The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, by Yukio Mishima

Kinkaku-Ji, Kyoto

First Edition Provenance: Mishima, Yukio. 金閣寺 Kinkaku-Ji . Tokyo: Shinchosha, 1956. Print.

Excerpt Provenance: Mishima, Yukio. The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. First American Edition. Trans. Ivan Morris. New York: Knopf, 1959. Print.

Introduction to the Selection from The Temple of the Golden Pavilion – by Aaron Goldstein:

The impressive volume of literary works Yukio Mishima authored in his brief and extremely prolific career reveal an ongoing obsession with the attainment of beauty and purity in the midst of a profane and imperfect world. However, these writings encompass only part of a much greater aesthetic preoccupation, which extended into other realms of a remarkable and eccentric life as a playwright, film actor, literary critic, model, bodybuilder, swordsman, and would-be armed revolutionary. Mishima’s polymathic self-cultivation through artistic/literary and bodily/athletic pursuits stemmed from his reverence for the mythic way of life of the warrior, an idealized figure from Japan’s past. In his writings, Mishima lamented the deterioration of this approach to life, which he felt had been suppressed or lost during the country’s demilitarization, Westernization, and economic boom in the post-war era.

 

Yukio MishimaYukio Mishima

Reacting to what he saw as a society in decline, Mishima crafted narratives which attacked the profane and superficial aspects of contemporary Japanese society and glorified the austerity and stoicism (as well as violence and heroic self-sacrifice) of the warrior, traits he sought to mirror in his own life and public image (Mishima was frequently photographed shirtless, brandishing a katana). Of particular interest to Mishima was the idea of death in the prime of one’s life – at the peak of physical fitness and beauty – which he explored in his later works (including his last novel, Runaway Horses, and short story “Patriotism”) and eventually enacted himself at the age of 45. In 1967, three years before his death, Mishima published an extensive commentary on the Hagakure, an 18th-century treatise on the conduct of the warrior, advocating for military preparedness during peacetime. Mishima saw a direct parallel between the decline of the samurai as warriors during the peaceful period in which the Hagakure was written and the demise of Japanese Imperial rule during his lifetime. A year after publishing the commentary, as his beliefs grew more radical and his hatred for Japanese society more severe, Mishima founded the Tatenokai or “Shield Society,” a right-wing paramilitary group devoted to reinstating Imperial rule. Through literary production and political agitation, Mishima sought to deliver Japan from its passivity and complacency into a renewed age of Imperial dominance. These heroic aspirations culminated in a failed coup d’etat and a botched ritual disembowelment (seppuku) by his own sword (ever media-conscious, Mishima arranged for this brutal sequence to be photographed).

Mishima published The Temple of the Golden Pavilion in Japan in 1956, six years after the Kinkaku-Ji, a 14th century Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, was burned down by a disturbed acolyte. When asked at his trial why he had burned the four hundred year old temple, which had emerged unscathed from the Second World War, the young monk proclaimed that he hated all objects of beauty. The event made a significant impression on Mishima, who interpreted the acolyte’s arson as an individual’s struggle to reconcile the flawless beauty of the sacred temple with profanity of the modern world, as well as his own imperfections. Upon realizing the impossibility of this task, the young monk developed a hatred for beauty, prayed for the destruction of the temple and, when it did not arrive, drove himself to destroy it. Mishima’s fictionalized account of the incident, related by the acolyte Mizoguchi, traces the protagonist’s evolving psychology and descent into a final irreversible resolve to burn the temple in order to protect it.

 

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Still from Temple of the Golden Pavilion (1976), directed by Yoichi Takabayashi

 

Relative to major characters in Mishima’s earlier, semi-autobiographical literary works, the flawed, detached Mizoguchi is an atypical protagonist. Nonetheless, parallels may be drawn between the author and the narrator, whose acute awareness of his own physical repulsiveness and stammering speech is matched by an uncontrollable desire for the temple’s elusive beauty, which makes his imperfections unbearable. Like Mizoguchi, Mishima’s desire for mental and physical perfection grew from perpetual insecurity towards personal abnormality. Critics have speculated that Mishima’s ultra-masculine, warrior-like public image was a manifestation of a conflicted private life and past, and compensation for weakness in earlier life. Mishima spent a large part of his early childhood in the custody of his aristocratic grandmother who forbade her frail grandson from engaging in physical activity. Mishima’s father actively discouraged his son’s literary efforts, deeming them overly-effeminate. Mishima continued to write, adopting a pseudonym in order to evade his father. Mizoguchi’s relentless criticism of the profane world, which he holds at a permanent distance, recalls Mishima’s occupation of a similar position during his literary career. The protagonist’s destructive end attains heightened meaning when viewed alongside the author’s eventual self-destruction.

