Dreaming Buddhas

Having woken up late and feeling groggy on Sunday I opened the shade to see the afternoon snow.


A once clouded head

Sees the floating snow–

Now cleared by clouds above


Anitya is the Buddhist concept that “the phenomenal world and our perceptions of it are constantly changing” (Inouye, 31). This single idea was the core of Japanese Buddhism, and as we learn in the Nara Buddhism excerpt, inspired multitude Japanese monarchs to adopt Buddhism as the religion/beliefs to live by (Tsunoda, 96). The two other important concepts to know from Buddhism are duhka and anatman which essentially mean the suffering inherent in life and “no-self” respectively (Inouye, 31, 32). We learn that these three ideas are connected in that by accepting anitya and the notion that you as a single entity don’t really exist you avoid the duhka in life—you “become more accepting and appreciative of simplicity” (Inouye, 32). I have trouble convincing myself that I don’t exist separately and, like all others things, possess a certain emptiness, or sunyata (Inouye, 37). Sure, I am not the same person I was yesterday, but on the other hand, I’m not just some random other person—there are undeniably a continuance of characteristics that solely I have. Life is brief and can end at any moment, yes, but I think until that inevitable end I am the sum of my experiences. Like our unnamed protagonist in As I Crossed the Bridge of Dreams, I can’t be certain of many things and have to accept the chaos that is life. She more or less dodges these notions and lives somewhat in a dream, continually subject to intense bouts of emotion that seem to wear on her. On the plus side though, it seems her vulnerability/spacey-ness permit her powerful feelings of koi or longing that really give her a beautiful appreciation of nature. These lyrical experiences of nature that I don’t struggle in having but in writing, she accomplishes swiftly and with ease. As one of the many women authors of the Heian period, poetry was the main form of communication and artistic expression. Hakanai is the main word to encompass the concept of continual change and thus unpredictability (Inouye, 26). To the women of the Heian period, this word was closely tied to romance, “where love is, generally speaking, hakanai—changing and fleeting” (Inouye, 27).

Ben deButts

This entry was posted in Week 2: From Hakanasa to Mujo. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Dreaming Buddhas

  1. Avatar of Madeline  Moe Madeline Moe says:

    I feel somewhat the same about the “no-self” concept. The other day I was drinking tea after class and the teabag said, “nothing is more important than the self”…and I was thinking a bit about how so many current techniques to pursue happiness in the crazy modern world involve intense focus on self as a means of achieving personal wellbeing (basically the opposite of what we’ve been talking about). I guess happiness hasn’t really been brought up as much as enlightenment in our conversations but it seems like a funny paradox is somewhere in this idea since I have the impression that a lot of the same people drawn to the simplicity and harmony with nature that Buddhism advocates are also strong proponents of recognizing what is good within the self and using that as a means to improve their lives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>