance"' to be free, since such a person does not know "what he is doing."4 Therefore, to judge a person to be free, according to Aristotle's theory, a person who acts must be aware of his actions and that the "moving principle" must be located within himself, whether or not such a principle is derived from his rationality or passions.

    If the notion of moral responsibility was, and remains for many still, as the backbone of any meaningful theory of freedom, it is understandable why, as the advent of natural science made its impact felt upon philosophical science,



the issue of freedom came to be discussed vis à vis causal necessity or determinism. For purposes of some later comparisons, we can briefly cite Spinoza, Kant, and the "reconciliationists" as illustrative of those philosophers who tackled the issue of freedom in relation to causal necessity.

    Spinoza's interest in freedom was paramount, for "freedom of mind" was precisely what would lead to the "continuous, supreme, and unending happiness' which he sought.5 Spinoza understood "causal necessity" as that which is obtained in a rationally or logically ordered world. The structure of such a world assumed a deterministic outlook, with God as the cause qua single substance expressing his infinite being throughout nature.

    According to Spinoza, since it is impossible for us, in our finite mode of being, to trace an ultimate cause in the temporary contingent sequences of events, freedom of mind must be sought by tracing the logical or rational connections that are exemplified in nature. In this sense, freedom of mind may be conceived of as an attempt to approximate the understanding of God. Therefore, freedom was understood to lie in the active participation of reason, its opposite being "the mind's passive reception of idea impressed upon it from without."6 Consequently for Spinoza, who held to a parallelism between the mind and the body and further who thought emotions to be a confused idea, a step to freedom of mind consists, first of all, of formulating a clear and distinct idea of this confused idea of one's body. Once this is carried out, which allegedly results in the elimination of (evil) emotions, such a person is said to "love God and so much more in proportion as he more understands himself and his emotions."7 That the elimination of (passive) emotions leads a person to love God is based on Spinoza's assumption that "this love is associated with ail the modifications of the body."8 Furthermore, he maintained that "this love toward God is the highest good."9 A modality of the mind capable of attaining this love of God, the third kind of knowledge in Spinoza's terminology, is of the nature of intuitive understanding. Through this understanding arises the love of God, "accompanied by the idea of God as [its] cause." 10 This is what Spinoza calls "the intellectual love of God," which is "our salvation, or blessedness or freedom." '' As we shall subsequently show, however, this preoccupation with reason and intellectual understanding may be unnecessarily restrictive.

    Kant, on the other hand, in spite of his epistemology which prohibited a direct intuition of the noumenal world, was compelled to postulate two orders of causality to justify moral responsibility, saying that "I have therefore found it necessary to deny knowledge, in order to make room for faith,"12 and "though I cannot know freedom, I can yet think freedom." 13 Kant, who took freedom (in the cosmological sense) to mean "the power of beginning a state spontaneously,"14 encountered difficulty in explaining the apparent experiential fact of the freedom of the will, since he maintained firmly that the principle of causality applied strictly to all phenomena. By adhering closely to the



principle of causality, freedom of the will (which, according to Kant's epistemology. is not a sensible object of knowledge) had to be excluded from human reality. Accordingly, Kant was forced to rectify the constraint which he imposed upon himself by his epistemology, namely, how to relate freedom of the will (as a noumenal condition) to the principle of causality operative in the phenomenal world. Kant solved this conflict by placing freedom of the will outside the series of the causal principle, the cause of freedom becoming relegated to what Kant called the "intelligible" cause, and its effect to the "sensible" cause. He writes:

    The effects of such an intelligible cause appear, and accordingly can be determined through other appearances, but its causality is not so determined. While the effects are to be found in the series of empirical conditions, the intelligible cause, together with its causality, is outside the series.15

    This is. in effect, to postulate two orders of causality, the notion of freedom extending into the two disparate worlds of phenomena and noumena, and the bridge between them is an effect of the freedom of the will. Therefore, freedom as "the power of beginning a state spontaneously" was viewed by Kant as having its cause in the intelligible causality, which is beyond our experience, while its effect is in the sensible cause which is experienced in our sensible intuition. In short, Kant rejected the notion of freedom as a possible object of knowledge.

    The "reconciliationists" (for example, Schlick. Hobart, Ayer) were opposed to any kind of "metaphysical" (and, to them, hopelessly obscure) resolution of the problem of freewill/determinism and, tracing their ancestry back to at least Hume, argued that the problem could be solved by a careful analysis of the meaning of the concepts "freedom" and "causal law." A proper analysis of these concepts, they believed, would show that rather than being opposed to freedom, causal law was necessary for its realization.

