While seated at the gate for my flight, I observed a group of little children nearby.
Brothers and sisters
Prance and stumble
The first thing that was stressed in these first lectures is the underlying tension that lies between the two ethereal systems of Japanese culture, evanescence and form. The notion that nothing lasts yet everything still has an essential structure or nature is paradoxical. This tension is observed at its earliest with the introduction of Confucianism and Buddhism to Japan, where the ideals of Tao and Dharma forced their way into Japanese culture. “The adoption of Shinto nomenclature only magnified the inevitable tension between the indigenous Japanese way understanding of the meaning of life and the world…and the claims of Confucianism and Buddhism that their teaching were grounded in universal laws and principles.” (Kitagawa, 51). In lecture, we are taught that there are no symbols, and there are no permanent essences such as the ideals that are taught by these two religions. But I think that this introduction displays the most obvious interaction between evanescence and form. Each religion became so prevalent that it forced the use of Chinese characters shin and dō (51) in the Japanese language – the form of the religion here trumping the resistance to change that Japan displayed so early.