Maplopo Presents:

Sakaguchi Ango

Wind, Light, and the Twenty-Year-Old Me

Sakaguchi Ango
Wind, Light, and the Twenty-Year-Old-Me (Abridged)

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Having been expelled from school and needing to repeat a grade, I was twenty years old when I graduated from high school. My old man died when I was eighteen, and after discovering all he left for us was debt, we moved into a row house. People around me said it would be nonsense for a person like me who hates studying to go to university. And, even though they weren’t really telling me not to go to university, it made sense. So, I decided to work instead. I became a substitute teacher.

By nature, I give myself license to do things at whim; with my natural disposition, it’s impossible for me to obey the orders of others. I had developed a taste for skipping classes ever since I was a kindergartener, and during my middle and high school years, I skipped at least half my classes. I would leave all my textbooks at my school desk, and when I went to school, carried nothing with me; it wasn’t like I went to movies or any other fun places while not attending school. In my middle school years, all I did was lie on the sand dune along the shore in my hometown, surrounded by pine trees, gazing idly at the ocean and the sky; in particular, I wasn’t reading novels or any other written materials. I was entirely squandering time—my fate throughout life. I was expelled from that countryside school and transferred to a school in Tokyo where there was a fair number of delinquent boys. Even there I remained king of absences, and rarely went to the movies or anywhere else; I could often be found lying in the cemetery behind the school, or nearby in the prisoners’ cemetery, a meadow of 990 square meters surrounded by trees that lay just beyond another graveyard, the Zōshigaya Cemetery.

After enrolling as a student at this school filled with delinquent boys, I developed a vague aspiration for religion. A person like me who cannot obey the orders of others may perhaps find significant pleasure in obeying his own restrictive commands. But, my yearning was fundamentally ambiguous, and I was feeling something like a nostalgia for the austerity of ascetic practice.

It might sound strange for a former delinquent unable to follow school rules to become an elementary school substitute teacher, but as an impressionable youngster I had hopes and aspirations common for that age; besides, I was much more mature back then than I am now. These days, I have become the sort of person who cannot adequately engage in even normal social interactions, but when young, I possessed moderation and manners, and putting on airs, I would speak with parents as if I were some kind of respected educator.

My place of work as a substitute was Setagaya, Shimokitazawa, which used to be named Ebara-gun, an utter wilderness like Musashino; after quitting my teaching post, Odakyū Electric Railway was constructed and opened to traffic, but when I was there the area was engulfed in bamboo groves. Located next to Setagaya Town Hall was the main school; the branch school where I worked had no more than three classrooms. In front of the school, there was a temple referred to as Awashima-sama, famous for moxibustion or something, and next to the school, there was a shop that sold school supplies, bread, and candies, but other than that, the surroundings were just an absolutely boundless expanse of fields; needless to say, there was no bus back then. I believe it might be around where Inoue Tomoichirō lives now, but so much has changed since then, and I can no longer place it. At the time, not even a farmhouse neighbored the school; the surrounding area was just an expanse of absolute wilderness, with hills extending in one direction populated by thickets of bamboo and fields of wheat, and there was a primeval forest too. They called it Mamoriyama Park, but it was far from being a park; it was just a primeval forest where I would often take children and let them play.

I taught fifth grade, the eldest group at the branch school, a total of about seventy boys and girls; I wouldn’t be surprised if those too much to handle were pushed from the main campus to the branch school. Of the seventy, about twenty could barely manage to write their names in katakana, but beyond that, they couldn’t write one simple konnichiwa. A good twenty of them. That group was always fighting in the classroom, and there was this one kid, who if he heard soldiers passing by singing a war song outside the building, would leap from the classroom window and go watch the soldiers. That kid was ferocious and abnormal. He was the child of a clam selling family. When cholera was prevalent and their clams could not be sold anymore, he said, “Hell, no! My clams cannot be beaten by damn cholera!” and ate the clams; each member of his family was infected with cholera. The kid would vomit white stuff that looked like rice soup on the way to school. His entire family narrowly escaped death, though.

