The Bodhisattva Cycle

By Michael Chu

On Sunday morning, I was lying on bed and didn’t want to wake up until I heard the bird chirp.

Bird’s call—
From rest


According to Basho, the only way to perceive the unchanging and the ever-changing is through the sincerity of a refined heart (Inouye 74). Having written several haikus now, I understand the importance of the sincere heart because without truly feeling the moment, it is hard to write good poetry. It is with sincerity that Basho “felt as if [he] were in the presence of the ancients themselves…rejoiced in the utter happiness of this joyful moment, not without tears in [his] eyes” (Basho 113).  In my opinion, Basho’s overflow of emotions in The Narrow Road to the Deep North, is the result of him achieving compassion in the Bodhisattva cycle. Yet, his concreteness displayed in his poems such as in the line “Bush-clovers and the moon” (Basho 132) showed that he returned to the low, or “commonplace,” in Chōmei’s term (Inouye 79). The line demonstrates the idea of “awakening to the high and returning to the low” with the moon and the bush clovers representing the high and low respectively (Inouye 80). The more you pursue the truth, the more sorrow you get (Lecture 2/25). Then why pursue truth when it is hard to give others their own knowledge in truth after you have returned to the low? Why go through the unnecessary trouble of getting more sorrow when we can just enjoy ourselves every day? In reference to the mountain climbing analogy mentioned in class, perhaps the accomplishment of reaching the high and overcoming sorrow is even more gratifying than everyday happiness. Time to motivate myself even more and go through all the sorrow of homework.

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