    Schlick in particular argued that causal laws are essentially descriptive in character; they do not prescribe how events should occur (or must occur); they only describe how events do occur.16 Psychological laws, he argues, thus do not compel a person to behave in a certain way, they simply express how a person does behave in certain situations "in the same manner as the astronomical laws describe the nature of planets." 17  Freedom, when understood in its most general signification as the absence of external constraint, has then as its opposite not caused behavior but just chaos. Without causal regularity (of a noncompulsive kind) freedom would be impossible.


    Although there is no explicit treatment of freedom in Zeami's works―his main concern as an art critic being to formulate, based upon his own experience on stage as an actor, a theory of theatrical art (Noh)―a rich


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conception of freedom nevertheless may be seen to emerge out of his examination of Noh. Freedom here opens up its horizon through "training" [keikoc] which aims at attaining "flowers" [hanad] that blossom out of "artistic ranks" [gei-ie]. The metaphor of "flowers" is said to designate particularly a "beauty" that is expressed through the actor's performance on stage, and abstractly an "ideal" or "essential property" of the art of Noh drama that is to be achieved in each stage of an actor's lifelong training.18 Zeami places primary importance on "training" as instrumental to attaining "flowers." In his own words, "even if an artistic rank is attained naturally, without training, it is useless." 19

    The purpose of "training" is to attain "flowers": "To know flowers in Noh is ... a supreme first priority, and essential."20 But. according to Zeami, "flowers" should not be attained in view of enhancing one's artistic ranks, for, he says: "To train oneself in view of attaining an artistic rank is ... inappropriate."21 It might seem that Zeami's contention, derived from his own experience, here is paradoxical, for he says that the purpose of "training" is to attain "flowers" which blossom out of an artistic rank, but one should not train himself with the intention of attaining an artistic rank. How then―should one go about training himself, or what is "training" as understood by Zeami?

    Zeami understands training to be "a molding block [kata-gi f]  in order to master such things as singing, dancing, acting and imitating."22 Training, generally speaking, then means to put one's body into a certain "form" [katag].23 Specifically, it means an acquisition of various performing techniques [wazah] by means of appropriating modalities of one's body. It is a process of bodily acquisition [taitoku i]. In Zeami's scheme of "training," appropriation of "singing and dancing" [nikyoku j] constitutes a prerequisite for learning to "imitate" [monomane k], for without a complete mastery of basic ways of comporting one's body appropriate for a song that is designed for a given series of bodily movements, one cannot "imitate" authentically the movements and the accompanying ethos peculiar to "a woman, man and elder" [santai l ].Training qua imitation then comes to mean an appropriation of various modalities of one's body.

    "Imitation" as understood by Zeami is rather unique. He recognizes two types of "imitation".24 One is the "style without mastery" [mushū-fū m].  Mushū-fū, literally translated, is a style without a subject. We see in this literal translation Zeami's consistent understanding of "training", that is, to put one's body into a certain "form," for it clearly indicates that an actor qua subject cannot allow an interference of his subjective inclinations to influence the process of training. This point is easily understandable, for in the training of any martial art (for example, karate), one does not learn first how to theorize intellectually various techniques before he learns to move his body in order to achieve a perfect form of bodily action or to trigger an automatic



response to an attack. The other type of "imitation" is an imitation with the' "style with mastery" [yushū-fū n].  Again, a literal rendition of yushū-fū  reveals what Zeami really intended to convey by this term. It is a performing "style with a subject." At first, a beginning actor learns to "imitate thoroughly his master,"25 and, hence, in practice "bracketing," as it were, his own subjectivity. But as he subjects himself to a rigorous, cumulative training, he comes to '"own what is imitated" and "become what is imitated"26 ,

    A uniqueness of Zeami's understanding of "imitation" lies in his recognition of the transformation from the "style without mastery" to the "style with mastery." Through an appropriation of various modalities of one's body, this transformation is said to be effected. Moreover, "if one truly becomes and enters into what is being imitated, after a [complete] mastery of imitation, there is no [intention of] mind which attempts to imitate."27 Accordingly, "imitation" for an actor with the "style without mastery" can be interpreted as a prescription for acquiring various modalities that are the performing techniques. Henceforth, the training qua imitation is a necessary condition for attaining to the "style with mastery." Seen in this manner, this prescription is a process of appropriation for a novice or aspiring actor.

