Godspeed, Jizo-sama

Sorry if my blogging rhythm is totally screwy. I have had some other projects going on. It’s also not like I haven’t been writing for this blog: I’ve got over a hundred drafts for this site, many of which are almost finished, but I just can’t get around to finishing them when I’m at home.

Anyway, is there really an Amida Buddha, Kannon, Jizo Bosatsu, or Mary? That archetype, does it really exist? Sure it does. Just watch almost any movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki and you’ll be exposed to some of the deepest love that exists. And I don’t just mean like, he puts a deep love into the direction of these films — I mean, they actually exude incredibly deep cosmic love. Very powerful stuff — sorcery perhaps, on the level of only a handful of artists and visionaries in existence at any one time.

Who else exudes such high levels of love? There are many, but here is just a small handful:

  • Jason Becker
  • Susumu Hirasawa
  • Akira Kurosawa
  • ABBA

The irony here is that guys like Miyazaki and Kurosawa supposedly either work their staff like dogs, or picked mercilessly on certain members of their crew. So what’s the deal with that? Furthermore, Miyazaki is pretty rough on his son, as far as I know. But at the same time, I sort of understand… I’ve definitely had teachers who were great to me and the other students, but were neurotic and crazy on their own, or known really good people who are awful to their own families, and vice versa. Isn’t that so strange?

One of Miyazaki’s masterpieces, My Neighbor Totoro, subtly incorporates the theme of Jizo Bosatsu into the storyline. The patron of unborn children, stillborn children, dead children and orphans — the Jizo is a protectorate of the helpless who drown in the samsaric sea before they even get a chance to swim in it. I like that idea. Miyazaki’s films are primarily aimed at young children, particularly girls, hoping to inspire them with a sense of compassion and self-worth while they are still young, providing them with positive role models. Although the protagonists are not orphans, they encounter the carefully placed Jizo shrines in the story, at pivotal plot points. It does not seem so apparent at first, but upon a second viewing I felt pretty sure that this was significant to Miyazaki’s message.

Many children are orphans, and at the very least many children do not have good role models. Even if there is no tangible, concrete protector deity floating around saving them, I like the idea quite a bit. It’s one worth drinking to. And Miyazaki’s body of work comes pretty close to embodying those ideals. It’s too bad that his recent film, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, is to be his last. But really, in this foaming sea of chaos, where we swim around looking for purpose, it’s very nice to know that someone like Miyazaki made his vision become reality.

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