Evanescence of Success

By Michael Chu

I was walking to Davis square on a Saturday night and experienced the aftermath of the blizzard.

Waist- deep snow
Narrow pathway
Footprints entrenched

This week we focused on talking about the concept of ukiyo, the floating world. The Buddhists suggested that we should get out of our house to end suffering (Lecture 2/4). As a house is a symbol of a part of us that wants to last forever, we can’t truly invest in a permanent thing as the house can be on fire any time. This bothered me because if we can’t hold onto anything at all, then what’s the point of possessing anything? Maybe I should just rent houses in the future. The fact that we can’t possess anything permanent also relates to how success and failure must keep following each other in a cycle (Inouye 50). Just like in The Tale of the Heike, Kiyomori’s success is fated. Though he had been a formidable figure, he eventually suffered from a disease that left him burning hot and could only speak in “a painful whisper” near the end of his death (Tale of the Heike 211). The evanescence of success is a scary thought because you know failure will ensue anytime.  However, success and failure are both social constructs based on societal standards. As Chōmei puts it, “if you conform to the world, it will bind you hand and foot” (Chōmei 58). Shukke then seems to be an appealing idea because when leaving the world behind you, you also leave the societal standards behind. Hence, success and failure will be based on personal standards, which is more beneficial because accomplishing or failing your own set goal is much rewarding than failing the society’s expectation. I find this, however, hard to do nowadays especially with the constant comparisons and competitions.

This entry was posted in Week 3: Failure, Success, and Leaving the World. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Evanescence of Success

  1. Man, I could learn a thing or two from you concerning the paragraphs. Yours is funny, interesting, and it gets really specific when quoting the readings.

    Also, nice burning house. It’s kind of creepy.

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