Misunderstanding Sorrow?

First, I saw no “draw this” on any slides… I’ll put up a picture after I know which to draw.

Also, there is no category to add this post in for week 6…

On the Monday of last week I came back from an optometrist’s appointment with contact lenses, after going for years nearsighted, and marveled at the truly dingy state of the Porter Square metro station.

Slime on walls

Empty benches

The janitor mops.

After weeks of talk on the lack of self, and the coming awareness of said self with Japan’s first steps to modernization, I was confused that poets such as Bashō would go on long epic journeys and appreciate their surroundings from their own perspective. However, when it is realized that he had previously tried Zen meditation, and was more focused on the blending of self with surroundings as his poetry would try, I understood the purpose of his journey. Dohō’s interpretation of this can be seen as follows, “’As for the pine, learn from the pine; as for the bamboo, learn from the bamboo,’ he meant to cast aside personal desire or intention” (Inouye 76). I also noticed in many of Bashō’s poems, there are two clashing forces, that of the impermanent and permanent. This should come as no real surprise, as it is a running theme in the course, however, one of the interesting aspects in the poems is the mourning I found over the impermanent. Bashō describes a ruined castle of Lord Yoshitsune, starting with the lines “A thicket of summer grass/ is all that remains” (Bashō 118). He becomes emotional, and weeps. He contrasts permanence with the fleeting often, whether castles and cicadas or tombstones and the cherry blossoms, and expresses sorrow over the fleeting, as above, or joy in the things that are permanent or repeating, like the sun shining through fresh leaves on Mt. Nikko (Bashō 100). I understand already that an appreciation of suchness as related to nothingness (see my last post for elaboration on this) leads to sorrow, followed by compassionate understanding of the universe (and a return to it), but I can’t help but feel a bit more conflicted on that subject compared to last week. Did that castle not have a place in history, and contribute to the world Bashō appreciates in some way? Did the graves of the warriors he mourned over accomplish nothing, and fade out of the world unknown? Of course not, so then, is their passing, is their end due to the forces of evanescence something to be sad about, when realizing they made up “suchness”?  I suppose I may still be ignorant on the concept of sorrow in relation to Zen.

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One Response to Misunderstanding Sorrow?

  1. Avatar of jsilva12 jsilva12 says:

    I really liked your haiku. I felt that it effectively showed how dingy it is in the subway. Not only in describing the scenery, but also mentioning the janitor that has to clean it furthers the gloom. What I found most interesting in your essay though, was your explanation of Bashō’s feelings towards his surroundings. It hadn’t occurred to me that he wept at impermanence, yet took joy in the permanent. I thought it was an interesting analysis that looking back on, I feel is true.

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