2 Chen Zachary

2 Chen Zachary

I was walking through a cemetery on my way home

These trees

Will bloom again in Spring.

The rows of stone.


The three fundamental Buddhist notions of “Anitya”, “Dukha”, and “Anatman” have given me a lot of thought. In class we discussed whether or not we believed the notion of dukha, that life is suffering (Inouye Lecture 1/30/14). It was a bit of an oddity for me to think about. Certainly, while not easy by any means, my life is pretty good right now. However, millions and millions of people have it bad. Starvation, diseases, war, terrorism, genocide, abandonment, corruption, imprisonment, forced indoctrination, abuse of power, the list goes on and on. Steven Erikson, a fantasy writer and anthropologist-archaeologist wrote, “Children are dying. The injustices the world hide in those three words.” I doubt I’ll come to any easy conclusion about dukha, which is the one affecting me the most. To accept these Buddhist notions is to “become more accepting and appreciative of simplicity” (Inouye 32). When I was pondering my poem, I struggled through that whole idea, as English classes before have taught, that things should have metaphors, hidden meanings, strong adjectives, and so on. Once I managed to get those out of my head, to get everything simple, it sort of clicked.



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2 Responses to 2 Chen Zachary

  1. Zach-

    I really enjoyed the “moment” your poem induced in me. I often walk in a cemetery nearby in Arlington and feel an interesting tension between ephemerality (life passing, seasons changing) and the eerie “frozen” timelessness tied up with death and the unmoving stone markers. Your poem conveys this experience elegantly and effortlessly!

  2. Karen Lee says:

    I think “life is suffering” does not pertain to just physical or mental suffering, as one would experience in a place of constant war or terrorism. I think certainly even us here at Tufts, who live comfortably off, can find within ourselves a realm of dukha. It is the act of having attachments to this “cicada-shell” world that causes suffering on the spiritual level.

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