Life In The Concrete


Life in the concrete, which we are living, greatly differs from life

in the abstract, which exists only in the class-room. It is not

eternal; it is fleeting; it is full of anxieties, pains, struggles,

brutalities, disappointments, and calamities. We love life, however,

-not only for its smoothness, but for its roughness; not only for its

pleasure, but for its pain; not only for its hope, but for its fear;

not only fo
its flowers, but for its frost and snow. As

Issai[FN#224] (Sato) has aptly put it: Prosperity is like spring, in

which we have green leaves and flowers wherever we go; while

adversity is like winter, in which we have snow and ice. Spring, of

course, pleases us; winter, too, displeases us not. Adversity is

salt to our lives, as it keeps them from corruption, no matter how

bitter to taste it way be. It is the best stimulus to body and mind,

since it brings forth latent energy that may remain dormant but for

it. Most people hunt after pleasure, look for good luck, hunger

after success, and complain of pain, ill-luck, and failure. It does

not occur to them that 'they who make good luck a god are all unlucky

men,' as George Eliot has wisely observed. Pleasure ceases to be

pleasure when we attain to it; another sort of pleasure displays

itself to tempt us. It is a mirage, it beckons to us to lead us

astray. When an overwhelming misfortune looks us in the face, our

latent power is sure to be aroused to grapple with it. Even delicate

girls exert the power of giants at the time of emergency; even

robbers or murderers are found to be kind and generous when we are

thrown into a common disaster. Troubles and difficulties call forth

our divine force, which lies deeper than the ordinary faculties, and

which we never before dreamed we possessed.

[FN#224] A noted scholar (1772-1859) and author, who belonged to the

Wang School of Confucianism. See Gen-shi-roku.