    The practical meaning of the training in the Noh drama lies in effecting a transformation from the "style without mastery" to the "style with mastery." The two types of "imitation" thus understood are also reflected in Zeami's notion of "flowers." He distinguishes basically two types of "flowers": the one is that which blossoms temporarily and withers away like a natural flower, that is, the flowers that are dependent upon and subject to the acquisition of performing techniques for their expression. Zeami writes:

all these [flowers] are apparent to the eyes, but, since they blossom from out of the performer's techniques, there is soon the time for them to wither away.28

And the other type is the "true flower" whose "principle of both blossoming and withering away should be in accord with a person"29 . The "true flower" is a full blossom of one's artistic achievement that is a culmination of one's training. An obvious contention here is that a "true flower" cannot be expressed by an actor with "the style without mastery"; for the expression of beauty by means of "the style without mastery" is achieved through performing techniques that are merely the bodily modalities.

In actuality, this transformation of the styles corresponds roughly to Zeami's hierarchical division of the "artistic ranks" into nine stages.30 "Artistic ranks" may be understood as an "objective" evaluation of actor's performing techniques that express a relative degree of beauty. Zeami conceives of the "nine artistic ranks" as attainable in terms of a progressive ascent of appropriation. The more one appropriates various modalities of performing techniques, the more he approximates a perfect beauty that is the "true flower."


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         How are we to understand philosophically Zeami's notion of "training" which our investigation has revealed to be an appropriation of one's bodily modalities qua "imitation"? Zeami, as we have seen, recognizes "training" as the fashioning of one's body into a certain form (kata). If the meaning of "training" is to put one's body into a series of regulated forms, the body exists as something "heavy," resisting a complete command of the mind. Does this "training" not mean that one's body is taken to have a practical precedence over one's mind in defining what a person is? If this is the case. then one's fashioning of one's body into a certain "form" amounts to the rejection of the working of his consciousness. As we recall, one's subjectivity is put into a practical "bracket," as it were, in the process of appropriating various modalities of performing techniques. At this point, Zeami seems to be posing a serious question concerning the nature of a person, especially the nature of human consciousness.

    Although it is true in our everyday experience that our mind, in the broadest sense of the term, gives various commands to our body (for example to stop a car, my mind or my "will" commands my foot, a part of my body, to press down on the brake), this predominance or practical precedence of our mind over our body gives us a sense of "free will." In this sense, our body is considered to be a servant or slave of our mind. But it does not immediately follow from this that the being of a person must be defined solely in terms of his mind. This assumption has been a dominant presupposition in the long tradition of Western philosophy. We are all familiar with Parmenides' 'being' in terms of its "thinkability," or with Descartes' cogito ergo sum as the ground of indubitable certainty of truth. Zeami's contention concerning the meaning of "training" seems to be diametrically opposed to this predominant presupposition. Suppose a person loses his consciousness in a traffic accident. If we identify a person as a person only by reference to his conscious state of mind, he does not qualify as a person under the Cartesian premise: he would be "no longer human." But, what identifies a person as a person in such a circumstance is his unconscious body, although this presupposes a presence of another conscious mind. However, even apart from this consideration, it is an obvious, perhaps too obvious, fact that were one to perform a bodily action, free or otherwise, it inevitably involves a certain modality or movement of one's body. Without a body, no action, much less free action, is conceivable.

    To understand our "free will" in terms of our mind commanding our body is, then, to accept the fact ―that the mind and body exist in our everyday experience as being ambiguous, or dichotomous 31Our body, according to this assumption, exists for our mind as an object to be perceived by the mind or to be "moved around" by the mind only to the extent that it follows the dictates of the mind. This is possible only within a "natural" framework of our sensory―motor circuit.

    It has been pointed out by Yuasa Yasuo that in recognition of this disparity



between our mind and body, Zeami conceives of "training" in a spirit similar to Zen cultivation.32 Here, we witness a similar attitude of Zeami toward his understanding of "training," that is, to fashion one's body into a certain bodily "form." The essential meaning of Zen cultivation consists of the conformation of an individual to a particular bodily "form," whether it pertains to seated meditation or to daily activities prescribed by monastic rules. The underlying assumption is that one learns to correct one's mode of consciousness first by assuming a certain bodily "form-" This assumption is. accepted by Zen in view of the earlier mentioned ambiguity of a person in his everyday mode of experience. Otherwise, Zen will have to accept a most disagreeable consequence, namely, that an essential characterization of a person is a "divided self." This consequence, however, cannot be tolerated in view of Zen's contention that a person is originally or primodially an identity of both his mind and body. This means that the respective status of our mind and body is equal, existentially as well as axiologically. Appropriation of various modalities of one's body in the Noh training, consequently, means to destroy the imbalance between the mind and the body, or rather to "dissolve" the ambiguous character of our mind and body so as to restore a primordial identity.

