On my porch, I noticed an icicle hanging from the ledge at various times in the day.
Melting in the sun –
This week’s reading again focused on impermanence. In both stories, the narrators witness swaths of destruction and death, a seemingly incessant line of calamities striking the Japanese people. What is more interesting, then, is the relationship between selfishness, enlightenment, and karma. In Hojoki, the narrator shrivels away from civilization, his “best intentions foiled/ [he] came to understand/ [his] hopeless luck” (Hojoki, 60). And thus he tries to follow the Buddha towards enlightenment, but instead still finds attachment “to the quiet and serene/ must likewise be a burden” (76). Similarly, the selfishness of Kiyomori in The Tale of the Heike burdens him with the evil of his actions. So much so, that his “deeds come home to roost” and cause his death (Heike, 209). He considers power to be his enlightenment, and so he strives for it ruthlessly until karma brings back his actions against him. In Hojoki, the narrator strives for the peaceful kind of enlightenment, but still feels a burden of sin. Here, karma chastises him for not reacting enough to the world around him, instead just shrinking away from the pain. Both paths, one with evil intentions and one with good, still provide similar results. Why? It must be, therefore, that not all actions can focus on material worth, but neither can actions focus on shunning all material. I believe, then, that there must be a strong balance between selfishness and compassion. One cannot dismiss civilization, but it should not be trampled over either. Death comes vengefully either way.