In the lives of all, there is an eternal, constant cycle of life. People are born, they live, then die, and repeat, making life seem meaningless to some. How are people strung up in the cycle of life and can one escape it? This cycle of life represents the people who go on through their lives until death, without “living” or purpose. It seems as though this is a commonly occurring problem in the lives of many trying to figure out what they want to make out of their lives. Insight from Siddhartha, Seven Samurai, and the Tao Te Ching brings up knowledge of how individuals can handle their lives and what they can do to make a change.
Siddhartha, a man confused with life, struggles to find his nirvana. He was in a constant cycle of being lost and confused until he learns how to listen to “The River“. Vasudeva and Siddhartha, “both listened silently to the water, which to them was not just water, but the voice of life, the voice of Being, the voice of perpetual Becoming,” (Hesse, Siddhartha). Siddhartha was once lost in life, not knowing which path was the best to take, however his knowledge of listening has cleared up that path. Listening to the river ended up being a massive step towards his enlightenment.
Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai,” theme of the water wheel shows the constant flow of water (life) and its unending cycle. Kikuchiyo of the seven was orphaned as the child of a farmer. He ended up as a samurai, dying while protecting the baby of a village who was also orphaned. He lashed out at his fellow samurai, criticizing them. Kikuchiyo’s realization ended up confirming what he thought as true. It is implied in “Seven Samurai” that one cannot escape the endless cycle and instead, it has to be embraced without letting it hinder one’s actions. This leads to Kikuchiyo’s sacrifice of his life for the protection of the farmers.
The Chinese classic text, the Tao Te Ching, is the culmination of the sage Laozi’s thoughts. The Tao Te Ching and its life philosophies are a strong influence and base for many other religions like Buddhism, like Confucianism. The Tao speaks about how one should view life and how they should react to certain events. The Tao suggests that one’s physical body may die, but their Tao will continue on. Laozi believes that by following the Tao, one will continue on after death through Tao even if the physical body were to pass, allowing them to “break” that constant cycle. To live in balance with the universe brings peace and continuation for many.
Each representation of the cycle of life shows different ways to perceive the endless cycle of life. Siddhartha finds his purpose and enlightenment through inner self-realization. Akira Kurosawa’s inescapable cycle, and focusing on the present rather than how to break that cycle. Laozi’s Tao Te Ching and continuing on after death through Tao. There are many options to try and approach the cycle of life with, yet, there isn’t a set way to handle life and life itself can be traveled through many paths. Instead, the best way to change YOUR life is through your personal experiences and build up that view yourself. The inspiration you can find from certain forms of art and beliefs can inspire those thoughts, however, it is impossible to be completely reliant on only one way of changing your life.
2 thoughts on “Is Life Just a Useless, Endless Cycle?”
I like how you say we are all in a cycle of life, but we can change how we see and use this life. I can relate to this because sometimes I feel hopeless and say what is the point if we are in this cycle? I enjoyed this and I was wondering if you figured out what you will do?
I love how you used sources from all the units that we did that module, and how your question is so thought provoking. I also noticed that in every source that you used, it also connected back into you original question, Good job on your post!