Emptiness

Sarah Marakos

On a day when it was not freezing cold, I went for a jog and ran past this lake where a bird sat perched on a log and was still sitting there when I returned home.

A small lake—

A bird sits still and calm

As the wind rustles the trees.

At first I didn’t buy into the idea of nothingness, but when applied to an example regarding friendships, nothingness started to make sense. When I look around on campus, everyone is always walking to class and eating meals with the same crowd of friends. There are a few thousand students on this campus and chances are we will never meet most of them because we are too comfortable with the few friends we already have—our “something.” Without that something, we would be free to approach other students and meet some very interesting people who we would otherwise never give the time of day. This idea of nothingness is expressed in the Noh play Atsumori, when Atsumori and the Priest are sharing lines back and forth, breaking down barriers, getting back to nothing. “Once enemies…but now…in truth may we be named…friends in Buddha’s Law.” (Atsumori 69) Thomas Merton also talks about breaking down barriers that exist between us and other things to open our minds to these new things. “As long as we are inauthentic, as long as we block and obscure the presence of what truly is, we are in delusion and we are in pain,” (Merton 87). Thomas Merton explains here that if we don’t achieve nothing, we will always have desire to fulfill something, including the desire to achieve nothing. I think the idea of nothing is very important as it applies to the Noh Theater. “Noh’s emptiness is that quality of form that allows that possibility of all other forms to come to mind,” (Inouye 68). The Noh Theater also portrays the form we have discussed all semester. The Noh plays tended to have very little scenery or props, basically leaving the audience to nothing, and allowing them to open their minds without distraction to the skilled actors. I found it interesting that the Noh actors seem so basic yet convey so much to the audience. “We might say that only by mastery of the fundamentals does one progress to a more fluid state of creativity,” (Inouye 66). If there were no form and rules, no one would have the opportunity to stand out and be exceptional. There would be no great musicians or scholars. While I think complete nothingness is important in instances such as the Noh Theater to open yourself up to new things and emotions, I’m still not completely sold on the idea as applying to all circumstances. Why can’t I maintain the friendships I have now and still meet new people? While I think complete emptiness is important in some aspects, I think there might be a middle ground in other circumstances. Maybe if I am able to eventually have nothing, I will better understand its true value.

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One Response to Emptiness

  1. Avatar of Kaveh  Veyssi Kaveh Veyssi says:

    What caught my eye while I was looking through the posts was your poem. Without reading the description framing it, I saw what you saw. That much have been such a nice moment!!

    I really like the way you used the idea of nothingness to describe a lot of our relationships on campus and how people tend to find their friends and stick to them. I still like to believe that Tufts is a place where you can meet new people every day, whether it’s in a class or in your TDC group, it actually happens.

    I think the answer to your dilemma: “I’m still not completely sold on the idea as applying to all circumstances. Why can’t I maintain the friendships I have now and still meet new people?” is that you can AND you can still practice nothingness! I think that the idea of nothingness is just that you’re open to new friends, experiences, etc. and that you accept that your friends right now might not be your friends in a few years, or even a couple days or weeks. But I’ve been also battling with this idea of kicking the something out of my life and making way for more nothing, so I feel ya there!

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