        If we view the "training" in the art of Noh in this manner, its lifelong cultivation comes to mean the completion of appropriating various modalities of one's body such that the movements of the body and those of the mind come to agree with each other completely; or, as Zeami says: "For a true flower, the principle of both blossoming and withering away should be in accord with a person."33 In this sense, the process of appropriation is characterized, according to Yuasa, as the process of "subjectivization" [shutaika o] of the body.34 We have seen this to be the case when we dealt with the notion of "imitation" in its transformation from "the style without mastery" to "the style with mastery." This characterization captures well one aspect of the training process, such that an inordinate body becomes gradually absorbed in the modality of the mind as an actor progresses along the ascending scale of attaining artistic ranks.

        The existential as well as axiological status of our mind and body in our everyday mode of experience is ambiguous, and it is based on this ambiguity or bifurcation that "freedom of will" has been discussed. In light of this bifurcation, our body exists as something "heavy," resisting the dictates of our mind. However, the body gradually becomes "lighter" by the process of appropriating various techniques in such a way that its movement becomes autonomous, independent from the striving consciousness to achieve a "flower." To put it differently, the body as that which is perceived is gradually turned, as it were, into that which does the perceiving; that is, the body becomes a true initiator of action. The primordial identity between the mind and body is restored, resulting in a harmonization of the disparity that is


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experienced in our everyday mode of existence. A practical demand for dissolving the ambiguous mode of our everyday existence is most acutely felt in the case of Noh drama where an intricate, spontaneous flow of the bodily movements accompanied by a graceful agility is essential for the expression of beauty. Obviously, this cannot be achieved if one were to think how to coordinate his body and mind during the time of performance. It has to be carried out "without thinking" [hishiryō p], as Dōgen might put it.35 It is an "identity of body―mind in action" [shin shin ichi  nyoq].36 If considered philosophically, the practical demand for dissolution of the preceding ambiguity, then, means the effecting of a transformation from the everyday mode of experience to the non-everyday mode of experience, through which a "harmonization" of the respective movements of the mind and body takes place. When this transformation is achieved fully, then, the body is no longer an object to be "ordered around" by the mind, but rather is completely appropriated through "training."

        In the foregoing, we have briefly described Zeami's theory of theatrical art insofar as it pertains to his notion of "training." We can now briefly represent its structure in the diagram below;


                                       C:the identity of body-mind in action

non-everyday mode of experience

B : everyday mode of experience

                   Zeami's Theory of Training

In this diagram the line AB represents an everyday mode of experience in which the existential and axiological status of the mind and body are not equal to each other and the respective functions of the mind and body are separated. We have seen that in the process of appropriation qua imitation, there occurs a transformation from the everyday mode of experience to the non-everyday mode of experience. This process is represented by the ascent from point A to point C. Indicated is an aspect of the bodily modalities that change by virtue of the training, that is, appropriation qua imitation. Along this line we can topographically indicate the different kinds of "flowers" relative to the degree of the achievement of the actor's performing techniques, such as "timely



flower' and "temporary flower." Also, the nine artistic ranks" can be plotted along this line. When the ascending movement reaches the apex C, an actor is said to have achieved the ultimate state of expression, the "true flower." Prior to this point, what distinguishes different kinds of "flowers" is the degree of perfection of the performing techniques, that is, a process of appropriation qua imitation with the "style without mastery."

        A realization of the "true flower" as the ideal of Noh cannot be preceded, according to Zeami's reflection upon his own experience, by a relative degree of achievement of performing techniques. He says:

Know that this [true] flower cannot be lost. The mind which penetrates this is the seed of the flower. Since this is the case, if you want to know the flower, first know its seed. The flower is the mind and its seed the performing techniques.37

        The reason that the "true flower" cannot be lost is that it is not dependent upon the performing techniques for its embodiment and expression. "For a true flower, the principle of both blossoming and withering away should be in accord with a person."38 What interests me at this point is Zeami's contention that "the flower is the mind" . What does this mean? Zeami seems to be saying here that, for the expression and embodiment of the "true flower" on stage, one has to acquire a certain modality of consciousness directly commensurate with the performing techniques expressive of the "true flower." Naturally, we must be clear about the fact that the modality of being a body which accompanies the expression of the "true flower" is not the same, in terms of its relative relationship with the mind, as the body which we experience in our everyday existence. It is the body that has become "lighter" as a result of the rigorous and cumulative training, in the sense that it follows freely along with the movements of the mind. What, then, is the relationship between the modality of the body and that of the mind at the time when an actor expresses and embodies the "true flower" on stage?

