HnK from an ex-Buddhist perspective
Credit to Noyah @zipperdivision who kickstarted the conversation. He asked me what’s my opinion on hnk’s end game, and I got a few things in mind.
First of all, I studied Theravada (SEA Buddhism) for a decade, while Ichikawa presumably studied Mahayana or zen (East Asia Buddhism). There might be some differences, but I think the basics are similar enough.
It is a blanket statement, but I think one of the core concepts of Buddhism is acceptance. Buddhism was constructed on the idea of being free of suffering, which is Nirvana. Nirvana can be interpreted as being free of Samsara or wheel of existence, to never be reborn and suffer again, or it can be a peaceful state of mind. It works on many levels and to reach it, acceptance is required, whether it is acceptance of suffering, self, change, or the world. Here I’ll talk about the Nirvana that means to be free from Samsara.
Because acceptance plays a significant role in Buddhism, it is also present in the mind of Thai people. The majority of the population are Buddhists. The religion is so ingrained in the culture they cannot be separated. We are highly influenced by its philosophy. I’ll try to explain a part of that philosophy and how it affects our thinking the best I could.
We internalize the idea that things that we can’t change are meant to be. Denying the nature of such things simply feels wrong for us. (i.e. Nothing lasts in this merciless flow of time. Everything is temporary. All humans experience some sort of temptation. etc.) A lot of us take the philosophy as facts. For some, it’s because the spiritual leader said so. For others, it’s because the statements are somewhat true. We believe we shouldn’t cling to the past because that brings suffering. We make peace with shitty situations, sometimes without attempting to improve it.
This Buddhist kind of acceptance frees the mind, but also has its downside when applied to something like a forgotten massacre. Our social hierarchy is rigid, conservative and systemically crushes the people at the bottom, similar to that in hnk, and we accept it.
One misconception of Buddhism is that it’s about oh everything fucking sucks and we’re here for eternity when it’s actually about, yeah, shit sucks, but it’s fine. Let’s find the way that suffer the least.
Back to hnk, in which Buddhist philosophy applies. The gems are so impervious to change. They couldn’t accept that their friends are forever gone. They don’t understand that everything is temporary and they’re pawns in this wheel of existence. They fail at the very first step towards Nirvana.
The gems are trapped in Samsara for first, they’re near immortal. Secondly, even if they do die, they’re reborn again. (I think gems can die from being ground to dust. Inclusions are microorganism after all. That’s why Morga, Goshe, and that chunk of Ruby were reborn.) One day they might be able to reach Nirvana on their own, but their condition makes it extremely difficult to do so. This brings me to another point, which is why sensei refuses to pray for the lunarians.
Noyah mentioned that what if sensei was programmed to break down when humanity is extinct, and suddenly everything fell into place.
Mahayana Buddhism literally translates to a big boat or big vehicle. It’s a branch that can carry more people to Nirvana, which is why Bodhisattva is more relevant in Mahayana than Theravada that is all about salvation via self-betterment. Bodhisattva is supposed to guide people to Nirvana. In this case, sensei was invented as an artificial Bodhisattva, which is the peak of human-selfishness. If he really breaks down, no one will guide the gems, and they will be truly trapped this time. The hope of teaching a race so ignorant of nature is faint, but he doesn’t give up.
My guess is that sensei will give in to the lunarians’ wish eventually. He can’t deny it forever. Then they’ll all be gone, leaving the gems behind to swim in Samsara with no guidance.
However, after experiencing many massive changes that are about to come, everyone will finally learn of acceptance, with Phos being the first. (The first change is most likely learning that their friends can’t be restored. Right now they still have some hope.) They will realize that suffering is a part of life, but they can choose to linger on it or let go. One day, Phos will smile at the fond memory of Antarc instead of blaming themself. This process may take an eternity, but that is exactly what they have.
In the end, either Phos will take sensei’s place as a Bodhisattva, teach other gems of acceptance and show them Nirvana, or every gem will be able to reach Nirvana on their own.
Eternal death might be the answer, but it is a peaceful one.
I have a hunch that this post will raise more questions than it answers if you’re not so familiar with Buddhism. So, feel free to shoot me a message if you want a further explanation.
Meaning behind sensei’s name because I know just enough Pali to translate it.
Vajra Mahametta Ratana Ksitigarbha
So, I’ll assume at this point pretty much everyone knows about Vajra and Ksitigarbha so I’m not going to explain it in length. If you don’t, Vajra is Indra’s weapon. He’s a Hindu god that has some significance in Buddhism. He assisted pre-enlightened Gautama Buddha in Threvada canon. I’m not sure about Mahayana, but I think he’s even more important.
Ksitigarbha is Jizo. If you find a stone statue of a monk in Japan, that’s probably Jizo. He’s a Bodhisattva/monk that’s the protector of lost children. You can find the rest of info on wiki.
Mahametta means great kindness. It is a combination of word Maha and Metta. Maha, like in Mahayana, means great. For example, put it in front of Rajan/Raja and you get Maharaja, which means the great king. Metta means kindness. Mahametta is also a name of a sermon. I can’t find an English translation anywhere and it’s really lengthy. However, the purpose of any Metta sermon is to share kindness or happiness with other beings, whether that being is your friend, your enemy, an animal or an abhorrent creature that’s suffering from its own karma in hell.
Ratana means valuable gemstone or crystal. As far as I know it is a Thai word, but half of the words in this language have a Pali or Sanskrit root. From how it sounds, this one is probably Sanskrit. The connotation of the word Ratana is that it’s not just a gemstone, but something of the highest value. For example: Ratana Sutta in Pali or Ratana Traya (รัตนตรัย) in Thai. Ratana Traya means three jewels that are the core of Buddhism: Buddha, Dharma (his teaching), and his followers which include both monks and regular worshipers.
To summarize, this man is a powerful, artificial Bodhisattva who cares deeply about all beings. It won’t surprise me if he would want to free everyone from Samsara, and not just the souls of humanity. He couldn’t leave his children behind to suffer on their own. But like all parents, departure is inevitable.
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