From his detached vantage point, Mizoguchi witnesses a series of corrupt acts involving temple personnel which intrude into the sacred terriroty of the temple. In one scene, Mizoguchi spies the enigmatic and hedonistic Father Dosen, the temple superior, in the Shinkkyogoku district in Kyoto, accompanied by a prostitute. Seeking to anonymously punish the superior, Mizoguchi plants a calling card with the prostitute’s photograph in the superior’s study, and then anxiously awaits a severe punishment which never arrives. The narrator’s single friend, the pontificating student Kashiwagi, distorts traditional Zen proverbs and uses his physical deformity to seduce and manipulate women. After a while, Mizoguchi, too, engages in impure violent conduct, though fully conscious of the cruelty of his actions. A drunken American soldier visiting the temple complex forces Mizoguchi to trample on a pregnant prostitute on the temple grounds, causing her to miscarry. He delivers his ill-gotten payment, two cartons of cigarettes, to a delighted Father Dosen. Each invasion of the profane into the sacred deepens Mizoguchi’s obsession with the temple’s preservation, which can only be brought about through its destruction. He demonstrates an encyclopedics knowledge of temples throughout history which had fallen victim to conflagrations, but knows that the Golden Temple will never meet the same fate. After years of tormenting anticipation, Mizoguchi realizes that he alone must be the agent of the temple’s demise.

For Mizoguchi, the untainted Golden Temple is a refuge from the chaotic and ugly acts of the acolytes, clergy, and tourists. The architecture of the Golden Temple is central to the novel, albeit as an aesthetic and symbolic entity rather than a spatial and material one. Mizoguchi’s understanding of the building verges on fetishism; the formal and sculptural qualities of the object-like structure consume his thoughts. He seldom enters or describes the interior spaces of the sanctuary. Repeated mentions of details – balustrades, pillars, eaves, brackets, ornaments – outweigh descriptions of architectural space. For Mizoguchi, the temple is uninhabitable – an object to be experienced mentally rather than physically. The narrative progresses, the temple transforms in Mizoguchi’s mind from a static edifice into something resembling an architectural model whose appearance and dimensions are endlessly manipulable. Mizoguchi is underwhelmed upon first seeing the Golden Temple, which does not seem to embody any of the ephemeral characteristics promised in his father’s numerous descriptions (as is often the case when one encounters a building after prolonged exposure to idealized representations). It is only when Mizoguchi encounters a glass-enclosed scale model of the temple displayed inside the sanctuary that his faith in the possibility of a perfect architecture is restored. Upon his exposure to the model, Mizoguchi’s understanding of the temple changes; it suggests the possibility of an infinite number of Golden Temples existing at countless scales, one nested within another. In model state, the temple is detached from the contaminations of the real world. Within a vacuum, its beauty may endure forever. In a later scene, Mizoguchi explains a process by which he transforms the temple by superimposing the image he has obsessively etched into his mind onto the actual structure until the virtual and actual merge into a perfect whole.

 

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Models at different scales, from Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, (1985), directed by Paul Schrader

 

Aspects of the actual Kinkaku-Ji structure promote readings of the building as a model; the uniform gold leaf coating on the upper two levels of the sanctuary make the building’s scale somewhat ambiguous, and the doubling of the structure in the adjacent reflection pond gives the temple a gravity-less quality. Unsurprisingly, models feature prominently in various film adaptations of the novel, especially the 1985 American-Japanese film Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. A caricatured Golden Temple exists at an intermediate scale – slightly taller than the actors, it is either a huge model or a tiny building. The model is operable, its halves swinging open before Mizoguci to reveal a solid gold interior (rather than voids of rooms), reinforcing the understanding. In a later scene, Mizoguchi confesses his obsession with the temple to his peer Kashiwagi as he crushes a miniature wax model of the temple in his hands, proclaiming that he will only be free when the temple is destroyed. With each incarnation and alteration of scale, the temple’s meaning changes. At times, it acts as Mizoguchi’s master, whereas at others, it becomes an object which he can protect, possess, and eventually demolish.

