4 Miller Samuel

4 Miller Samuel

Walking home from a rehearsal at night, I noticed someone had dropped a cigarette without putting it out.

A lit cigarette

on the ground

A light in the dark


I was a bit confused during our conversation in class about nothingness and the Noh plays. If everything is nothing, then why is there such an emphasis on form? We talked about the fact that Atsumori is killed as a matter of honor. The death was tragic because his killer is plagued by his decision. It is the form of the matter which forces Kumagai to kill Atsumori.  We discussed that the Noh plays may have offered comfort to Samurai because they bridged the gap of life and death.  Atsumori’s remark, “ But Truly a generation passes like the space of a dream, the leaves of the autumn of Juyei” (Seami, 70) reflects on ideas of evanescence and impermanence, while is observation that Kumagai “Has obtained salvation for his foe” (Seami, 73) provides comfort that they can be redeemed for their killing. It’s interesting to think that there exists a culture that adheres very closely to a rigid form that also includes a blurred vision of life and death. In a culture that seems to have very rigid rules about right and wrong, it seems strange to me to see life and death as so fluid. If everything is nothing, nothing is everywhere, and there is no self, how can one continue to have an identity after death? I suppose Thomas Merton nicely sums up my confusion when he discusses the use of symbols and language in Christianity. He writes, “Zen on the other hand resolutely resists any temptation to be easily communicable…” (Merton, 46) Merton says that Zen seeks to destroy any notion that reality can be readily explained in favor of defining reality based on experience and observation.

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