chapter  5
Structuring Relations
Pages 32

We have seen that the idea of the Zen arts as a representation of Japanese culture is tied to an aesthetic register, which in performance is re-presented by individual practitioners. An idea of Japanese tradition is also manifested in the Zen arts through the iemoto system of hierarchical organisation and authority. The founding principle of this system is that it structures the involvement, and determines the status, of every participant. However, in the religio-aesthetic theory of the Zen arts, performance and accomplishment reflect a state of mind and are directly opposed to any notion that they can be equated with rank. The issue is the same as it was for the relationship between a representative form and pure experience which should be 'formless'. That contradiction was resolved through an aesthetic register which simultaneously referred to particular states of mind. It is through another mystical register of notions such as ishin-denshin ('transmitting ideas from mind-to-mind'), amae ('intimacy and dependence'), ma ('presencing through spatial/temporal absences'), and haragei ('the unspoken way') that the iemoto system is held to cultivate an 'intuitive unity of consciousness among all who participate' (Heine 1995: 34). As Steven Heine writes: 'The iemoto structure fosters exclusive, hierarchical and non rational bonding relations as found in artistic and esoteric traditions, which constitute a 'way' (do or michi) of self-discipline and etiquette' (ibid, 41-42).