Rudy, John G.
About the author: John G. Rudy, now Professor of English in the Department of Humanities at Indiana University Kokomo, has written on Wordsworth, Browning and Emerson. He received his PhD from The Pennsylvania State University.2001 0-7734-7461-72004 0-7734-6452-2
Critical discourse on Romanticism is grounded in an idiom of subject and object that avoids the literature’s drive to establish an alternative to the self-other dualism at the base of Western culture in general. This study offers an alternative way of reading Romantic texts, one predicated not on the assumption of a self to be affirmed, negated, or transcended but on the Zen Buddhist understanding that “The true Self is no-self” and that “Self-nature is no-nature”. The functional ethos of much Romantic writing, like the meditative dynamics of Zen Buddhist practice, entails the retrieval of a unitive, originary ground prior to all notions of selfhood. Accessing this ground follows patterns of meditative emptying by which individuals relinquish the compulsion either to assert independence through radical emphases on difference or to establish unity through variant modes of bridged togetherness. The result is neither subjective nor objective. It is, rather, an opening process that reveals how each thing in nature is both an autonomous unit of codependent activity and a holistic manifestation of ultimate reality. Reading selected British Romantic poems in the mode of self-emptying offered by Zen Buddhist meditative practice illuminates an alternative spiritual potential in Western literary engagement, moving individuals from a realm of understanding expressed in terms of a systematic grasping for intellectual and emotional straws to a process of awakening based in patterns of continual opening upon the grounds of a shared preconceptual nature.