When do you feel at peace the most?
For me it is when I travel by train or any other means of transport. When I look out of the window and I see the the landscape change so rapidly in front of my eyes, it takes my mind far away. I become as if just an observer, rather than a participant of this life, which during these moments seems as a dream; and like all dreams, it is a temporary reality. Then the feeling that there is something greater, something beyond that permeates through everything is right there; it’s nature is permanent unlike everything what we see with our eyes. However, as soon as you step on the firm ground again, you are back to life, back to reality, involved in all the turmoil of it and the weight of it is ready to collapse on your mind once again.
So I like to call this world a floating one. When I was in Japan, I have realised they used to call it ‘floating’ as well.
Ukiyo-e “pictures of the floating world”.
No other nation in the world has managed to depict the impermanence and ephemeral nature of the world around us as well as the Japanese.
Although this style flourished in Japan in the 17th century and was focused on portraying the hedonistic lifestyle attributed to the Japanese during the Edo period, the term ukiyo is a homophone for a Buddhist term “Sorrowful World“. Nevertheless, I believe that there is no contradiction in that at all. The reason why Buddhists refer to this world as a sorrowful one lies in the karmic cycle of death and rebirth, which we are trying to break lifetime after lifetime. People suffer in this life without the spiritual guidance and when one’s life is not filled with purpose, it seems that the world just floats by meaninglessly. The same way pleasures and beautiful things come in our lives, the same way they go or deteriorate with the passage of time. But that’s just natural and we have to learn to accept this. However sad it might be, that is not the real sorrow of human life. The real sorrow is in human spirit seeking liberation and fulfilment and not being able to find it.