Truly adorable kids exist among the ones that are considered bad. Children are all adorable, of course, but beautiful souls reside within the naughty ones. The naughty ones have warm hearts and an appreciation for the nostalgic. These kids should not be forced to study subjects which give them a headache; instead, we should nurture character traits that allow them to be warm-hearted and nostalgic—traits they can rely on to live strong. Having those principles, I did not care if they were not able to write words in hiragana or katakana. There was a milk house boy called Tanaka; he milked the cows both day and night, and delivered milk on his own. At some point in the past, he had apparently failed to advance to the next grade, so he was a year older than the other students in his class. When I first arrived at the school as a substitute, the head teacher told me to keep a particular eye on him because he was strong and bullied other children; true as that may have been, he was, however, a very nice kid. Whenever I visited his house asking if I could see him milk the cows, he came out jumping, overjoyed. Sometimes he did bully other children, but offered a hand with physically strenuous jobs such as cleaning up the ditches or carrying stuff, and did everything on his own without fooling around. He would beg adorably, “Teacher, I can’t write words, but please don’t scold me. Instead, I’ll do any sort of labor work.” I can’t comprehend why an adorable child like him is notoriously labeled as a bad student; under no circumstances should a child be reprimanded solely because he’s unable to write letters. It’s a child’s soul that matters most. It’s outrageous to flunk a student because the child cannot write.

I moved into a place on the second floor of a house owned by the branch school’s head teacher. It was located in Daitabashi, just over four kilometers from the school. Half the children attending the branch school walked roughly the same distance, though, so prior to arriving, about thirty students and I would end up walking together. Sometimes, I would be a bit behind, and there would be a student who would say things with a mischievous grin like: “Oh, it’s natural—you’re young. Where did you end up sleeping last night?” All these children helped with the farming once home from school, so even though they couldn’t write katakana, they were mature for their age.

As a side job, the head teacher had a teacher board with him. The prior border was another substitute teacher, a Mr. Nagaoka, who was later transferred to the main school. He was an avid reader of Russian literature and quite an oddball. He had a peculiar disease called frog epileptic seizure, and whenever he saw a frog he went into convulsions. A year before, when my class was in the fourth grade and taught by Mr. Nagaoka, one of the students hid a frog in his chalk box. Upon discovering this during class, Mr. Nagaoka apparently toppled over and foam began bubbling from his mouth; the milk house boy recounted this story to me and said, “At the time, I was so startled.” I thought perhaps it could have been him. I asked, “Wasn’t it you who did it?” He said, “No, not me—,” with a cute, meaningful smirk.

The head teacher was about sixty years old, but with unbounded energy; unusually short at 140 centimeters, but with a wide, muscular build, and although he was hiding it beneath his mustache, he had a harelip. He had a fiery temper and damned those around him left and right, perhaps a result of some underlying cowardice. He leaned especially hard on the janitor and students, but when it came to school board members or influential people in the village, he went right into brown-nosing them; whenever he lost his temper, he would push the responsibility of teaching class to the old teacher in charge of the first graders, venturing off instead to an influential person’s house to chit-chat over tea. Regardless, for us teachers, we were more pleased not to have him at school anyways, so we didn’t complain about having his responsibilities imposed on us in this way. On those occasions when he did get fiery mad, he walloped and kicked his wife hard, and after all that, he would charge out of his house into a grove of mixed trees or a bamboo forest, and recklessly hit tree trunks or bamboo with his walking stick. That was plain insanity, and I wondered if his hands did not hurt using such tremendous power, but he totally immersed himself in the hitting for five minutes or so, shouting “Ei! Ei! Ei! Yah! Yah! Yah!”

“These youngsters… greenhorns…” was the head teacher’s disdainful and typical reference toward young people, but I was not in the slightest affected by these slurs, because those days I held myself entirely aloof from worldly stuff, emotionally distancing myself from feelings of anger, sadness, hatred, or joy; I tried to live life allowing nature to take its course and didn’t fuss about anything, like a cloud drifting in the sky or water floating with the tide. He often excluded me from his damning, though, because he feared not collecting rent if he were to get mad at me and I moved out; he was cunning like that. Including me and the head teacher, there were a total of five teachers: the first grade male teacher, old Yamakado, the second grade female teacher, Fukuhara, and the third grade female teacher, Ishige. Mr. Yamakado was reclusive like me, maybe sixty-five years old, and walked to school all the way from Asabu wearing straw sandals. Apparently, he had coerced his daughter into working as a teacher in the city, and she wanted to get married at some point in the near future, but no-no, Mr. Yamakado would not allow that; he needed her to help with the family’s finances a bit longer. Every day he argued with her about it, and every day he told us about it: “Oh my, that young one has awakened to sex or something. She sure is itching to be married. Ah, ha, ha, ha!” He had ten children, which caused his household to be in dire straits, and he entrusted his entire well-being to a little 180 milliliter flask of sake that he got to drink each night. The head teacher did not drink. 