        This brings us to the discussion of the last stage of an actor's training in terms of his subjective attitude toward performance, wherein the distinction between subject and object is "unified" or "harmonized," to use Nishio Minoru's characterization.39 Zeami recognizes two levels in the last stage of the "training": one is "the easy rank" [an-i r] (or "the mind-at-ease" [an-shinu] and the other is the "matured rank" [ran-is] (or "no-mind" [mu-shint], the latter being attained only after "breaking through" the former. These two stages are developed, in terms of our previous discussion on "imitation," after an actor has achieved the "style without mastery." The "easy rank" is the state of artistic achievement wherein "all the performing techniques can be expressed in accordance with [the actor's] intention."40

"The easy rank" is further divided into "the skilled one" [tasshav] and "the masterful one" [jōzuw] Although both "the skilled one" and "the masterful one" are used to refer to an actor who has thoroughly mastered "dancing and



singing," an attitude of mind taken toward a performance distinguishes the former from the latter. The former attends to the technical aspect of the body, while the latter the fullness of the inner state of mind. Zeami writes, "Noh that is performed through mind. knowing its attractive experience, deserves the name of the masterful one, even though its performing techniques may not excel the skilled one."42 Zeami characterizes a performance by "the masterful one" as "the full operation of the mind with seventy percent of the body."43 With "the full operation of the mind," "the masterful one" performs a dance, for example, in such a way that "the mind causes [the movements of the body] to be activated less than itself, stopping at the more interior."44 Such an actor, according to Yuasa's interpretation, "performs with a self-possessed mind, without, however, exaggerating the outward performative expression."45

Those at the level of "the easy rank" attend to either the technical aspect of the performance or the fullness of the mind. However, this attitude of mind is imbalanced, given the ultimate state of the "true flower" in which the identity of the body-mind in action is said to be obtained. The goal of "the matured rank," therefore, is precisely to eliminate this imbalanced attitude wherein the complete appropriation of both mind and body is accomplished. Zeami characterizes the difference between "the masterful one" and the one in "the matured rank" as follows;

A beginning actor may learn that an actor in the style of this art sometimes demonstrates an exotic style with the state of the matured mind after he has thoroughly mastered the skilled [rank of performance].46

An actor in "the matured rank" can "change the unacceptable [performance] to the acceptable with the efficacy of the skilled one's style."47 In other words, the performing techniques issuing from such a rank defies the evaluation of being good or bad, or right or wrong. It is a mark of creativity. Therefore, "the matured rank" is said to "synthesize that which is considered to be proper to Noh drama with that which is not considered to be so."48

In "the matured rank," the gap between the movements of the body and those of mind, which is clearly discernible in "the easy rank," is totally eliminated such that an actor's consciousness of performance disappears altogether. A modality of consciousness is no longer the source of sending an order to the body. Moreover, a modality of the body is completely autonomous such that it functions harmoniously with the working of consciousness. This is the state of "no-mind": the functions of both mind and body are fully "incarnated" in the actor.

From this state of "no-mind," Zeami contends, is produced the state of mind such as "seeing with a detached seeing" [riken no ken x] and "seeing with the same mind as the one seeing from the audience" [kensho dōshiny].49 A "detached seeing" is contrasted with the "ego's seeing" [gakenz] and hence it is an elimination of the ego-consciousness. It becomes a "seeing with the same



mind as the one seeing from the audience." What is seen, or observed, is an" actor's performing figure, his moving body in a regulated sequence of meta-morphosizing configurations that is the expression of beauty on stage. It is a full expression of beauty in action. And yet, the regulated sequence of his -movements is spontaneous, independent of the striving consciousness of the actor. The actor, now in gentle gracefulness, is totally appropriated in that both his body and mind are a genuine agent of expressing freedom. Moreover, his performance is a controlled spontaneity, because it springs from the various "forms" that are achieved through appropriating qua imitation. It is spontaneous because his performance goes beyond the prescription of the performing techniques. The controlled spontaneity becomes of itself an expression of creativity. However, this is not revealed to the eye of an uninformed "seer." Those who can discern these features are those who know the maximum limitation of what the performing techniques can bring forth. Beyond the threshold of this limitation lies freedom of action and of mind par excellence.

An actor who is observing his own performance is a "detached" seer in the mode of being "outside of himself." His state of consciousness is "detached" precisely because his mind, though admittedly a crude term to use, is no longer a master of his action. It is a witnessing consciousness, free of the noetic positing of intentionality and the constitution of a meaning that accompanies it. Hence, "the matured rank" is also called "no-mind." It is not that there is (literally) no mind,' but the mode of its being is such that there is absolutely no need to posit a noematic content for it to be.

