3 Traitz Lauren

Wk 3 Picture


This week’s discussion regarding shukke or “leaving the house” made me think deeply about if I possess the drive to depart, to disconnect from those conditional features – school, family, money, politics ­­– which seem so constricting and yet, so defining. This is a traditionally Buddhist practice in which, as Professor Inouye describes in his book, “you could shave your head, don simple robes, and make vows to live differently, even ascetically, within a community of Buddhist believers or, in some cases, in relative isolation” (Inouye, 40). Nonetheless, I do not think the desire to leave behind our weighty engagements is particular to Buddhism. Indeed, I feel a strong desire to depart, to reconnect with the Earth, to re-learn myself (or whatever is left behind) for motivations other than morality. In Hojoki, Kamo-no-Chomei fulfills shukke after witnessing the evanescence of life in the form of natural catastrophe and political instability. He seems jaded with societal life when he asks himself: “where should we live?/And how?//Where to find/a place to rest a while?” (Chomei, 58). I can relate to the sensation of restlessness when surrounded by man-made constructs. When I have not been in a natural setting for some time, the relief at returning (when going on a hike, for example) is immense. After easing in to the natural surroundings, suddenly I am not a student, a daughter, a girlfriend, an American, an employee–I just am. Thus I must agree with Chomei when he elegantly writes: “A place of beauty/has no owner./So there is nothing/to spoil the pleasure” (Chomei, 67). The problem with the pull to retreat, to reacquaint with the evanescent, inconstant self, is that I also possess a drive to remain, to work to provide this liberation to others, socially and spiritually. In a sense it feels like my duty. So I can also relate to Chomei’s final doubts when addressing himself: “But though you appear/to be a monk/your heart is soaked in sin” (Chomei, 77).

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