Lately I’ve been wondering a lot about the direction I’ve taken in my life. Here I am living in a city (Tokyo) that, while safe and stimulating and quite airy and quiet compared to, let’s say New York, or Boston, or London, still strays about as far from the kind of environment that I thrive in as I could have chosen.
One of my women students told me the other day, with complete conviction, looking me straight in the eye, “All men are just foolish things.” Coming from a Japanese there is a certain cultural bent in the statement, inherent in the meaning of the Japanese version of the word “foolish” (ooroka) which carries the connotation of the Japanese desire for the ideal of humility, which I had to take into account as she said these words. I realized that she did not intend to insult or even criticize me, but still, it got me thinking.
I’ve been re-reading a book on Buddhist thought (“When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron) that focuses on turning towards one’s fears and despairs and allowing them to fill your thoughts as much as you revel in pleasure and joy. It is a powerful antidote to panic and hysteria, opening your mind to its own inner workings and helping you to step back from constant impulsive reaction.