Liquid earth, heart of zen.

Another morning, another quake. As usual, the BSI building first sighed, then started to go “snap, crackle and pop” and swayed for a longish time after the actual 6.0 stopped – nothing much. Whereas, in Niigata, another building went down when the ground beneath it lost its solidity. Incredible powers working, like huge sandworms of the Dune travelling hundreds of meters a second, or the ground becoming liquid and waving in response to some giant monster moving its tail underground…
I must say, I am impressed by the attitude of these people to natural disasters. I read of a public bath in Niigata whose customers all ran outside dressed up in their towels (now I understand why you are supposed to take a small towel with you to the bath and keep it folded up on your head while taking the bath – this way you’ll never have to evacuate with your private parts exposed) except for some old woman who stayed in the bath, refusing to give up the relaxing moment. I read of a 72-year-old-man who, while digging up his car from under his house with a sorkkarauta, just said that oh, wife broke a few ribs but she’ll be OK. I see on TV thousands of evacuated people, quitely spending their time outside or in emergency shelters, warming up with fires and queueing for bottled water. No panic, no crying children, no shouting men. I don’t know but I’m quite certain that there is no looting, either.
I guess that living on an island like this, where there’s no reason for building sturdy houses since you will less regret the disappearance of a house made of paper – a certain peace and calm of mind is bound to be advantageous for survival – no wonder Japan could be considered as the heart of zen.
Maybe that’s what makes me like this place so much: the vague, ambient but controversial feeling that attaching to the material possessions is pointless.

4 thoughts on “Liquid earth, heart of zen.

  1. I agree, it is amazing how Japanese people have adapted to the forces of nature. The guys at one laboratory were even enjoying an earthquake, shouting: Sugoi! (Though I am not sure whether they were being brave or just plain stupid…) But it is admirable. One thing I haven’t figured out though how buying Chanel or Louis Vuitton bags go with everything being so uncertain, but they have managed to integrate a lot of things, so why not… We used to know this zen munk who was the head of a monastery. He has an unbelievably expensive car, and I was told that he is also married (which apparently is ok too). But at the same time he has this very uncomfortable looking steel net thing underneath his clothes, so there is some kind of suffering scheme going on too.

  2. Just maybe… they’ve realised that not only the material posessions are just temporary illusions but so is also the figures on your bank account book – thus, better just to dispense with the money and buy something useless. Useless things are less missed when lost than the useful ones, right?

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