Success and Failure

By Nina Watts

On Saturday after the storm, I looked out my window and saw wind blowing snow flurries around.

Flurries of snow
swirl past my window
and glitter in the setting sun

This week we discussed how success and failure relate to an understanding of evanescence and form. The truth of life is that failure will inevitably follow success and further, success doesn’t last. In other words: “We may be doing well today, but misfortune will strike tomorrow” (Inouye 50). However, an understanding of evanescence lessens the blow of this sad truth. If we understand that everyone is vulnerable to failure, the prospect of failing at something becomes less daunting. Everybody fails at some point. Even so, I feel that a lot of people share my personal fear of failure. I’ve never been in a situation where I felt good about my failures. For this reason, I really appreciate the Buddhist concept of detachment. As Chomei put it: “Buddha taught me we must not be attached” (Chomei 76). We cannot define ourselves merely on our successes and failures. Our dependence on such impermanent things will only cause suffering and in order to relieve our suffering, we must understand evanescence. “Nothing gives the mind stability like an awareness of the world’s radical instability” (Inouye 50). I really like that this concept has been deeply integrated into Japanese society. I’m glad that children are taught not to fear failure. Even so, it’s much easier to understand this concept than to live by it.

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One Response to Success and Failure

  1. I agree with you about fearing failure. I can understand detachment from a theoretical perspective, but not having grown up with it I think it’s hard for us to embrace. If we don’t define ourselves by our experiences, there is little semblance of a self (which I guess is what we’re supposed to be thinking), but I’ve more often been asked “who are you?” than been led to believe that I don’t really matter in the broad scheme of an evanescent world.

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