Emptiness and Ambiguity

By Michael Chu

As I got off the bus stop and walked back to my dorm on Friday night, I realized how empty the campus was.

Cold night,

The bus leaves,


This week we moved from the concept of utsusemi to the concept of hakasana and mujō. Although the Buddhist concept of anitya is similar to the concept of utsusemi in the “notion of impermanence,” Buddhism brought two other ideas of duhka and anatman to Japan (Inouye 31). Duhka is an interesting idea— suffering comes from attaching to things that we can’t rely on (Lecture 1/28), and the only way to heal it is through “pondering anitya” (Inouye 31). By embracing the change around us, we will learn to appreciate the truth of anatman that we are changeable and conditional (Inouye 32). I am still having trouble in accepting the idea that my identity changes every day.  Who am I then? Good thing that the “relative permanence of our bodies help us formulate a sense of who we are” (Inouye 36). As the Japanese are willing to embrace the ambiguity of things, their lyrical responses to surroundings are powerful and spiritual. As seen in the book As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams, people based their conversations on poems. Such impulse to share space through poems is a spiritual idea as space and nature are sacred and approachable (Lecture 1/30). I actually like this mode of communication being based on poems because they convey more emotions and meanings beyond the simple words.

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