Unity and sadness in a group of buildings

Let us go back to the Eishin campus, described in Books 1, 2, and 3, which has several examples of the same kind of unity. Here the unity takes a human form, it is a unity not only in the buildings, but in the buildings, and the people, and their actions. The quality of sadness, underlying this unity, is more visible, because that campus is (in its success) so deeply dependent on the human life that happens there.

One of the things I remember several people said in one form or another, “I would like to be able to take a walk along some little stream or some little pool while I am thinking about my next lecture.” A number of teachers made, though not exactly the same comment, some comment along these lines. In time, this need for water was incorporated into the plan, in the lake we built. We made bridges over the lake, we planted lawns coming up to the lake, we planted cherry trees along the lake, and we built a little path along the water.

Now, years later, the campus is built, and has been used for years. The water, dreamed of by those teachers long ago, is actually in the school in the form of that lake.

And now, so many years later, when people are asked what it is about the school that means most to them, many say “the lake”. It has become first on many people’s list of things they like about the campus. What people originally told us, half ashamed, about their dreams of water and small paths where they could think about their lectures, was something real. Now that the lake is there, this real feeling has room to exist, and has become more real. The connection people expressed as an aspect of their inner selves was not an artificial concept but an inner reality which has been proven in practice.

The lake shows what I mean by “sadness”. Of course, superficially, it is mainly happy. The ducks are swimming, the light is beautiful, people walk arm in arm around the lake. But if you compare it with an asphalt playground, the more usual core of a high school — that asphalt does not allow your sadness to exist. It hardens your heart, you have to stifle your feelings, you can hardly allow yourself to feel anything. But this lake, even though it allows happiness to exist, is much closer to tears. If you have tears, you can feel them at the sight of the lake, or of the wind ruffles on the surface of the water. Its very existence in the school even allows your tears. You become the kind of person who can shed tears — your tears are closer to the surface of your existence.

(Pages 250-256)

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