Looked up at the night sky when I left Wren to go to dinner.
There is a great deal of material to talk about this week. Merton talking about mystical experiences, particularly in saying that “The meaning of life is found in openness to ‘being present’ in full awareness” (Merton, 81), resonated with me. There really is no other way to live other than being aware of what is around you, and being open to it. By being open to things around you, you realize you are not a being in isolation in a hostile environment, but part of a greater universe. Moreover, I also believe that “Others [can] not do this for you…no religious authority present to endow this blessing” (Inouye, 59). One can read about this for a lifetime, but if he/she does not truly accept it, there will be no awareness of the world or experience of living, only knowledge of it. I also really enjoyed learning how “Zen Buddhism de-emphasized scholasticism and metaphysical speculation” (Inouye, 65), because I feel these are some of the greatest barriers that stand in the way of experiencing the world. What is the study of scripture but the revival of an experience? Why not attain your own experience instead of spending lifetime pouring over other peoples? Metaphysical speculation allows us to forgo this world, turning a blind eye to it and imaging some form of paradise. I feel like much of the suffering of the world stems from our rejection of it for some greater, utopian form of paradise after death. I think Saikaku understood this when he wrote: “ Soon my unmourned life, will vanish with the dew” (Saikaku, 172). Life is brief, and unless experience is obtained, there will have been no true living. If life is indeed so fragile so as to vanish with the dew, what is the use of such intense scholasticism and metaphysical speculation, which still abound in the world today? Teachings of those long gone, stories of great men, who were great precisely because they lived, they experienced the world for what it is.