That "no-mind," peculiar to the state of "the matured rank" and which does not require a positing noematic content, may be symbolically understood • by the emphasis Zeami placed on the notion of "nonperformance rank" [senu-i aa], which he came to consider in his later years the highest achievement of Noh.50 What Zeami means by " nonperformance" is an attitude of mind taken toward the pause between performing movements. "It is a mindful inner state [of an actor] without discarding his mind between pauses."51 Zeami warns that this inner state should not be observed from the outside, for it would turn into a "performing technique." It is an efficacy of mind that is capable of uniting every Noh [drama] into one mind [ishinab]. In expressing such an efficacy, "one should make a connection between pauses in [the state of] 'no-mind" rank with the mind-at-ease so as not to disclose one's mind to oneself."52 Although the achievement of such an inner state presupposes a rigorous, cumulative training, that is, a self-cultivation, Zeami says that "it should not be restricted [to an actor] on stage. Being mindful night and day of this [attitude of] mind, in walking, standing, sitting, and lying down, one should maintain it in everyday life."53 This description is analogous to an ideal state of mind that is often talked about in Zen.

We can now spell out the characteristics essential to the phenomenon of freedom as it emerges out of our reconstruction and analysis of Zeami's



teaching. According to our interpretation, the phenomenon of freedom cannot announce itself except through the progressive ascending movements by means of appropriation qua imitation, which reaches the zenith of "the matured rank.'* Henceforth, freedom can be regarded as an achieved quality of a person, whose horizon is revealed to us only through the process of "training." The uniqueness of this conclusion lies in the fact that one's body takes a practical precedence over one's mind in achieving it. Moreover, freedom, insofar as it is an ability to express a "flower" of the art of Noh, in its particular and ideal sense, admits of degrees relative to the acquisition of performing techniques, as well as the restoration of the primordial unity of a person. This was seen most clearly when we discussed "the easy rank" and "the matured rank." Freedom that obtains at "the easy rank" is concerned with its aspect of action, its process of attaining to this rank also revealing varying degrees of expression of freedom. On the other hand, freedom that is expressive of "the matured rank" is concerned not only with freedom of action, since this rank is temporally preceded by "the easy rank," but also with freedom of mind, perhaps the most genuine sense of freedom. We have seen that freedom in those two aspects contains as its constitutive elements u controlled spontaneity and creativity. Moreover, a qualitative aspect of both freedom of action and that of mind has been discerned when we discussed the relative perfection of performing techniques and various attitudes of mind taken towards them.


As we attempt to contrast Zeami's theory of freedom, as reconstructed through our analysis, with those of Western theories briefly outlined at the beginning of this article, the following features stand out most conspicuously.

These Western theories, except Spinoza's, are construed by accepting freedom (of will) as a given experiential fact. This is the case only if we presuppose an existential as well as axiological ambiguity that exists between the mind and the body in the field of our everyday experience. On the other hand, Zeami's theory is construed as the appropriation of the non-everyday mode of experience through the process of imitation. Consequently, freedom thus revealed is an achieved quality of a person, its qualitative dimension being recognized first in the performing techniques and subsequently in the inner state of mind. This is because Zeami's sense of freedom is disclosed through the training which functions as an alteration of the bodily modalities in the progressive ascending movement of appropriation qua imitation. This ascending movement parallels approximately the manner in which Spinoza's freedom of mind as "the intellectual love of God" is envisioned, for it is said to be attained after eliminating various modifications of the body, which is a "confused" idea. However, for Spinoza, the manner of reaching "the intellectual love of God" is carried out through tracing the rational connections



that obtain in the order of existence by means of "intuitive understanding." I might further note that Spinoza arrives at the freedom of mind at the expense of freedom of action, for he clearly subordinates the body to that of the rational, intuitive mind.

Theories of freedom which are based upon an intellectual reflection on freedom as a given experiential fact have analyzed the phenomenon in terms of an either/or attitude. This is most prominently articulated in Aristotle's distinction between the "voluntary" and the "involuntary." The reconciliationist's position is also worked out within the same framework, for its problematic is to dissolve a conflict of either "a man is free" or "he is determined." With Kant's two orders of causality, this either/or attitude is most clearly apparent, for the distinction between "the intelligible" and "the sensible" causalities is an ad hoc affair made in order to save freedom of will as a "power of beginning a state spontaneously^ In sharp contrast to this methodological approach via intellectual reflection, Zeami's notion of freedom is disclosed by the subjecting of the intellectual aspect of a person to a "practical epoché." In so doing, according to Zeami, a person achieves freedom of action and that of mind in proportion to the degree he appropriates various modalities of his body, that is, performing techniques. This accounts for the fact that Zeami's notion of freedom admits of degrees of expressing and embodying freedom of action, as well as an inner state of mind.

