(adapted from Religion and Nothingness, by Prof. Keiji Nishitani, translated with
an introduction by Prof. Jan van Bragt, and with a foreword by Prof. Winston L.
King, 1982, Berkeley 1983)
All things that are in the world are linked
together, one way or the other. Not a single thing comes into being without some
relationship to every other thing. Scientific intellect thinks here in terms of
natural laws of necessary causality; mythico-poetic imagination perceives an organic,
living connection; philosophic reason contemplates an absolute One. But on a more
essential level, a system of circuminsession has to be seen here, according to
which, on the field of shunyata, all things are in a process of becoming master
and servant to one another. In this system, each thing is itself in not being
itself, and is not itself in being itself. Its being is illusion in its truth
and truth in its illusion. This may sound strange the first time one hears it,
but in fact it enables us for the first time to conceive of a force by virtue
of which all things are gathered together and brought into relationship with one
another, a force which, since ancient times, has gone by the name of 'nature'
To say that a thing is not itself means that, while continuing to
be itself, it is in the home-ground of everything else. Figuratively speaking,
its roots reach across into the ground of all other things and helps to hold them
up and keep them standing. It serves as a constitutive element of their being
so that they can be what they are, and thus provides an ingredient of their being.
That a thing is itself means that all other things, while continuing to be themselves,
are in the home-ground of that thing; that precisely when a thing is on its own
home-ground, everything else is there too; that the roots of every other thing
spread across into its home-ground. This way that everything has of being on the
home-ground of everything else, without ceasing to be on its own home-ground,
means that the being of each thing is held up, kept standing, and made to be what
it is by means of the being of all other things; or, put the other way around,
that each thing holds up the being of every other thing, keeps it standing, and
makes it what it is. In a word, it means that all things 'are' in the 'world'.
To imply that when a thing is 'on its own home-ground, it must at the same
time be on the home-ground of all other things' sounds absurd; but in fact it
constitutes the 'essence' of the existence of things. The being of things in themselves
is essentially circuminsessional. This is what we mean by speaking of beings as
'being that is in unison with emptiness', and 'being on the field of emptiness'.
For this circuminsessional system is only possible on the field of emptiness or