The notion of the 36th Chamber comes from Chines Chán Buddhism. An initiate slowly progresses in knowledge and training through 35 metaphorical chambers before finally entering the 36th – the true test: Life itself. All else was study.
I saw the graffiti in the photograph above whilst on an bike ride. It may be that the concept of the 36th Chamber was introduced to the creator of the graffiti by means of an album by American rap group the Wu-Tang Clan called Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), which itself was conceptually inspired by the classic martial arts film The 36th Chamber of Shaolin.
I’m fascinating by the concept of memes: ideas that spread and evolve, virus-like, between people. Here, with the concept of the 36th Chamber, is a perfect example of a meme at work: the idea travelling from its philosophical conception, through two separate and different creative mediums, and on into a third – the graffiti – which then inspires me whilst on a bike ride. Brilliant!
If you have read this blog before, you probably know I have a Mr. Hyde: THE EPHEMERAL MAN, through whom much of my creativity manifests these days. When I am The Ephemeral Man I let go of the worldly concerns of being me and enter into an altered state, where ideas flow freely.
Sometimes The Ephemeral Man manifests unannounced, which has not yet really become a problem. The bike ride was one such incidence of this. When I reached the graffiti underneath a bridge, The Ephemeral Man possessed me and a simple bike ride became something… more.
The Ephemeral Man has entered the 36th Chamber and has a life of his own. I am well pleased, and only a little disconcerted.
I am still myself, am I not?