There is a strange inversion to the moral sense of elementary school teachers. That is, because they perceive educators as being mentors, they strive to live a life abstinent of vulgar behavior to avoid criticism from others, while assuming regular people remain indifferent to this standard and carelessly indulge in all manner of wicked behavior, which consequently allows them to think, “We can also be allowed a little bit of vice,” and to partake in bad deeds. They assume: “Other people are doing far worse things than what I’m doing. What I’m doing is not that big a deal”; however, in reality, they do things so crooked as to be beyond the realm of possibility for others. This tendency exists among rural villagers as well; they assume: “City dwellers are bad, and always up to wrongdoing, so we should be allowed a certain degree of misdeed.” In actuality, they end up doing things far more crooked than what city dwellers are doing. The same too goes for religionists. I think it’s inherently wrong to reflect upon the way others think and act, instead of thinking and acting on one’s own; but what’s worse is their reflection overall is delusive. It would surprise me that the teachers went overboard in imagining and interpreting human society as being so evil and vulgar.

The first time I visited the main school after having received official notification of my appointment, a female teacher there informed me I’d be working at the branch school, and because she lived in the area, offered to escort me to the building. She was stunningly beautiful. I had never seen such a beautiful woman until that very moment, and for the first time realized there existed a kind of beauty that could snap one straight. She was twenty-seven, single, and I heard through the grapevine she intended to remain single for life. She seemed to have a sturdy conviction which made her appear incredibly noble, modest, kind, and feminine—different from that common, “neutral” female teacher type. I secretly held deep admiration for her. There was very little contact between the main campus and the branch school, so we had no real chance of conversing after that; still, I embraced an impression of her as something noble for the next few years.

There was a wealthy, influential man in our village, and though he was quite old, he wanted to marry this teacher and make her his second wife, his first wife having died. He asked the head teacher for a favor in this matter. The promised reward was said to have been a few hundred, or a few thousand yen, and what a sight it was to see this head teacher bustling about, leaving his class unattended; it was all fruitless because the person at the heart of the matter, the female teacher, had no intention whatsoever of being married anyway. Every day the head teacher took his frustration out on everyone, and we took pains handling this man’s rough, or rather frenzied temper for a month or two. 

I was not particularly planning to, nor wanting to, confess my love to the female teacher, or get married to her for that matter; I was simply happy to hold the dear memory of her in my mind because, after all, my motto was “let nature take its course and don’t be attached to anything,” but when I heard of the head teacher’s maneuvering, I was very anxious thinking my vision of the beautiful woman could be crushed by such an offensive marriage; I came to secretly despise him regardless of this façade of mine about letting nature take its course.

One of my other colleagues, Mrs. Ishige, was the wife of a military police sergeant major or something along those lines, a really cold, neutral-type of person while another colleague, Ms. Fukuhara, was a nice aunty-type. She was probably thirty-five or six, and was the type of person who devoted herself to students, giving no care to her appearance. Her innate disposition was more like that of a kindergarten teacher than a middle school teacher. Despite being single, she didn’t have the bitchy quality of neutral-type women; she didn’t have any lofty ideals or anything, but she was a nice person. For me it was a pleasant fact that she was the noble teacher’s best friend and had a worshipful kind of respect toward her. Many female teachers were jealous of the noble teacher. When I was leaving my teaching job, she said, “It is hard and sad to see you leave, but it is a good thing. You really should not remain a teacher and live out your life being just that.” She congratulated me, made a bounty of food, and held a farewell feast. I was, however, feeling sad about my ambition which made it impossible for me to settle for a teaching job. Why could I not dedicate myself to being a teacher?

I used to enjoy lingering in the staff room by myself after school. With all the students gone and the teachers no longer there, it was just me sitting absorbed in thought. There was only the sound of the wall clock. The fact that the hustle and bustle of the schoolyard turned to complete emptiness—no sounds, no people—mysteriously made the stillness come to the fore; it was oddly hollow, and in this state of absent-mindedness, it was as though I had disappeared to somewhere else. In the midst of being absorbed by this vacant feeling, I came to imagine an apparition of myself sticking out its neck from the shadow of the clock on the wall and saying hello. I’d suddenly catch myself seeing myself, and I felt like my apparition was standing next to me and speaking to me, “Hey, what’s going on?” Although I liked having my mind in a dull haze, sometimes my apparition would unexpectedly appear next to me like this and nag: “Hey, you! Don’t be so satisfied,” he’d say, glaringly.

