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Perspectives in English

What is 'en'?


Akane Segawa

Manekineko
In Sumiyoshi Shrine, the cat holding up
his left paw is believed to beckon good
'en' of the people.
   How do we come to know each other? It's always a mystery. People meet and part unexpectedly urged by invisible force of the universe like bubbles flowing down the river. You can say the river is your life. It keeps a certain stream of water even if the course meanders. The bubbles are people we meet in our life. They appear and disappear as the flow is hurrying down to the sea. I often wonder what kind of force is working to make me run into someone or something. Even in this high- technology era, the Japanese call this kind of mysterious encounter in a traditional word, 'en'.
   Our ancestors used to say that 'Even a slight touch on each other's sleeves means a certain connection in our previous life.' It is said in Buddhism that we all have the pre-existance. We might have been a different sex with a different occupation or, furthermore of a different nationality. The accumulation of the human connections in our former life is so voluminous that we cannot expect which one would pop up in our present life.
   Therefore almost on all occasions we can use the word 'en' to welcome a surprise on an unexpected encounter or coincidence. From a serious matter such as marriage or job hunting to a trivial one like sitting side by side, you can say 'We have 'en' presumably originated in our pre-existance, don't we?'

Bunka Gakuin
   I have been teaching English in a small private school in Kanda Surugadai. I love my job, but have never been so ambitious about it and never thought of my working outside the school. However because the serious declining birthrate of the country caused a dwindling number of students, it became inevitable for me to get out of school to recruit more candidates. I happened to participate in a municiple event for our school publicity. Maybe after that event held last November, my invisible 'en' with Kanda Gakkai began to bubble. I was suddenly introduced to the leader of the group, Mr. Kinji Kubo, by one of my acquaintances. I met other members at a meeting and event. A new experience as an interpretor for the pretty twins from America, an interview on the magazine 'Kanda Renaissance', and finally a writer to the English website.
   I don't know where the bubbles are heading for. I had never thought of such involvement of mine in this organization.

   My grandmother, who was a very earnest Buddhist throughout her life, often told me, ' "en" of the people is very important. you have to do your best in the circle of those who happen to come up in your life. They are your teachers. Learn a lot from them.' The sound of 'en' coincides another Japanese word which means 'circle'. Moreover, 'Gakkai' presented in Chinese characters means 'to meet and learn'.
   Bubbles formed up in a small corner of the flow have already set forward. I would like to follow my grandmother's teaching and do my best as an occasional writer on this English website.

in Japanese
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