Meta Writing: aesthetics asian culture meta symbolism Writing
This spring, I started a little project called Wind Through Pines. It was my experiment with using Blogger, and it taught me that although Blogger is easy to use and generally not that bad, I prefer the greater creative freedom that WordPress gives me. I thought about re-creating Wind Through Pines as a WordPress blog, but ultimately decided to use a domain I already own: ChrisCordry.com. A year and a half ago I used this blog to chronicle my adventures through Southeast Asia. Now, my life has a different flavor: I’m beginning to put down roots. I’m pursuing an M.A. in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. I’m teaching T’ai Chi here in San Diego. I’m deepening into my personal practice of meditation. And I’m beginning my background research for my master’s thesis, which means that I’m reading a lot about the creative confluence of Buddhism and psychotherapy.
My original concept for Wind Through Pines was that it would be a vehicle for my personal self-expression, especially my thoughts in the areas of Buddhism, Taoism, depth psychology and psychotherapy, poetry, and martial arts.
Back in May, I had this to say about “wind through pines” as a poetic image:
Why Wind Through Pines? It’s a classic image found throughout the poetry and music of China and Japan, suggesting ethereal beauty, impermanence, and melancholy. In China and Japan, the pine tree, as an evergreen, symbolizes stoic endurance and longevity, standing nobly upright between Heaven and Earth, just as a human being should. In this way, the pine embodies traditional Confucian ideals of virtue. But in Japanese, matsu, or pine, can also mean “to wait,” and as such, the pine often serves as a symbol of longing in Japanese poetry.
While the pine stands firmly rooted in one place, the wind, in contrast, blows freely. In the Japanese Buddhist godai or five element system, kaze or fu (wind) represents growth, expansion, freedom of movement, open-mindedness, and carefree wandering, as well as elusiveness and evasion.
When the mercurial wind blows through the ancient and deeply-rooted pine forest, a haunting and ephemeral melody is produced. In Chinese music, Wind Through Pines is a classic qin melody called Feng Ru Song Ge. There is also at least one famous composition for the shakuhachi, or Japanese bamboo flute, called Matsukaze (pine wind or wind in pines).
Writing, and especially blogging, is like this: it passes in and out of existence like the sound of wind through pines. Even if a text endures for some time, the sound of its words in the mind of the reader is short-lived. Maybe someone will remember it, maybe not. Books will turn to dust, web pages will be lost in the ether, and writer and reader will both eventually die. But, as it is said in Zen, “life and death are of supreme importance.” The way we live our lives matters, and therefore it matters what we think, read, and write. These words are like wind through pines, here today and gone tomorrow. But if my writing serves its purpose well, perhaps its echoes will linger in the minds of a few sympathetic readers, helping to awaken a deeper awareness and appreciation for virtue, wisdom, and the fleeting moments of beauty that make life worth living.
I hope to keep my work here aligned with this spirit: firmly rooted in traditional moral and aesthetic values, and yet freely ranging, humorous, and fundamentally open in the face of ultimate impermanence.