Dreams, memories, the sacred – they are all alike in that they are beyond our grasp. Once we are even marginally separated from what we can touch, the object is sanctified; it acquires the beauty of the unattainable, the quality of the miraculous. Everything, really, has this quality of sacredness, but we can desecrate it at a touch. How strange man is! His touch defiles and yet he contains the source of miracles.
- Excerpt from: Spring Snow, by Yukio Mishima
“The average age for a man in the Bronze Age was eighteen. In the Roman era, twenty-two. Heaven must have been beautiful then. Today it must look dreadful. When a man reaches forty, he has no chance to die beautifully. No matter how he tries, he will die of decay. He must compel himself to live.”
- From: A Life In Four Chapters, by Yukio Mishima
The Meaning and Context of Zen
We know the kind of interest Zen has evoked even outside specialized disciplines, since being popularized in the west by D.T. Suzuki through his books Introduction to Zen Buddhism and Essays in Zen Buddhism. This popular interest is due to the paradoxical encounter between East and West. The ailing West perceives that Zen has something “existential” and surrealistic to offer. Zen’s notion of a spiritual realization, free from any faith and any bond, not to mention the mirage of an instantaneous and somehow gratuitous “spiritual breakthrough”, has exercised a fascinating attraction on many Westerners. However, this is true, for the most part, only superficially. There is a considerable difference between the spiritual dimension of the “philosophy of crisis”, which has become popular in the West as a consequence of its materialistic and nihilist development, and the spiritual dimension of Zen, which has been rooted in the spirituality of the Buddhist tradition. Any true encounter between Zen and the West, presupposes, in a Westerner, either an exceptional predisposition, or the capability to operate a metanoia. By metanoia I mean an inner turnabout, affecting not so much one’s intellectual “attitudes”, but rather a dimension which in every time and in every place has been conceived as a deeper reality.
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Uyoku Rōnin Dō
Military-style vans circulate through the streets of major Japanese cities. Drivers in uniforms blare slogans via loudspeakers bolted to the vans’ roofs. These are the Japanese right-wingers, or uyoku radical right-wing activists, who routinely demonstrate in front of foreign embassies and government buildings, and who can also be seen protesting in smaller towns. While the leftist Japan Teachers’ Union, or Nikkyōso, holds assemblies in local town halls, uyoku activists organize demonstrations in front of city halls and shout slogans. Furthermore, some of them may demand to meet with members of the mass media who make what the uyoku deem to be ‘inappropriate’ remarks, and they then insist on retractions and apologies for these remarks. In December 2000, journalist and academic David McNeill experienced this pressure from a group of uyoku activists after he mentioned the Nanking massacre on a Japanese radio program (McNeill 2001). He was shocked to learn that the radio station gave in to the group’s demand and asked him to apologize on the next show. The station’s director explained that radical violence directed at the station was unlikely, but it could not be ruled out. The director’s concern was legitimate. There have in fact been sporadic violent incidents attributed to the uyoku. In August 2006, senior Liberal Democratic Party politician Katō Kōichi was targeted by an uyoku radical. After confirming that the home of Katō’s parents was empty, the radical burnt it down and used a sword to stab himself in the stomach at the scene (Noda 2007). The failed Molotov cocktail attack on the residence of Kobayashi Yōtarō, president of Fuji Xerox, in January 2005, by an unidentified perpetrator was followed by anonymous threats. This incident was also suspected to be the work of the uyoku.
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Taken from, “Runaway Horses”
“The law is an accumulation of tireless attempts to block a man’s desire to change life into an instant of poetry. Certainly it would not be right to let everybody exchange his life for a line of poetry written in a splash of blood. But the mass of men, lacking valor, pass away their lives without ever feeling the least touch of such a desire. The law, therefore, of its very nature is aimed at a tiny minority of mankind.”