Saturday, November 20, 2004

I have been re-watching The Last Samurai. I am not sure if anyone understands the kind of homesickness this film evokes in me. My homesickness is not for a time, a place, a culture, or a people. It is for a way of life based on a genuine spiritual morality that does not come from a book, but from the very experience of living as true human beings. I have never seen it, but I was taught its principles. And so I get homesick when I see anything that exemplifies it as it is so richly done in The Last Samurai.

Both The Last Samurai and Dances with Wolves deal with the same basic topic. It is the clash, not of civilizations, but of an altered morality brought on by industrialization and selfish greed. It is the clash between the machine mind and the spiritual mind, between the partial mind and the whole mind.

Algren is asked, "What is it about your own people you hate so much?" I wish I had a short answer for that. I can only point to the movie and hope the watcher understands what our world could look like if people devoted themselves to the self-cultivation of service, discipline, and compassion.

Such an ethic was practiced for a 1000 years in Japan, and its remnants continue to prevade Japanese society. These principles are rooted in 2500 year old Confucian thought. I believe the West has much to learn about true morality. Until it does, it is destined to once again crumble under the weight of its own arrogance, greed, indifference, and sheer stupidity.