Tsuyu no yo wa tsuyu no yo nagara sari nagara
"The world of dew --
A world of dew it is indeed,
And yet, and yet . . ."
- Kobayashi Issa
Despite our intentions, it appears that as we grow more attached to technological communication modes, we might be disconnecting from the natural human contact experience. Despite this disconnection, there are still times that may remind you that we are actually sharing a rather collective experience here. We just have to pause and ask around.
Since Labor Day, my collection of “stumbling” stories during the current Fall frenzy have paralleled to similar stories shared with me by friends, students, and colleagues. It seems that we are all experiencing a general level of frustration with being unable to control our environments. Sometimes our environments deliver minor irritations and, at other times, great loss and suffering.
You can imagine my surprise when I opened the Sunday Review section of the New York Times yesterday morning to find Pico Iyer’s The Value of Suffering. Was my inner circle tuning into a vibe that involved a much wider audience? The author demonstrated the collective experience of suffering and then offered a set of inquiries for contextualizing it. Are we all capable of experiencing a greater awareness of the delicate yet crucial role of suffering in our lives?
For our Monday Mantra inspiration, I selected the poem above. Iyer references Japanese poet, Issa (his name means cup-of-tea), as a source and his sentiment has continued to resonate with me since the initial morning read. Issa’s words are memorable, simple, and speak to how we position ourselves when faced with suffering in our uncontrollable environments. It should be noted that Issa wrote these words as he endured a series of untimely deaths in his family.
The lesson Issa offers to us when faced with suffering is to recognize impermanence as a companion. Even the choice of dew, quickly dissolving, speaks to depending on another moment being ready to replace the last. We can count on it. And while “the world of dew” indicates a condition of circumstances that cannot be captured, held, or controlled, the poet says “and yet, and yet…” indicating that it is still worthwhile to go on. There is value to living and we should proceed even when it is difficult. Life has value in all moments, ones of triumph and ones of suffering.
As we approach a new season, the transition time can be tumultuous. As temperatures, light, and nature make adjustments, we too must participate in this transition. There may be more challenges in doing our personal “work” but on a larger scale, there may be a particular suffering or loss we are enduring. We may find a lower degree of support from our changing surroundings so the “stumblings” are more disruptive than usual. Certainly, our worldview and daily news present us with even grander themes of suffering that we can always connect to in all corners of the earth.
Our collective experience of witnessing suffering and calling upon impermanence as a companion can unite us in our human experience. Knowing we are not alone in this approach makes it easier to go forward no matter what we meet along the way.
“And yet, and yet…”