1 Traitz Lauren

I was walking to class in the evening on a foggy day and had just reached the Academic Quad.

I emerge on top

of the hill covered in mist,

the heart of a cloud.

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From our initial exploration into Japanese culture, it is clear that immediacy is a significant part of how the Japanese understand and communicate their experience in the world. We see this in Kitagawa’s explanation of a poem from the Manyo (“When we look up …”), where he informs us that the poet is not musing on the ephemerality of existence, but rather expressing the actual experience of recognizing this fact to be true of the world he lives in (Kitagawa, 48). With the role of the perceiver as one of passive acceptance, it seems intuitive to me that both evanescence and form would easily emerge as central currents in Japanese culture, as they easily emerge in observing the natural world. As Kitagawa expounds, it is the sense of “mutual participation” with reality that allowed the Japanese to recognize a correlation between the “capriciousness” of life and the experience of witnessing the seasons change into each other (Kitagawa, 48). In Dōgen’s poem about the seasons, evanescence and form are both evidently given to us as part of nature (Inouye, 1). Thus at the level of direct experience, the seeming tension between evanescence and form (as concepts) melts away: both are equally present at the level of “mutual participation.”

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