“I can’t be satisfied?”

“Of course not. You must suffer. You must make yourself suffer as much as you can.”

“For what?”

“You suffer, and only through that suffering will you be shown the answer. A person’s nobility lies in having oneself suffer. Everybody prefers being satisfied, even a beast.”

Is this true, I thought? The possible veracity of what my apparition was saying aside, I certainly did indulge in satisfaction. Truly, I was coming close to becoming like a Zen monk, allowing nature to take its course and living without attachments; instances where I’d become angry, happy, or sad came about less and less, and I seemed to have much more composure, maturity, and comprehension of things than did fifty- and sixty-year-old teachers despite being merely twenty. Generally, I did not have a desire for possessions. I did not wish for my soul to be limited. In summer or winter, I wore the same clothes throughout the year, I gave away books once I finished reading them, and a few changes of clothes, shirts and fundoshi, were my only surplus possessions; a parent who visited me one day spread a funny narrative that I hung my fundoshi on the wall just like any other article of clothing. “Oh really?” I thought, “Is it only me who does this?” My surprise was greater than theirs. Hanging my fundoshi was purely my way of keeping tidy. There was no concept of storage in my spirit, so of course no closet was needed. The only thing I stored as my possession was a vision of the noble female teacher; the reason I was reading the Bible around that time was because I was pleasantly associating the image of her with the Virgin Mary. Admittedly, I admired this female teacher, and yet, I was not in love with her. Not in the slightest did I feel as though I might lose my balance over her as if I were in love. All I wished for was the chance to at least sit next to her while working in the staff room at school. Today, no longer do I own the image of her in my heart. I cannot even recall her face, nor do I remember her name.

Those days, I felt as though there was a life force in the sun and I saw boundless effervescence and waves of æther in the rays it cast. A mere glance upward to the blue sky to soak up its light left me content. Being carefree, and having the wind and light sweep through the wheat fields, gave me the utmost pleasure.

I could gaze at life so dear within every single drop of rain on a rainy day and within the sound of the madly screaming wind on a stormy day. I continued feeling this precious life in the leaves of trees, birds, insects, and those clouds that drifted above—always chatting with my heart. Since there was nothing at all prompting me to drink alcohol, I never considered enjoying it. I was satisfied with the mere vision of that graceful female teacher, so I did not need the flesh of a woman. At night, I was tired, and so I slept well.

The distance between nature and myself gradually narrowed, and my senses bathed with satisfaction in nature’s touch and life force. Experiencing this wasn’t directly triggering any anxiety for me, but sure enough, when feeling content, walking along the crest of a wheat field, or through a thick, dark, primeval forest, I again began to encounter, out of the blue, an apparition of myself; I’d see it speaking to me from the inner part of the woods, the top of a thicket, or the surface of a hill. My apparitions were always still, and their words delivered amicably with composure. They always spoke to me like this: “Hey you, you need to be unhappy. Very unhappy, okay? And you need to experience suffering, because unhappiness and suffering are home to the human soul.”

But, I had no idea what I should take up to make myself feel suffering. I had little sex drive, so not being with a woman wouldn’t cause me to suffer. What part of me, exactly, should do the suffering? So, I tried to imagine what it would be like to be unhappy: Poverty. Illness. A broken heart. Failing in ambition. Old age. Ignorance. Being in a feud. Despair. I was completely satisfied. I groped for unhappiness, and yet I could not even grasp the shadow of it. Even my memory of being a naughty child afraid of reprimand and entirely disconsolate, was something that provided me with more of a nostalgic feeling than any sense of past suffering. What is unhappiness?

Nonetheless, the intermittent appearance of those shadows of myself gradually weighed heavily on me. I considered going to a house of ill-repute, and wondered, “Could it help if I catch the filthiest and the most horrible sexually transmitted disease?”

These days, I have come to think that every man experiences his greatest level of maturity during the period when he changes from young man to adult.

There are two young men who have been coming to visit me lately on occasion. Both are twenty-two, hard-boiled ultranationalists with a history of belonging to right-wing organizations, but now appear to be thinking about a truer way for a man to live his life. Although they can somewhat understand that my “Discourse on Decadence” and “Discourse on Fall” are words of truth, because of the extreme nature of the writing, these discourses remain difficult to follow. These young men revere moderation most of all.