 

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The burned Kinkaku-ji, 1950.

 

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Text and film sources and references:

1. Mishima, Yukio. The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. First American Edition. Trans. Ivan Morris. New York: Knopf, 1959. Print.

2. Stokes, Henry. The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1974. Print.

3. Wright, Daniel. “Peter Wolfe: Yukio Mishima.” The International Fiction Review 18.1 (1990): 44-45. Print.

4. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. Dir. Paul Schrader. Prod. Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas. Warner Brothers, 1985. Film.

5. Kinkaku-Ji. Dir. Yoichi Takabayashi. Japan: Art Theater Guild, 1976. Film.

 

Image sources:

1. Kinkaku-ji, from Supplement to Landscape Gardening in Japan by Josiah Conder; with collotypes by K. Ogawa.

2. Portrait of Yukio Mishima.

3. Temple of the Golden Pavilion (1976), Yoichi Takabayashi.

4.-6. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985).

7. Golden Pavilion after a fire.

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Excerpt One (pages 21-26):

It is no exaggeration to say that the first real problem I faced in my life was that of beauty. My father was only a simple country priest, deficient in vocabulary, and he taught me that “there is nothing on this earth so beautiful as the Golden Temple.” At the thought that beauty should already have come into this world unknown to me, I could not help feeling a certain uneasiness and irritation. If beauty really did exist there, it meant that my own existence was a thing estranged from beauty.

But for me the Golden Temple was never simply an idea. The mountains blocked it from my sight, yet, if I should want to see it, the temple was always there for me to go and see. Beauty was thus an object that one could touch with one’s fingers, that could be clearly reflected in one’s eyes. I knew and I believed that, amid all the changes of the world, the Golden Temple remained there safe and immutable.

There were tirnes when I thought of the Golden Temple as being like a small, delicate piece of workmanship that I could put in my hands; there were times, also, when I thought of it as a huge, monstrous cathedral that soared up endlessly into the sky. Being a young boy, I could not think of beauty as being neither small nor large, but a thing of moderation. So when I saw small, dew-drenched suminer flowers that seemed to emit a vague light, they seemed to me as beautiful as the Golden Temple. Again, when the gloomy, thunder-packed clouds stood boldly on the other side of the hills, with only the edges shining in gold, their magnificence reminded me of the Golden Temple. Finally it caine about that even when I saw a beautiful face, the simile would spring into my Inind: “lovely as the Golden Temple.”

It was a sad journey. The Maizuru-line trains went from West Maizuru to Kyoto by way of Ayabe and stopped at all the small stations like Makura and Uesugi. The carriage was dirty, and when we reached the Hozu Ravine and began to go through one tunnel after another, the smoke poured in mercilessly and made Father cough again and again. Most of the passengers were connected in one way or another with the Navy. The third-class carriages were full of relatives who were on their way back from visiting petty officers, sailors, marines, and arsenal workers stationed in Maizuru. I looked out of the window at the cloudy, leaden spring sky. I looked at the robe that Father wore over his civilian uniform, and at the breast of a ruddy young petty officer, which seemed to leap up along his row of gilt buttons. I felt as if I were situated between the two men. Soon, when I reached the proper age, I would be called into the forces. Yet I was not sure that even when I was called up, I would be able to live faithfully by my duty, like that petty officer in front of me. In any case, for the present I was situated squarely between two worlds. Although I was still so young, I was conscious, under my ugly, stubborn forehead, that the world of death which my father ruled and the world of life occupied by young people were being brought together by the mediation of war. I myself would probably become an intermediary. When I was killed in the war, it would be clear that it had not made the slightest difference which path I had chosen of the two that now lay before my eyes.

I tried to look after my father when he coughed. Now and then I caught sight of the Hozu River outside the window. It was a dark-blue, almost heavy color, like the copper sulfate used in chemistry experiments. Each tirne that the train emerged from a tunnel, the Hozu Ravine would appear either some considerable distance from the tracks or unexpectedly close at hand. Surrounded by the smooth rocks, it turned its dark-blue lathe round and round. Father had some pure white rice balls in his lunch box and he felt ashamed of opening it in front of the other people in the carriage.

