4 Wong William

4 Wong William

While I was sitting in Chinese class, I looked out the window toward the academic quad.

People walking

White on the ground

I stare at the chalkboard


In this week’s lectures, we discussed the aspect of nothingness and how this contrasted with the Japanese concept of kata (structure). Kata in the Japanese culture represents many different meanings such as “model, pattern, prototype or that which distinguishes one tradition or school from another” (Inouye 65). However, it seems to always contrast with evanescence. Evanescence, in the Japanese culture, is always believed to be never stopping and always free flowing. So, when Professor Inouye discusses how the Japanese believe in nothingness yet they have such a rigid form to their culture, it baffled me. It just didn’t make sense to me when he explained it. How could a culture that so values form and structure believe in mu or nothingness?” (Inouye Lecture). However, after reading Thomas Merton’s book, he defines nothingness as “the zero [he] speak[s] of is not a mathematical symbol. It is the infinite—a storehouse or womb (Garbha) of all possible good or values” (Merton 107). Basically, nothing is everything and everything is nothing. When people approach a new situation with no preconceived notions or emotions, they are better able to take everything in around them. While I haven’t completely accepted this belief of nothingness, I’ve come to believe that to achieve nothingness, one must all your empty brain to be filled with the world around you. You are at a vulnerable state which allows outside influence and for you to fully accept people and the natural world.

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2 Responses to 4 Wong William

  1. Jiabin Zhang says:

    I like your poem because of the connection between “white” on the ground and “white” on the chalkboard. Your drawing has room for improvement. The beauty of the mask lies in the fact that it shows happiness and sadness simultaneously. Your essay shows that you really grasp the idea of nothingness pretty well. As you said, this idea of coexistence of evanescence and form seems counter intuitive at first. But nothingness would help us understand the “paradox” which is the key to our understanding of Japanese culture because it is the existence of form in the middle of chaos that makes Japan Japan.

  2. Tommy To says:

    Quote from Thomase Merton really strengthened your points!

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