Shigenobu Hanako 3

Shigenobu Hanako 3

On a snowy Monday afternoon, I ran by a small wooded area composed of what looked like pine trees on a side street about two miles from campus.

Snow flurries falling
Piling atop
A small forest

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Our class’s discussion on “checking out” resonated with me. After witnessing massive amounts of tragedy in Kyoto, Chomei displaces himself from society to avoid hearing or experiencing additional suffering. The introduction describes the logic of this displacement from society: “such a world, with its dislocations and general sense of discontinuity, one might be happy to leave” (Hojoki, 24). This eludes to shukke–if life is bad, why stick around? Why not “check out”? It is easy for the writer of the introduction to prescribe discontinuity as the reason for unhappiness because as we have learned, evanescence is everywhere and therefore can be the reason for any emotion. I find it frustrating that Chomei is inconsistent when discussing peace and absence of pain. He describes peace as “short-lived” and even then it is impossible to find because “never, never can he find peace” (ibid, 55). Because of this, self prescribing this transcendentalist-like lifestyle to relieve oneself from suffering seems counterproductive according to Buddhism because suffering is unavoidable. However, at the end of Hojoki he contradicts this argument by saying, “reality depends upon your mind alone. If your mind is not at peace what use are riches?” (75). Based on his experiences it seems that the only way to find peace of mind is to become a recluse and be invincible to the tragedies of society. However, even after completely “checking out” it appears he is faced with suffering in the form of loneliness. This is evident from the rich description of his interactions with the 10-year-old and his longing for company as he looks out the window at the moon. He is searching for peace in a world where it does not exist. This indicates that completely “checking out” does not offer the desired effect because although society is akin to pain, it also is accompanied by positive emotions that are a result of comfort and company from other humans, which cannot be found in the beauty of the moon alone.

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