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Murmured ConversationsA Treatise on Poetry and Buddhism by the Poet-Monk Shinkei$
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Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780804748636

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804748636.001.0001

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Poetry is an Existential Discipline

Poetry is an Existential Discipline

(p.66) Twenty Poetry is an Existential Discipline
Murmured Conversations
Stanford University Press

This chapter is often cited as evidence that Shinkei identified the Way of Poetry with the Way of Buddhism, but Kidō rejects this notion because the two activities differ in terms of aims. While the aim of Buddhism is to “discover the ultimate source of the mind” (kokoro no minamoto o akiramemu), that of Poetry is to “gain insight into the deeply moving power of things” (aware fukaki koto o satoran). That is to say, Poetry apparently seeks to move human beings to the consciousness of the tragic character of mundane existence, whereas Buddhism wants to uncover the truth that lies beyond the tragedy of mundane existence. The distinction between Buddhism and Poetry that Kidō mentions is largely valid for Sasamegoto I but not for Sasamegoto II. Ultimately, the religious justification for poetry that can be found in the works of Teika, Shunzei, Saigyō, and Shinkei himself is based on nondualism and grounds the medieval Japanese sense of praxis (michi, the Way).

Keywords:   Japanese poetry, Shinkei, Kidō, Way of Poetry, Way of Buddhism, mundane existence, Sasamegoto, nondualism, praxis, michi

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