“It’s not black-market rice,” he announced. “It comes from the good hearts of my parishioners. I can eat it with joy and gratitude.”  He spoke so that everyone in the carriage could hear him, but when he actually began eating, he was barely able to finish one rather small rice ball. I did not feel that this ancient sooty train was really bound for the city. I felt that it was headed for the station of death. Once this thought had come into my mind, the smoke that filled our carriage each tilne that we passed through a tunnel had the smell of the crematorium.

Despite it all, when finally I stood before the Somon Gate of the Rokuonji, my heart was throbbing. Now I was to see one of the most beautiful things in the world.  The sun was beginning to go down and the hills were veiled in mist. Several other visitors were passing through the gate at about the same time as Father and I. On the left of the gate stood the belfry, surrounded by a cluster of plum trees, which were still in bloom.  A great oak tree grew in front of the Main Hall. Father stood in the entrance and asked for admission. The Superior sent a message that he was busy with a visitor and asked us if we would wait for a while .

“Let’s use this time to go round and look at the Golden Temple,” said Father.

Father evidently wanted to show me that he exerted some influence in this place and he tried to go through the visitors‘ entrance without paying the admission fee . But both the man who sold tickets and religious charms and the ticket collector at the gate had changed since the time, some ten years earlier, when Father used to come often to the temple.

“Next time I come,” said Father with a chilly expression, “I suppose they’ll have changed again.”  But I felt that Father no longer really believed in this “next time.”

I hurried ahead of Father, almost running. I was deliberately acting like a cheerful young boy. (It was only at such times – only when I put on a deliberate performance – that there was anything boyish about me.) Then the Golden Temple, about which I had dreamed so much, displayed its entire form to me most disappointingly.

I stood by the edge of the Kyoko Pond, and on the other side of the water the Golden Temple revealed its facade in the declining sun. The Sosei was half hidden farther to the left. The Golden Temple cast a perfect shadow on the surface of the pond, where the duckweed and the leaves from water plants were floating. The shadow was more beautiful than the building itself. The setting sun was making the reflection of the water wave to and fro on the back of the eaves of all three stories. Compared to the surrounding light, the reflection of the back of the eaves was too dazzling and clear; the Golden Temple gave me the impression that it was proudly bending itself back.

“Well, what do you think?” said Father. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it? The first story is called the

Hosui-in, the second is the Choondo, and the third is the Kukyocho.” Father placed his ill, emaciated hand on my shoulder.  I changed my angle of vision a few tirnes and bent my head in various directions . But the temple aroused no emotion within me. It was merely a small, dark, old, three-storied building. The phoenix on top of the roof looked like a crow that had alighted there for a rest.  Not only did the building fail to strike me as beautiful, but I even had a sense of disharmony and restlessness. Could beauty, I wondered, be as unbeautiful a thing as this?  If I had been a modest, studious boy, I should have regretted my own deficiency in aesthetic appreciation before becoming so quickly discouraged as I did. But the pain of having been deceived by something of which I had expected so much robbed me of all other considerations.

It occurred to me that the Golden Temple might have adopted some disguise to hide its true beauty. Was it not possible that, in order to protect itself from people, the beauty deceived those who observed it? I had to approach the Golden Temple closer; I had to remove the obstacles that seemed ugly to my eyes; I had to examine it all, detail by detail, and with these eyes of mine perceive the essence of its beauty. Inasmuch as I believed only in the beauty that one can see with one’s eyes, my attitude at the tirne was quite natural.

