I must admit I didn’t necessarily feel any sense of great accomplishment upon completing Anecdotes 200 the other day. I mainly felt relieved to have finally gotten it out of the way more than anything else.
I want to get across a few things in this post.
First, although I’ve spent the last two and a half years working on this Blogging Anecdotes of Oyasama series, I still feel that I have only scratched the surface at best when it comes to understanding the many stories that appear in this text.
At the recent Tenrikyo Hawaii Convention (THC), I came away with an overpowering sense that I still have much to learn from Anecdotes of Oyasama. To elaborate, there was a portion in the THC program where we were asked to discuss Anecdotes 135 (“With Round Minds”).
I, being the pretentious translator that I am, was quick to point out the limitations of the phrase “round minds” and that its Japanese equivalent “marui kokoro” hinted at meanings that may not be immediately apparent in English.
Two other people from my group then shared what they got from the story. The first person spoke of how the grapes symbolized that everyone in the world are somehow all connected. It also demonstrated the ideal for all members of humanity to live harmoniously, occupying the same relative space with one another.
The second person perceptively contrasted the behavior of the child and his parents. While the boy’s parents prostrated themselves in front of Oyasama, the boy, who was free and uncommitted to conforming to such social niceties, looked about in wonder and stared at the grapes sitting in front of him. She suggested that there was something in the boy’s behavior that we could learn from as there is a tendency for us as members of a faith group to place excessive focus on formalities and outward appearances.
I doubt I have given enough justice to the insight these two people happened to share then. But the point that I wish to make is that I came away with a sense that I was not giving Anecdotes (as flawed as it may be in some places as a translated text) the credit it is due. Even though there are portions that can certainly be improved to better reflect the Japanese original, the translation as it is now still has great potential to inspire those who seek insight from it.
I began to wonder if my ability to read Anecdotes in its original language and my tendency to critique the way it was translated into English actually confines me to merely have a superficial understanding of it. I might also like to add that I obviously have a historicist bent/bias that may end up muddling things up even more than necessary.
With this in mind, I hope that I have not made anyone feel compelled to accept anything I may have happened to write about a certain selection from Anecdotes to be authoritative or final in any way. Besides, I honestly don’t remember most of what I have written, so the probability that I have internalized anything that I wrote about must be quite low. This goes for everything else I have done on this website.
What I failed to fulfill
I realize that since I dived into this project, I sort of diverged somewhat from what I initially set out to do. I recently reread the Intro to this series to remind myself of some of the things I originally planned to accomplish.
One was to “compare the current translation with the original Japanese and point out any portions that I feel require [sic] updating or improving.” This really became less and less important as the project went along, I really didn’t feel I had enough time to invest toward this initial objective all the time. I think this was all for the better, actually.
I also wrote, “since I do not really have the resources to check the ‘veracity’ of each story, I’ll just presume that they represent our best understanding of what occurred and what Oyasama said in certain situations unless I have a good reason to believe otherwise.” Obviously, I utterly failed at this. As I limped forward the last months I just could not help but add in words/phrases such as “allegedly,” “as described in,” and “portray.” Would you call this a creeping agnosticism? I wouldn’t know. I make a bad psychoanalyst.
I also promised to do my best “to pick up on the essential points” of the teachings conveyed in each selection. I admittedly can’t claim that I did this on a consistent basis.
Finally, as the most glaring failure of all, I originally promised to “include the full text of anecdotes that I feel are short enough while summarizing the longer ones” (emphasis added). I fully revised the post where I originally wrote this. It now simply reads, “Since I would like all potential visitors to Tenrikyology.com to know what I’m blogging about, I’ll include full texts of each selection.”
I ultimately proved to be too lazy to do any such summarizing on my part. I am glad I did not try to fulfill this promise.
The quick answer to the question, “What’s next?” honestly, is: Nothing. Nada. Zippo. I do not expect to begin any major project here on Tenrikyology.com for the rest of 2011 at least, maybe even for the foreseeable future. I may occasionally post an article if I feel inspired enough, but for the most part, I plan to take an extended break from working on this website.
That being said, I also feel some housekeeping is long overdue on Tenrikyology.com. This includes edits here and there, updating/adding links, and so on. I may eventually get to doing this in the months ahead, but I am not making any promises.
In the meantime, I plan to post periodically on Tenrikyo Resource (mostly translation work) and devote attention to adding pages to the Tenrikyo Resource Wiki.
Thanks for reading, as always.
Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.