There is another pair of young men, both having just returned from the war: one a poet, and the other an editor who belonged to a suicide squad during the war. They occasionally stay over my house for a few nights and cook me meals making clankety-clank sounds along the way; these two men carry shadows of the battlefield. A rough, untamed, wild nature gained from having been on the front brims from within. However, they possess a surprisingly moderate quality in their souls; that is to say, they too hold dear a trace of their own graceful female teacher. Both are also twenty-two. They have not begun a life of true lust yet. Their minds may not have matured to the age where the physical needs of the body cause suffering. Men of this age, though, are more mature than men of forty or fifty. Their moderate nature comes naturally to them and is not fabricated, forced, or twisted like that of an older man. For a certain period in life, I think, every man is an optimist like Candide. Then they fall and become decadent. But, I assume most lose purity in their souls as their bodies become more decadent.

Later in life, I would read Voltaire’s Candide and smile wryly; when I was a teacher, I was chased by my vague inclination toward unhappiness and suffering, but in reality, I could only grasp unhappiness and suffering as fancy ideas. At the time, as a way to grant myself unhappiness, I would think of going to brothels and wonder about falling ill with the filthiest and most horrible disease. Strangely, this idea would entwine itself round my mind in entrenched fashion. Nothing too concerning. It may be because I couldn’t imagine what unhappiness was beyond these options.

While a teacher, I did not experience the common pain of navigating life as an employee: no clashing with bosses, being bullied, or subject to the friction of cliques. There were only five of us. And there was no way we could have possibly had a clique even if we wanted to. It was a branch school, and because the head teacher was not the principal, he did not have much sense of responsibility; he was very irresponsible to begin with and had no passion for education whatsoever. Neglecting his class, he busily ran around doing things like playing matchmaker for the influential man, and so he was never able to say anything to anybody about the education profession, not one iota; even though I used a slightly slanted curriculum that lacked music and an abacus-focused math class (because I was horrible in both subjects) he did not complain. Only, once in a blue moon, he’d pull me aside and hint that I must take very good care of the children of influential families. But I didn’t get hung up on those things nor did I feel any further need to act on the head teacher’s hint since I loved all my students equally.

A landowner’s son, Ogiwara, was the child the head teacher told me to give special attention to; this landowner was a school board member. A good kid by nature, though he was sometimes mischievous; I’d sometimes have to scold him for his mischief, but he knew well why he was being reprimanded, and seemed rather secure and calm when I’d forgive him afterward. One day, he started crying. “You only scold me, none of the others!” he said in tears. This wasn’t true. In reality, he was just a spoiled boy who wanted to be pampered by me. “Oh, is that so? Do I really single you out for scolding?” I said and started laughing. He stopped crying at once, and started laughing as well. The head teacher failed to recognize this kind of connection between me and my children.

Children are sly creatures just like adults. For example, the milk house boy who flunked and had to repeat the same grade was sly alright, but at the same time, there was right courage residing within him, and he’d acceptingly sacrifice himself for others; it boils down to this worthy distinction in right courage that separates children from adults. It’s greater in children than in adults. Children can’t help being sly. Being sly is not a vice, and it coexists with right courage; when the proper amount of right courage no longer exists in harmony with slyness, that, I thought, was a problem.

One day after school, the students and teachers had all left, and vacantly absorbed in thought alone in the staff room, I heard someone knocking on the glass window from outside. It was the head teacher.

Earlier, on his way home, he had stopped by the Ogiwaras, and witnessed the Ogiwara boy’s tear-filled return from school; the boy told his father and the head teacher he’d been scolded by me. “It’s all your fault, father! Because you’re throwing your weight around being a school board member. That’s why my teacher hates me! Father, it’s your fault. You fool!” the boy said, acting so unruly and so out of control. The head teacher asked, “Why on earth did you scold him?”

Little did he know, I didn’t…. Children act out because they’re sad; invariably, there is meaning behind their actions, therefore, we should never judge a child’s actions by what we see on the surface. “I see…,” I told the head teacher. “It wasn’t extremely bad behavior, but I had to teach him a lesson or two, so I did what I needed to do.” “Alright, then,” the head teacher smiled obsequiously. “Why don’t you take a quick trip to the Ogiwaras now and explain what really happened? As we say: If you can’t beat them, join them. Conformity brings about a better consequence. We cannot help it, right? Hehe.” The head teacher was a man who often ended his words with this chuckling, “hehe.”

“I don’t need to go. Would you please tell the boy, and only the boy, to come here on your way back home?”

“Alright. But hey, you cannot scold your children too much.”

“Yes, I know… but they are my children, so please leave them up to me.”

