悟りを開き、フォースを悟るOpening Up the Force

The first 100 verbs learned by people who take up the Japanese language almost always include the word “hiraku (開く/ ひらく). That’s how it was for me in the study materials I first used. I still vividly recall the example sentence introducing the word: “Tobira o hirakimasu (I open the door/I’m going to open the door)”. This isn’t exactly a profound example, and left me with the impression that the word is used in expressions reserved for daily conversation.



Credit: Niwa Keiko
しかし、どの言語にも語彙の使い方は自由闊達であり、「意」を伝えるためにその表現力は常にかつ自然により豊になり、やがてその経緯で新たな表現が「誕生」します。漢字や仏教を始め大陸の中華文化朝鮮半島を通して日本列島に伝来したときに日本語も劇的に変遷し、多岐に渡る言葉とそれを用いる表現が生まれました。例えば仏教において「寺院を開山」や「宗派を開く・開祖する」、そして「悟りを開く」という表現はおそらくその時代に作られたでしょう。これらの表現には「開く」やその字の「開 (かい)」が用いられています。
However, there are really no limitations on how words can be used in any language. The quest to convey what we want to say causes language to consistently and naturally deepen, and this process “brings into existence” new kinds of expressions. This happened when Chinese culture from the continent, including kanji characters and Buddhism, made their way to Japan via the Korean peninsula. The Japanese language underwent a radical transformation, giving rise to a broad range of new words and expressions that employed them. In the case of Buddhism, its transmission to the Japanese isles probably led to the creation of phrases such as “寺院を開山 (“ji-in o kaisan” or “found a temple”), “宗派を開く・開祖する(“shuha o hiraku/kaiso suru” or “establish a sect”, and “悟りを開く (“satori o hiraku” or “to attain enlightment”). All of these expressions feature the word “hiraku” or its kanji stem, which is read as “kai.”
I couldn’t shake this image of “hiraku (to open)” when I first saw “Shroud of Darkness”, the 18th episode in season two of the Star Wars animated series “Rebels”. Kanan, Ezra, and Ahsoka feel hounded by the Inquisitors and Vader, uncertain of how to fight back against them. Thus, they decide to go to the ancient Jedi temple on Lothal, Ezra’s home world, in order to seek the counsel of Master Yoda. This temple looks less like a place of worship and more like a natural structure, a mountain standing tall above the plains, with no visible door or gate. To open this hidden door, the Jedi master (in this case Kanan) and his apprentice (Ezra) must quiet their hearts together and use the Force.



Credit: starwars.com
The act of opening the door to this mountain-like temple is essentially just that: opening up a mountain. Taking the character for open (開) and mountain (山) we get the word “kaisan” (開山). This word has a few different meanings in Japanese, and nearly all of them have Buddhist connotations. One way in which the word is used is to describe the building/founding of a temple, or “tera o kaisan suru (寺を開山する)”. Temples were often built on mountains in northern India and Tibet, two places steeped in Buddhist history. The same was true in Japan, with many of temples built atop mountains after Buddhism made its way to the Japanese archipelago (incl. Hieizan Enryakuji, Kiyomizu-dera, Koya-san). According to Gen Nakamura’s dictionary of Buddhist terms, the word “kaisan” reflects the fact that places of study and temples were often constructed on mountains as they provided a tranquil location ideally suited for practicing Buddhism.   



比叡山の概要 Overview of Hiezan

Credit: www.hieizan.or.jp


The Lothal temple definitely fits this description, having been built in a tranquil location perfect for training in the ways of the Force. The temple on Ahch-To where Luke spent his final days also fits the bill. Both locations were secluded away from the “worldly” affairs of the wider galaxy, providing the Jedi with a place where they could concentrate on the Force free of such distractions. On the other hand, the Jedi temple on Coruscant was right in the middle of a metropolis, far from nature and nowhere near a remote and tranquil location. This led the Jedi Order to become deeply involved with the Galactic Senate, preventing the Jedi from focusing on studying the Force. Instead, the Order found itself preoccupied with politics for thousands of years. The sway of worldly desires over the Jedi (in this case, a lust for power) is one of the factors that led to their eventual demise. The prequel trilogy wonderfully depicts the downfall of the Order that lost sight of its true self. When we view this particular episode of Rebels with this history in mind, we can view the return to the temple on Lothal as symbolic of going back to the roots of the Jedi, an order originally committed to training in the ways of the Force to gain a transcendent knowledge, not one which used the Force as a means for holding on to power.




