The Zen of (Some) Science Fiction

Shrinking Man

 

 

 

 

Scott Carey’s concluding monologue from the Incredible Shrinking Man, screenplay and book by Richard Matheson goes:

So close – the infinitesimal and the infinite. But suddenly, I knew they were really the two ends of the same concept. The unbelievably small and the unbelievably vast eventually meet – like the closing of a gigantic circle. I looked up, as if somehow I would grasp the heavens. The universe, worlds beyond number, God’s silver tapestry spread across the night. And in that moment, I knew the answer to the riddle of the infinite. I had thought in terms of man’s own limited dimension. I had presumed upon nature. That existence begins and ends in man’s conception, not nature’s. And I felt my body dwindling, melting, becoming nothing. My fears melted away. And in their place came acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation, it had to mean something. And then I meant something, too. Yes, smaller than the smallest, I meant something, too. To God, there is no zero. I still exist!

I’ve always loved the book the Shrinking Man, and, equally, maybe even more so, the movie the Incredible Shrinking Man.

Now I think zero isn’t a bad term, either. And, well, maybe zero is God.

With that small caveat I think Mr Matheson does a little pointing that many within the Zen world might find true. I do.

And it reminds me that awakening is the common inheritance of our humanity, a gift from the world itself. Zen offers some clarity about the matter and maybe even more importantly some spiritual disciplines that can keep us on track should we find seeing into the heart of our lives something important. But, bottom line, bottom line, awakening belongs to all of us.

 

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