These "degrees of freedom" result from the fact that Zeami recognized a multidimensional structure of human experience. I have briefly indicated this when I dealt with the transformation from the everyday mode of experience to the non-everyday mode of experience in reference to the degree of achievements in training qua imitation. Unlike Zeami's multidimensional structure of experience, theories of freedom, with the possible exception of Kant and Spinoza, have been formulated along a one-dimensional plane. When this one-dimensional plane of experience as the locus of the problem of freedom is combined with intellectual reflection as the proper tool to define freedom, it would seem inevitable to conceive of freedom in terms other than an either/or proposition.

Under Aristotle's analysis, Zeami's notion of freedom cannot be sustained, for the process of appropriation qua imitation in Zeami's conception of training is a "moving principle" that is outside of an agent. According to Aristotle, this is a "compulsory" action, for the process of appropriation qua imitation in Zeami, as we have seen, is a prescription of fashioning one's body in a regulated sequence of "forms." Kant's effort to place freedom of will outside of the sensible causal series is similar in spirit, that is, to place the "intelligible" cause of an agent outside of the "prescription" (or necessity) of the causal series. In this sense, Zeami's theory of freedom is comparable in spirit to the reconciliationist's position which sees a logical connection between freedom of will and determinism. Freedom, according to Zeami, is achieved



through the prescription that is imposed upon one's body. Appropriation qua imitation is a necessary condition for actualizing freedom. Upon closer scrutiny, however, determinism, with which the reconciliationist is concerned, is different from the prescription operative in Zeami's theory, for the notion of determinism for the reconciliationist is taken to be diametrically opposed to the notion of freedom of the will which is operative in the field of our everyday experience. Hence, it is operative on the same horizontal plane as freedom of the will. Zeami's prescription, on the other hand, is a process imposed upon the progressive ascending movement that takes the field of everyday experience. wherein both freedom of the will and determinism in the reconciliationist's sense are operative, as its point of departure. Moreover, Zeami's conception of prescription, discernible in his notion of "imitation," is far from Spinoza's rational necessity, since Zeami's notion of "imitation" has nothing whatsoever to do with rationality. We remember that the training is the fashioning of one's body into "forms."

In the final analysis, the difference between Zeami's notion of freedom and those of Western theories which we considered may reduce to the question of what we understand to be the "true self" of a person. If Zeami's description of "the matured rank" or "no-mind" is an indication of what the "true self" of a person is, which he seems to be implying, theories of freedom are closely connected with the problem of discovering what is the "true self". This has rightly been pointed out by Frithojof Bergmann in his book, On Being Free54 The major difference between most Western theorists and the theory advanced by Zeami lies, respectively, in the difference between "true self understood in terms of a one-dimensional plane of everyday experience and "true self" understood in terms of a multidimensional structure of human experience. Aristotle's "identification" of a "true self," to use Bergmann's term,55 is clearly one-dimensional, and this is likewise true of the reconciliationists. Moreover, Kant's empirical self, as the "true self," is clearly one-dimensional. In sharp contrast to these, Zeami recognized, as a consequence of the practical, experiential fact, that an actor, in the process of appropriation qua imitation, undergoes a transformation from the everyday mode of experience to the non-everyday mode of experience.

If we interpret Zeami in this manner, his contention would be that the "true self" of a person is that which is disclosed after a person goes through rigorous, cumulative training. Thus, the "true self* of a person, according to Zeami, is an embodiment and expression of freedom of action as well as that of mind. As Zeami insisted throughout his works, this cannot be achieved by an intellectual understanding, but only through the training that is the appropriation qua imitation. Zeami's notion of freedom thus carries with it the metaphysical implication that the "true self" is attainable if and only if a person undertakes an existential project of correcting one's modality of consciousness by imposing upon himself a disciplined way of putting one's



body into a "form," whether it be through meditation or the training of martial arts. The general term that includes the art of the Noh drama is called "the way of artistry" [gei-dōac]. "The way" (dō) in this word means a guiding path that leads a person to the attainment of the "true self."



1. Aristotle. Nichomachean Ethics. Richard McKeon, ed., in The Basic Works of Aristotle (New York: Random House. 1949), p. 963 [11109 b].

