A magazine article provides an opportunity for self-reflection

“Whatever you see is innen; whatever you hear is innen.”

As one who spends much of my time on the computer and the internet, the suicides of Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake certainly gave me pause and thus provided me with an opportunity for self-reflection.

Though there may have been a possibility that I ran across the name Jeremy Blake somewhere before, I must admit I never really knew who these individuals were until I read the Newsweek article on their untimely passings in July this year.

The article attributes Theresa Duncan’s suicide to the computer technology that made them successful: “the very technologies that had infused their work and elevated their lives became tools to reinforce destructive delusions and weapons to lash out at a world they thought was closing in on them.”

Duncan inevitably succumbed to her inner delusions and paranoia that the Church of Scientology and other institutions were actively obstructing her career.

Stanford University’s Fred Turner is quoted as saying that as Duncan’s paranoia and self-imposed isolation progressed, for her and Blake, “their only reality check left was the wisps of information on their computer screens. And unfortunately, that isn’t a very powerful check.”

The article struck me because I also have the tendency to mentally, if not physically, withdraw and isolate myself from my social surroundings. Since my work as a translator requires much concentration, so this is a positive and advantageous attribute on most days. Yet as Duncan’s unfortunate descent shows, when taken to the extreme, isolation can prove to be self-destructive.

Tenrikyo teaches:

“Any and everything is reflected in the world. All is reflected in the world. The world is a mirror.”

Osashizu, February 4, 1889

“Whatever you see is innen; whatever you hear is innen.”

ibid, September 27, 1890

Although innen is often translated as “causality” in English, I find that this term carries too much philosophical baggage and implications that are not fully grasped by most people, including myself.

I personally see innen as our individual tendencies and thought patterns that have the power to affect the outcome of our actions and our lives. These tendencies are potential causes that lead to certain potential positive and negative consequences.

So I find Duncan’s situation not as an isolated incident, but a warning showing myself and others who share the same innen to isolate themselves where this “path of the mind” may potentially lead to. It was also an important reminder of the lesson I was provided with during Shuyoka almost nine years ago.

On to a different note: today happens to mark a full year since I joined the Translation Section of the Tenrikyo Overseas Department. I didn’t really have much of an idea of what I was getting myself into nor did I have serious expectations on what I could accomplish here.

My own take of my situation is somewhat muted compared to the giddiness or anxiety I may have felt a year ago, but I would like to continue to imagine that I can make the most of my potential at my present position.

On reflection, I probably would have a completed manuscript of a possible publication by now, but don’t because I have chosen to devote myself to several projects at once instead of concentrating on just one.

Was it folly to go this route? I don’t see it that way, for at the rate things are budget-wise here, any new publication that bears my contribution will not likely see the light of day until 2009 or so.

This makes me all the more grateful to Lewis again providing the catalyst and foundation for this website so that at least a few of my translations will get some limited “airplay” in the endless cacophony of the worldwide web.

Note: Although I may work for Tenrikyo Church Headquarters, the content of this site is the responsibility of mine alone and does not necessarily reflect or represent the opinions or stance of my employer.

*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.