The scroll with the sentence "雲去雲来晩寺鐘" about clouds and the sound of the bell in the temple attracted my attention immediately. The clouds come and go, while the echo of the bell in the temple remains with those who hear it with their ears and feel it with their heart. Both the cloud and the sound of the bell are intangible but they aroused sentimental feelings inside the poet's heart. This sentence reminds me of the philosophy of impermanence and evanescence of life (無常観 "mujokan" in Japanese), as nothing lasts forever in this world. On the other side, the philosophy also inspires me to cherish the present and all the memories I keep in the life I had so far. Maybe no exact meaning can be defined for people's life, but we can make choices in life to make our lives something beautiful and inspiring, just like the free and natural sound of bells that spreads far far away, and lands on the softest ground of some people's heart.

~ Youyou


"Turn one's kokoro around."

It's funny how often the scrolls in class are directly relevant to our personal lives. In my first semester of graduate school, I've felt a lot of pressure to do good work and be a productive student, most of it self-imposed. This led to what has been, without question, the most difficult academic semester I have ever encountered. Throughout the semester, I spoke with a number of people about the stress I was feeling to try and formulate more realistic expectations for myself. In my head, I knew that what I expected of myself was unreasonable, especially for a first-semester student, but it wasn't until recently that I truly believed that in my heart. I feel like this is the point in the year where I have finally managed to turn my own kokoro around in regards to academic work, and it has done wonders for my own mental and emotional health. I think this statement is a fantastic reminder that whenever one feels stress or anxiety, the simplest solution may be the one that works: stepping back from the problem, taking a deep breath, and taking a new perspective on it that allows one to deal with the problem at hand without sacrificing their own personal health.

~ Robert


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