3 Le Hoang Yen

I was stepping on deep snow that covered President’s Lawn on Snow Day.


Snowy hills,

Crunching sound from each step;

Sinking to my knee.



This week’s lecture and readings focused on developing and expanding the three Buddhist notions introduced to us in the previous lecture. The image of “the house is on fire” serves as the most significant link between impermanence, selflessness and troubling life, a metaphor that summarizes those essential Buddhist beliefs. I found the tales about Kamo-no-Chomei and Kiyomori very contrasting, yet both explored the metaphor above. Witnessing the chaotically evanescent Kyoto where “great houses fade away” (Chomei 32), Chomei leaves for more peaceful mountains to search for simplicity in life. Through his act, he emphasizes the Buddhist idea of “shukke, or ‘leaving home’.”(Inouye 40) He realizes that attachment to his house would only bring about troubling consequences and thus he chooses to appreciate evanescence and escape the delusion of permanence. He understands that there’s no self in this evanescent world as he compares man to “foam.” However, Kiyomori believes in the opposite. He becomes deluded due to his belief in holding endless power to the point where he never notices that his house has always been on fire. “He is driven by wrath, hubris, and greed” (Inouye 48), which cause him to disrespect formality. His arrogance results in self-destruction where “the pull of evanescence claims everyone – good or bad, justified or not…” (Inouye 49)  Instead of embracing evanescence like Chomei does, Kiyomori brutally suffers from its consequences.


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One Response to 3 Le Hoang Yen

  1. Profile photo of Karen  Chan Karen Chan says:

    Hi Kristy,

    I completely agree that Kamo no Chomei and Kiyomori contrast each other in beliefs. One accepts the reality of the burning house and that life is evanescent, while the other wants to sustain all the luxuries that he had in his lifetime. By leaving the burning house, Chomei was able to find peace, while Kiyomori suffers before his death. This suffering is likely even continued after his death by his family. The contrast between them also emphasizes the notion that failure leads to success and vice versa. Nothing lasts, just as failure or success are both not permanent states. One must be prepared to embrace both of them.

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