Jedi temples on Coruscant (top) and Ahch-To. Quite the contrast.

Credit: Wookiepedia, starwars.com

「開く」を用いるもう一つ仏教用表現は「悟りを開く」です。英語にしますと「to attain enlightenment」や「to become enlightened/spiritually awakened」と訳されることが多いですが、受動的な印象を与えてしまい、自ら悟りへの扉を開く(open)という能動的な意味合いが訳出されないとは拙僧の見解です。3人のフォース使いが求めていた「悟り」はその山の如し寺院に潜めていたことを信じて、だから「山を開いて(開山)」自らの手で掴むことにしました。これは中沢新一氏がいう禅の自立的な面をよく表していると思います。「宗教は、一般的に超越者に自分の身を委ねる傾向がありますが、仏教の中でも、特に禅宗の場合はかなり自立的です。おのれ一人があればよい…メディテーション(瞑想)を通して、自らの努力で自立から普遍へ向かうというのが禅の基本的な考え方です。制度にも伝統にもよらない、おのれ一人の赤肉団上(しゃくにくだんじょう)の心があれば十分なのだという禅の文化。」これを始めて読んだ時に目に留まったのは「制度にも伝統にもよらない」との節でした。滅びたジェダイオーダーを復活しなくてもいいかも知れません。フォース修行に励む心構えだけで十分。この自立を見事に成し遂げたのはアーソカタノであると拙僧が思います。自分の意志を信じ、そして制度と伝統を人より重んじるようになってしまったジェダイオーダーに再び身を委ねること拒んで、自分の道を歩むことにしました。おそらくダースモールに殺された前にクワイ・ガン・ジンも同様の悟りを開きました。制度 (=ジェダイオーダー)より自立を貫き、フォースのあらゆる面を追及する道を選んだはずだと拙僧が思います。二人が開いた悟りというのは、フォースがジェダイやシースの独断的な教理より「遥かに巨大」な存在であることではないでしょうか?最終的にルークもそれを悟りました。
Another Buddhist phrase in Japanese that uses the word “hiraku” is “satori o hiraku”. It is often translated to English as “to attain enlightenment” or “to become enlightened/spiritually awakened”, but these have always struck me as having a passive connotation. They fail to convey the active sense of exercising one’s volition to open the door to enlightenment. Our three Force users in this episode believe the knowledge, the enlightenment they seek lies within that mountain-like temple, so they “open (開) the mountain (山)” and go inside to get it. This act is a good representation of the independent volition in Zen as described by Japanese scholar Shinichi Nakazawa. “Most religions call on people to give themselves over to some superior being. In Buddhism, and in particular Zen, the emphasis is much more on the individual. That’s all you need… The basic premise of Zen is focusing on meditation and working your way towards that universal truth. There’s no need for any particular system or tradition. Just your own heart, free of all worldly distractions.” The part of this quote that really struck me was “no need for any particular system or tradition.” Perhaps it doesn’t matter if the Jedi Order is resurrected. Simply concentrating on studying the ways of the Force is all that needs to be done. The individual in Star Wars who I believe perfectly executed this sense of volition was Ahsoka Tano. She chose not to give herself over again to the Jedi, an order that had come to put tradition and conventions before the individual. Rather, she chose to trust in herself and walk her own path. I believe that Qui Gon Jinn would have “opened” the same “realization (=satori)” had he not been killed by Darth Maul. He would have likely elected to remain true to his own volition, forsaking the Jedi Order and choosing a path committed to exploring the Force in all its aspects. Indeed, their shared realization is that the Force “is so much bigger” than the dogmatic ways of the Jedi or the Sith. This is the realization that Luke ultimately arrives at, or more appropriately, “opens”.



アーソカ・タノ Ahsoka Tano

Credit: starwars.com