Today’s guest post is from Anne, who presents to us a most interesting dialogue from episode 120 of InuYasha.
One of my favorite scenes from InuYasha was where Kikyou spoke to Saint Hakushin in episode 120. Previously, Miroku and Sango had found Saint Hakushin—a living Buddha—at the top of the mountain. They were confused about why someone with his high morals would assist Naraku. St. Hakushin claimed he did not care what Naraku was and was only doing what he wished.
He began to explain about his past when he always helped people. He claimed to have entered Nirvana after several years of a great famine. At that time, he believed all men, regardless of how good or bad, were worthy of salvation, even to the extent of helping someone who had attacked his village. He eventually became ill and collapsed. The people did not know who could save them now, so he volunteered to become a living Buddha to look after them forever. So, he was buried alive in their presence.
After a while, it occurred to him that the people were praying for his death, and he became overwhelmed with regret because of his attachment to life and fear of death. In the end his remains were sanctified, but his soul was left in darkness without hope. Then Naraku began to speak to him and taught him to hate and to feel bitter towards those he had helped. Because of this, he believed Naraku saved his soul.
Later on, Kikyou finds him and works to learn the root of the sadness that Naraku turned into bitterness and hatred. During his life, he thought that he had to be perfect. In his death, when he realized that perfection was beyond his grasp, it crushed him. Kikyou had once lived in the same way, and she used this to identify with him. She recognized she could not save him and did not try. She only tried to be present with him and understand him. She convinced him to open up to her and helped him make sense of his pain. He did not truly hate people. He was ashamed of his own weakness in not being able to die as a saint.
I think most everyone wants to be admirable. I for one have a lot of perfectionist tendencies. But as Kikyou pointed out, there is not “anyone in this world who has not wandered, who has never sinned.” There is only One who is perfect, and trying to be that will only set one up for failure (read the complete conversation here).
Naraku had done great wrong to Kikyou, and Saint Hakushin had been assisting him. It would have been understandable if she had just finished him off, but she helped him instead. I think this is something we all need to strive to do. You can never really know what is going on inside of another person or why they behave the way they do. Assumptions can often be wrong. When someone is being difficult or mean or even just disagrees about something important to you, it can be easy to hate them and feel justified for it. Jesus died for us when we were still sinners. He could have wiped us all out and been justified in that, but He did not. He died to save those who were His enemies. What sins have been committed against each of us pale in comparison, so we should seek to love our enemies as well. The world would be a better place if we all took more time to try to understand each other instead of just trying to win arguments and save people only God can save. I have probably not been the most successful at this, so, I will pose the question: how can we learn to truly care about those we dislike and even hate? How can we work to put an end to people vilifying those they disagree with, particularly as the political climate continues to get more and more polarized?
Anne is a stress engineer. She traveled to Japan in 2016 and has gotten progressively more interested in Japanese culture ever since. She also enjoys spending time with friends and playing video games.
Featured art by もとび (redistribution permitted)