3 Daniel Samuel

On a cold morning, I was walking outside, thinking deep thoughts, and I let out a prolonged sigh.

A white cloud forms
From a deep breath.
The cold obscures the world.

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The entire concept of the “burning house” is slightly disturbing to me. At first glance, the maxim “you are not your house” is easy to digest and falls perfectly in line with the contemporary counter-culture rallying cries that all tend to follow from this memorable rant from “Fight Club”: “You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.” “The house of this world is on fire” is a rather “Fight Club”-esque thought as well. (Inouye, 45) It seems to be a critique of any kind of power structure or other institution that tries to control the world and its people. It says that no matter how hard someone may try to control the world, every “house” will eventually burn down. On a more individual level, the idea of living in a burning house, refusing to see the flames that are rapidly engulfing it, raises some rather existential questions. As a senior college, I feel like I’ve really started to build my own house in the world. But it is a path fraught with difficulties. And as I watch my peers struggle with the same things, this quote truly rings home: “The problem for us is that, whether working until exhaustion or endlessly distracting ourselves before pixels, whether giving ourselves to gluttony or starving ourselves to be slender, we hardly notice the heat and flames closing in around us.” (Inouye, 45) It is rather depressing to realize that your house can catch fire even while you’re still building it! And then I feel like I’ve hit my head on the hard concrete floor of the reflection pool. As Chōmei asked, “Has your discerning mind done anything more/Than drive you mad?” (44). It seems as if the very attempt to create, define, describe, and live in a house is an entirely self-defeating process. Acknowledging the house is the same as lighting the fire yourself.

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One Response to 3 Daniel Samuel

  1. I liked your discussion of the burning house image as it relates to the lives we build. It made me wonder just how much of our lives you (or maybe Chomei, or Inouye, or Buddha) would consider to be our house. Are the relationships you form on fire? Is your desire to reach enlightenment on fire? Is your practice of Haiku on fire?

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