Here and now

Smoking under a tree when it was raining, in the afternoon.

A tall tree-

Droplets of rain

In the wind


(No picture assigned for this week).


We focused mainly on Bashō and his poetry this week. I found the idea of “the eternal unchanging and the momentary ever-changing” (Inouye, 75) being the “source of one and the same” (Inouye, 75), very powerful, because it resonates with something I have already heard and experienced; Alan Watts said “the fundamental, ultimate mystery…is this: that for every outside, there is an inside, and for every inside there is an outside, and although they are different, they go together.” This completely ties in with the idea of the eternal and fleetingness of things, with the polarity of evanescence and form. Both are a fundamental part of ‘being’, and complement each other.  Even though Bashō “desire[d] to establish his identity by aligning himself with what he held to be a lasting reality about truth,” (Inouye, 77) I feel that he knew of the need to connect with the ‘other’, or that which is not the ‘self’. This is seen not only through his poems, but through his teachings, where he remarked: “ As for the pine, learn from the pine; as for the bamboo, learn from the bamboo.” (Inouye, 76). By saying this, he meant, “to cast aside personal desire or intention (shii). Those who interpret this “learning” in their own way never learn anything.” (Inouye, 76). The need is therefore to clear to the mind, to attempt to be at harmony, to be one with your surroundings. Admittedly, this is not the easiest thing to do when one comes from one of the biggest cities in Latin America, an endless sprawl of buildings. However, intent on my goal, I manage to blur out the sound of cars, the smell of fumes, and harmonize myself with the nature that surrounds me. Here too, there is a desire by myself  to get rid of the self and attempt to align with all around me; the true master would not need to go through this process, for he would be in a constant state of it. This is reinforced by the idea of the “power of the place” (Inouye, 78), where there is a “Shinto, animist belief in a spiritual presence to every location” (Inouye, 78). Personally, I think we are the only species that is out of sync with everything. Animals just live in their environment, and that’s it. We delude ourselves with destroying a perfectly beautiful patch of nature to make another dirty settlement. One of the most damaging and mistaken ideas I have ever heard of is Descartes’ “Conquest of nature”, implying that we are completely interrelated. Again, borrowing from Alan Watts, “you cannot describe a person walking unless you start describing the floor… I move in relation to the room…Your skin does not separate you from the world; it’s a bridge through which the external world flows into you, and you flow into it.” We are of nature, therefore we also make up nature. To attempt to destroy or conquer it will bring no joy. I fear the more modern and “advanced” we get, the less connection we will be able to have with what is around us, the less presence we will feel. I feel we are alienating ourselves, losing that link to reality. Every place is indeed mystical and although I don’t believe in a physical, god presence in every place, I do feel a holy presence towards natural things, things that grow and give life, much more than I do inside any holy building. Although Bashō lived in a time that was radically different than mine, I feel like he had this same feeling towards the ignorance of man towards what is around us; “The chestnut by the eaves, In magnificent bloom, Passes unnoticed, By men of this world” (Bashō, 108). There is extreme beauty in this poem, yet for me it is the sadness in it that makes it stand out; that we can blind ourselves to the extent that we fail so see life.

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