With a respectful air Father now led me up to the open corridor of the Hosui-in. First I looked at the skillfully executed model of the Golden Temple that rested in a glass case. This model pleased me. It was closer to the Golden Temple of my dreams. Observing this perfect little image of the Golden Temple within the great temple itself, I was reminded of the endless series of correspondences that arise when a small universe is placed in a large universe and a smaller one in turn placed inside the small universe. For the first time I could dream. Of the small, but perfect Golden Temple which was even smaller than this model; and of the Golden Temple wnich was infinitely greater than the real building-so great, indeed, that it almost enveloped the world.  I did not, however, remain standing indefinitely before the model. Next Father led me to the wooden statue of Yoshimitsu, which was famous as a National Treasure. The statue was known as the Rokuoninden-Michiyoshi, after the name that Yoshimitsu adopted when he took the tonsure.  This, too, struck me as being nothing but an odd, sooty image and I could sense no beauty in it. Next we went up to the Choondo on the second story and looked at the painting on the ceiling, attributed to Kano Masanobu, which depicted angels playing music. On the third story, the Kukyocho, I saw the pathetic remains of the gold leaf that had originally covered all the interior. I could find no beauty in any of this. I leaned against the slender railing and looked down absently at the pond, on which the evening sun was shining. The surface of the water looked like a mirror, like an ancient patinated copper mirror; and the shadow of the Golden Temple fell directly on this surface. The evening sky was reflected in the water, far beneath the water plants and the duckweed. This sky was different from the one above our heads. It was clear and filled with a serene light; from underneath and from within, it entirely swallowed up this earthly world of ours, and the Golden Temple sank into it like a great anchor of pure gold that has become entirely black with rust.

 

 

Excerpt Two (pages 44-46)

I can vividly remember the scene. We two boys stood there shoulder to shoulder by the Kyoko Pond in our white shirts and our gaiters. And in front of these two figures, not separated from them by anything, rose the Golden Temple. On this last summer, in these last summer holidays, on the very last day of them – our youth hovered dizzily on the edge . The Golden Temple stood on this same edge, faced us, talked to us. To this extent had the expectation of air raids brought us and the temple closer together.  The hushed sunlight of the late summer decorated the roof of the Kukyocho with golden foil, and the light that poured straight down filled the Golden Temple with a nocturnal darkness. Until now the imperishability of the temple had oppressed me and kept me apart from it; but its imninent destiny of being burned by an incendiary bomb brought it close to our own destiny. It might be that the Golden Temple would be destroyed before we were. At this thought, it seemed to me that the temple was living the same life as we were. The surrounding hills with their red pines were mantled in the cry of the cicadas, as thoughcountless invisible priests were chanting the vocation for the Extinction of Fires: “Gyā gyā,” they sang, “gyākī gyākī, un nun, shifurā shifurā, harashifurā harashifurā!

This beautiful building was before long going to be turned into ashes, I thought. As a result, my image of the Golden Temple gradually came to be superimposed on the real temple itself in all its details, just as the copy that one has made through a piece of drawing-silk comes to be superimposed on the original painting: the roof in my image was superimposed on the real roof, the Sosei on the Sosei that extended over the pond, the railings and the windows of the Kukyocho on those railings and windows. The Golden Temple was no longer an imlnovable structure. It had, so to speak, been transformed into a symbol of the real world’s evancscence. Owing to this process of thought, the real temple had now become no less beautiful than that of my mental image. Tomorrow, for all we knew, fire might rain down from the sky; then those slender pillars, the elegant curves of that roof, would be reduced to ash, and we should never set eyes on them again. But for the present it stood serenely before us in all its fine details, bathing in that light which was like the summer’s fire.

Over the edge of the hills majestic clouds towered up, like those that I had seen out of the corner of my eyes while the sutras were being recited during Father’s funeral. They were filled with a sort of stagnant light and looked down at the delicate structure of the temple. Under this strong summer light, the Golden Temple seemed to lose the various details of its form; it kept the gloomy, cold darkness wrapped inside itself, and with its mysterious outline simply ignored the dazzling world that surrounded it. Only the phoenix on the roof fastened its sharp claws firmly to its pedestal, trying not to stagger under the glare of the sun.

Bored with my lengthy gazing at the temple, Tsurukawa picked up a pebble and with the graceful motion of a pitcher threw it into the center of the shadow that the Golden Temple cast on the Kyoko Pond. The ripples spread out through the duckweed and the beautiful, delicate instantly crumbled to pieces.

 

Excerpt Three (pages 252-255)

For at that moment I gazed at the Golden Temple to bid it a last farewell. The temple was dim in the darkness of the rainy night and its outline was indistinct. It stood there in deep black, as though it were a crystallization of the night itself. When I strained my eyes, I managed to make out the Kukyocho, the top story of the temple, where the entire structure suddenly became narrow, and also the forest of narrow pillars that surrounded the Choondo and the Hosui-in. But the various details of the temple, which had moved me so greatly in the past, had melted away into the monochrome darkness.

