4 Ohara Anna

Early Sunday afternoon, I walked with friends to Castle Rock in South Boston in the freezing cold.

Ocean wind against

The castle stones

In lilac Sunset



I was baptized at age 6 in order to attend a catholic school, while being raised in a culturally Japanese household. Multiple belief systems (and in that way, perhaps no belief systems) were permitted; the opulent, ceremonial Catholicism existed alongside somewhat-strict insistence on what I now know to call kata. Thomas Merton introduces some commonalities between Christianity and Buddhism, including “their view of man’s present condition,” his not being in his “right relation to the world and to things in it” (82, Merton).  What I now recognize is that the hyper potency of Buddhism (specifically zen), taps directly into my familiarity with kata. Zen Buddhism itself demonstrates mu, where the lack of elaborate scripture, for example, leaves room for individualized realization, enlightenment, and integrated spirituality. When combined with kata—a rigidity that ultimately makes room for the individual, a “counterbalance to evanescence” (65 Inouye)—I feel how mu’s goal to “create emptiness in a way that is radically receptive” (68 Inouye) functions in the Japanese mind. Every morning I spend fifteen minutes making myself a cup of coffee, with delicate instruments and a relatively complex process; each morning I strive towards a ‘rightness,’ my mind empty.

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One Response to 4 Ohara Anna

  1. Hi Anna,

    Great poem and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your response, especially the aspect of your response in which your own life experiences relate to what we are learning in class given your own cultural identity with the Japanese Culture. Thank you for sharing…

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