“Alright. But please make sure you adjust your tone of reprimand. Especially with the children of influential families.”

The head teacher was probably in good spirits, so he took my words more readily than expected and hopped away. I had forgotten until today that he had this way of walking with his butt sticking out sideways and hopping because he was a bit lame. Those feet, however, were awfully fast.

Soon the boy came into view, smiling in embarrassment; he called my name from outside the window and hid himself. Although I scolded him often, he was my favorite kid, and well understood my deep affection for him.

“Why did you give your father trouble?”

“Because I was very irritated.”

“Tell me the truth. You engaged in mischief on the way home from school, didn’t you?”

The troubles and agony children lock in their hearts are persistent and serious just as with adults, and perhaps even more so with children. Just because the reasons for their troubles are childish, we cannot conclude the depth of their agony is infantile. The degree of self-reproach and anguish is the same for everyone regardless of age, whether a boy of seven or a man of forty.

The boy started crying. Apparently, from the outside display table of the stationary store next to the school, he had lifted a pencil. The milk house boy, Tanaka, had threatened him and made him do it; perhaps Tanaka had a secret that made Ogiwara vulnerable and he took advantage of it. Nevertheless, I did not need to meddle and ask all the details between the two; in any case, Ogiwara reluctantly stole the pencil. I told him, “Don’t worry. I’ll pay for the pencil without revealing your name.” He went home pleased. A few days later, carefully checking nobody else was around, he slid into the staff room, pulled out twenty or thirty sen, and asked, “Teacher, did you already pay?”

As far as the milk house boy goes, every time he sensed he’d be scolded after his bad conduct came to light, he would start working with extreme diligence. He’d volunteer to be in charge of cleaning duty; busily, he’d even wipe the window glass. Or, he’d say: “Teacher, the toilet seems full now, so, I’ll go and draw the waste.” “You can do that?” I’d say. “I can do anything that requires manual labor!” “Alright. But where are you going to bring the waste?” “I’ll dump it into the river behind the school.” “Don’t be ridiculous.”

Generally, this was how it would go. I found it extremely comical because once again, he began his routine of diligence just as I would have expected.

I walked toward him. He edged back at once.

“Teacher…! No, please, don’t scold me!”

He covered his ears with all his might and closed his eyes.

“No, I won’t scold you.”

“Will you forgive me?”

“Yes, I’ll forgive you. Now, you can’t put others up to stealing stuff anymore. If you can’t help but do bad things, don’t use others. Act on your own. Good or bad, you’ve got to do things on your own.”

Tanaka would always listen, nodding his head.

If one considered what we preached to young children as life’s precepts worth following, he would find the occupation of teaching hollow, and the idea of continuing with it, impossible. When young, however, I was confident about myself. I couldn’t possibly imagine preaching to children like that now in a million years. In those days, however, I was senselessly absorbed in how it was that nature made me feel, and from within my soul, something like a hymn to the sun forever poured and played. I somehow remained completely and unblushingly void of desire and ignorant to the true emptiness that comes from being in that state. Staying there was entirely possible.

When I quit my teaching job, I was irresolute. Why must I quit? I had decided to study Buddhism and become a monk, longing for enlightenment and a sense of nostalgia for the discipline required to attain enlightenment. Eventually I realized, though, that this same disciplined quality could be pursued and used in life as a teacher. With that realization, I came to understand fame was what I truly desired, not enlightenment, and lamented over this self-seeking lowly desire. I was devoid of hope. The fruition of my aspiration for discipline and enlightenment rested upon a need to renounce the world, and yet, deep down in my heart, I feared this idea; my sense of remorse, despair, and anxiety continued, and came from the knowledge that I was abandoning right hope. “What I was doing must not have been enough. I need to discard anything and everything. And, only after that, might I be able to grasp a way out.” I was observant of myself being single-mindedly impatient with discarding. I was like a desperate madman: discard, discard, discard—discard everything no matter what it may be. Just like committing suicide is one means of desire to live, my desperate orientation toward discarding was actually nothing more than the green spring of my youth going pitter-patter behind me. That I knew as well. You see, I had wanted to become a novelist since I was a young boy. But I convinced myself I did not possess the talent. This deeply entrenched belief that had me give up right hope altogether could be what fundamentally drove me to madness and desperation.

Looking back and examining my history during my year as a teacher, strangely and completely satisfied, I feel as though that person was someone else; every time I think about it, it feels like a lie—an inexplicably transparent falsehood.