HAIKU: Last night, I was riding the Red Line into Boston and was pulling into the Charles/MGH station.
IMAGE: Word golden Buddha face
PARAGRAPH: On Evanescence and Form (pp. 26-39), “Nara Buddhism”, and As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams
There is a passage from Evanescence and Form that struck me so intensely, it completely changed my perspective on life. Though too long to quote here, a key line from the passage summarizes that “[w]e live because the world makes us respond continuously, spontaneously, and emotionally to change” (Inouye, 35). I’ve always instinctively sensed that the Japanese had a more passive acceptance of life and reality as opposed to the more active manipulation encouraged by Western cultures. I sensed the passivity but I always felt frustrated because I couldn’t understand it, and desperately wanted to. And finally, this passage illuminated that for me: The Japanese accept the futility of trying to exert any sort of control on a mercurial, inconstant reality – on a mujouna, hakanai world – so instead, they “do not live” but rather, by allowing reality to influence them, to move them, “are made to live” (Inouye, 35). There is something incredibly freeing in letting go of always trying to affect the world, and instead, letting the world affect me for once. And by extension of letting go, I’m also letting go of my rigid definition of my ‘self’; if there is no self, there is no desire to make the world revolve around it. As the Vimalakirti Sutra says, the body “is empty when freed from the false idea of me and mine” (“Nara Buddhism”, 102). By letting go of ‘self,’ I become an empty vessel for potentiality, for “commonality” as explicated on the bottom of page 38 in Evanescence and Form. Thus, instead of despairing over all the poems in As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams and stressing out over analyzing each of their meanings, I could simply enjoy the myriad emotions, thoughts, and memories they evoked in me. These concepts also help me understand the principles underlying the haiku – by making the poem as ‘empty’ of words as possible, by not giving the poem a ‘self’ by overly describing everything, the poem thus invites potentiality. The haiku is a microcosm of me, who is in turn a microcosm of reality.