In that instant of unconscious response before cognition, was the emotion felt not one of pure joy? And might not that appearance of a smile, without self-awareness, surpassing words, express the fact that “ from the first, not a thing is”? Such a mental state can also be called The Flower of Peerless Charm. Thus it is that the very highest of the nine levels of excellence involves this Flower, which is assigned the characteristic of gold.
If both the chant and the dance have been fully mastered, then the exquisite appearance of the actor can astonish the heart and senses of the spectators; and in that instance when they are moved without taking cognizance of their reactions, the Flower of Peerless Charm can be said to exist. Such a moment represents Fascination and includes within itself as well the moment of Feeling That Transcends Cognition. All three of these expressions represent emotional states that transcend the workings of the conscious mind.
In a state that transcends consciousness, why is it that we can feel a sense of Fascination? It may indeed represent the fundamental quality that is Changeless; that is, never directly visible in any exterior manifestation.
In the nine levels of artistic excellence there are gold and silver levels, but neither can be directly experienced in a stage performance. Such matters must be grasped on a more profound level. A smile crosses the face without cognition through the coming of a sense of deep joy.
Gettan Soko has written, as the concluding half of a couplet, “what makes one happy cannot be spoken of,” expecting that those who read this line will add their own beginning.
from ‘Finding Gems, Gaining Flower‘ (1424) On the Art of the Noh Drama: The Major Treatises of Zeami, English translation J. Thomas Rimer and Yamazaki Masakuzu, Princeton U. Press, 1984.