2. Ibid., p, 967 [I 111 a].[Back]

3. Ibid., p. 964 [1110 a].[Back]

4. Ibid.. p. 966 [1 i 10 a],[Back]

5. De Benedict Spinoza, Ethics, trans. R. H. M. Elwes (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1966), p. 3.[Back]

6. Stuart Hampshire. "Spinoza and the Idea of Freedom," in Studies in Spinoza: Critical and Interpretive Essays, ed. Paul Kashap (Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press. 1974). p. 311.[Back]

7. Spinoza. Part V. Prop. XV.[Back]

8. Spinoza. Part V. Prop, XVI, Proof.[Back]

9. Spinoza. Part V, Prop. XX. Proof.[Back]

10. Spinoza, Part V, Prop. XXXII. [Back]

11. Spinoza, Part V. Prop. XXXXVI, Note.[Back]

12. Immanuel Kant. Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Norman E. Smith (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1965),p.29(Bxxx).[Back]

13. Ibid., p. 28 [Bxxviii] [Back]

14. Ibid..p.464[A533/B561],[Back]

15. Ibid., p. 467 [A537/B565].[Back]

16. Moritz Schlick, "When Is A Man Responsible?" in Free Will and Determinism, ed. Bernard Berofsky (New York: Harper & Row Publishers. 1966), p. 57.[Back]

17. Ibid. [Back]

18. Yuasa Yasuo. Shinlai: Tōyōreki .shinshinron no kokoromi [Body: Toward an eastern theory of botiy-mmd} (Tokyo: sōbun-sha, 1976), p. 130.[Back]

19. Nose Asaji, Zeami jūrokuhu shū hvoshaku, vol. 1 [Commentary on Zeami's sixteen hooks]

(Tokyo: Iwanami-Shoten, 1963), pp. 102-103.[Back]

20. Ibid., p. 119.[Back]

21. Ibid., p. 103.[Back]

22. Ibid., p. 103.[Back]

23. The "form" [katachi] is the Japanese reading of the first character which makes up the compound, kaia-gi ["molding block"], in the immediately preceding quotation.[Back]

24. Nose, pp. 444-45.[Back]

25. Ibid.[Back]

26. Ibid., p. 445. [Back]

27. Ibid.. p. 227. [Back]

28. Ibid., p. 120. [Back]

29. Ibid., p. 120. This sentence is translated from another version (Yoshida-bon). The sentence in other versions reads: "principle of both blossoming and withering away should he in accord with the mind [of an actor]."[Back]

30. Ibid,, pp. 547-583.[Back]

31. Yuasa.p. 131.[Back]

32. Ibid., p. 130. [Back]

33. Nose. p. 120. [Back]



34. Yuasa,p. 132. [Back]

35. Dōgen characterizes, in the fascicle of "'Zazen-shni'" in Shōhōgenzō, a mode of consciousness in the deep meditative stale as "thinking without thinking." But in view of his notion of "shin shin ichi nyo" [an identity of body-mind in action], "thinking without thinking" can be extended to cover the performance of a matured actor. See the note 36. herein. [Back]

36. The phrase, "shin shin ichi nyo," is usually rendered in English as "an equality (or identity) of body and mind." The present rendition "an identity of body-mind in action." is adopted from Tazato's interpretation. See Tazato Yakumu. Dōgen zen nyumon [Introduction to Dōgen Zen] Tokyo: Sangyo Noritsu Tanki Daigaku Shuppanbu. 1978), p. 135. [Back]

37. Nose, p. 120, [Back]

38. Ibid. [Back]

39- Nishio Minoru, Zeami no noh geiron [Zeami'f theory of noh] (Tokyo: Iwanami-shoten, 1974), p. 273. [Back]

40. Shinkai Nagafusa, Zeami to noh no kokoro [Zeami and the heart of noh] (Tokyo: Kusunoki-shoten, 1951), p. 69. [Back]

41. Nose. p. 347. [Back]

42. Ibid. [Back]

43. Nose. p. 285. [Back]

44. Ibid., pp. 285-286. [Back]

45. Yuasa,p. 135.  [Back]

46. Nose. p. 446.  [Back]

47. Nose, p. 450, 48- Shinkai, p. 21. [Back]

49. Nose, p. 306. [Back]

50. Nishio, p. 89. [Back]

51. Nose, p. 376. [Back]

52. Ibid., p. 376. [Back]

53. Ibid., p. 369. [Back]

54. Frithojof Bergmann, On Being Free (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1977), pp. 15-40, 79-103. [Back]

55. Ibid., pp. 31-37. [Back]

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