3 Tommy To

Walking back home from Tisch at midnight, I saw half a snowman.

In moonlight,

Half a snowman



If my house was burning, I’d put the fire out. The Lotus Sutra provides an interesting analogy to our mortal, Buddhist pre-Enlightened lives. Buddhism would teach that living life in this evanescent world is dangerous without realizing its illusions. To measure our successes by our wealth and seemingly significant gains in our life, is also dangerous. We’ll burn in sorrow within our “house”, trapped in our success, ignorant to the true happiness that lies outside of our reach. It is wrong to search for security and permanence by attaching ourselves to illusions of this samsara, this “floating world”, as its evanescence is its illusion to our sure misery (Inouye, 40). Well, I found myself disagreeing. I enjoy my mortal life, my house. If it burns, I’ll put it out, or build a new one. My successes are my own, as well as my failures. I enjoy the little things in life, the big things. In this evanescent world, we have to find meaning and strength within our lives. I don’t believe shukke, or the leaving of home, and a life of complete simplicity is the ultimate answer (Inouye, 40). Life is complicated and tumultuous, attachments can be dangerous, but that cannot mean that true happiness cannot be found within its folds. There is true happiness in a wooden hut, but there is also true happiness in a large, well-built home. While I shy away from duhka and anatman, I found myself agreeing with the notion of karma. It is an interesting theme that shows itself in The Tale of Heike. “It was all the fault of the Chancellor-Novice Kiyomori, the man who had held the whole country in the palm of his hand and executed and banished as he pleased” (The Tale of Heike). Kiyomori’s son advised his father to obey the Retired Emperor and to treat people with consideration (The Tale of Heike). Indeed, his son was reminding his father of propriety and tact. The countering forces of evanescence was the permanence of the Buddhist-taught karma. The balancing forces of moral behavior will often require success and failure to result from the acts of good and evil. In my understanding, karma is not the absolute law of the universe, but rather, the law of human nature. If you’re a scumbag, you get treated like a scumbag. In this case, Kiyomori was almost certainly a scumbag. He was in the end, crushed by evanescence, without the countering forces of karma working in his favor (Inouye, 48). And so, I see life in all its complications and dangers, intertwine with the notions of evanescence and karma. There will always be successes and failures in life, perhaps deservedly so because of its many complications. But to commit shukke would be wrong. I believe that no matter how many times I fail, it is only fair to assume and to hope, that my successes can only be equally so, if not more, so long as I play the cards of karma and the Laws of Probability right.



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