As my remembrance of the beauty grew more and more vivid, however, this very darkness began to provide a background against which I could conjure up my vision at will. My entire conception of beauty lurked within this somber, crouching form. Thanks to the power of memory, the various aesthetic details began to glitter one by one out of the surrounding darkness; then the glittering spread wider and wider, until gradually the entire temple had emerged before me under that strange light of tirne itself, which is neither day nor night. Never before had the Golden Temple showed itself to me in so perfect a form, never had I seen it glitter like this in its every detail. It was as though I had appropriated a blind man’s vision. The light that emanated from the temple itself had made the building transparent, and standing by the pond I could vividly see the paintings of angels on the roof inside the Choondo and the remains of the ancient gold foil on the walls in the Kukyocho. The delicate exterior of the Golden Temple had become intilnately mingled with the interior. As my eyes took in the entire prospect, I could perceive the temple’s structure and the clear outline of its motif, I could see the painstaking repetition and decoration of the details whereby this motif was materialized, I saw the effects of contrast and of symmetry. The two lower stories, the Hosui-in and the Choondo, were of the same width and, though there was a slight difference between them, they were protected by the same extensive eave; one story rested on top of its companion, so that they looked like a pair of closely related dreams or like memories of two very similar pleasures that we have enjoyed in the past. These twin stories had been crowned by a third story, the Kukyocho, which abruptly tapered off. And high on top of the shingled roof the gilt bronze phoenix was facing the long, lightless night.

Yet even this had not satisfied the arehitect. At the west of the Hosui-in he had added the tiny Sosei, which projected from the temple like an overhanging pavilion. It was as if he had put all his aesthetic powers into breaking the symmetry of the building. The role of the Sosei in the total architecture was one of metaphysical resistance. Although it certainly did not stretch very far over the pond, it looked as though it were running away indefinitely from the center of the Golden Temple. The Sosei was like a bird soaring away from the main structure of the building, like a bird that a few moments before had spread its wings and was escaping toward the surface of the pond, toward everything that was mundane. The significance of the Sosei was to provide a bridge that led between the order which controls the world and those things, like carnal desire, which are utterly disordered. Yes, that was it. The spirit of the Golden Temple began with this Sosei, which resembled a bridge that has been severed at its halfway point; then it formed a three-storied tower; then once more it fled from this bridge. For the vast power of sensual desire that shimmered on the surface of this pond was the source of the hidden force that had constructed the Golden Temple; but, after this power had been put in order and the beautiful three-storied tower formed, it could no longer bear to dwell there and nothing was left for it but to escape along the Sosei back to the surface of the pond, back to the endless shimmering of sensual desire, back to its native land. Every time in the past that I had looked at the morning mist or the evening mist as it wandered over the pond I had been struck by this same thought – the thought that this was the dwelling-place of the abundant sensual power that had originally constructed the Golden Temple.

And beauty synthesized the struggles and the contradictions and the disharmonies in every part of this building-and, furthermore, it was beauty that ruled over them all! The Golden Temple had been built with gold dust in the long, lightless night, just like a sutra that is painstakingly inscribed with gold dust onto the dark-blue pages of a book. Yet I did not know whether beauty was , on the one hand, identical with the Golden Temple itself or, on the other, consubstantial with the night of nothingness that surrounded the temple. Perhaps beauty was both these things. It was both the individual parts and the whole structure, both the Golden Temple and the night that wrapped itselfabout the Golden Temple. At this thought I felt that the mystery of the beauty of the Golden Temple, which had tormented me so much in the past, was halfway towards being solved. If one examined the beauty of each individual detail-the pillars, the railings, the shutters, the framed doors, the ornamented windows, the pyramidal roof – the Hosui-in, the Choondo, the Kukyocho, the Sosci-the shadow of the temple on the pond, the little islands, the pine trees, yes, even the mooring-place for the temple boat – the beauty was never completed in any single detail of the temple; for each detail adumbrated the beauty of the succeeding detail. The beauty of the individual detail itself was always filled with uneasiness. It dreamed of perfection, but it knew no completion and was invariably lured on to the next beauty, the unknown beauty. The adumbration of beauty contained in one detail was linked with the subsequent adumbration of beauty, and so it was that the various adumbrations of a beauty which did not exist had become the underlying motif of the Golden Temple. Such adumbrations were signs of nothingness. Nothingness was the very structure of this beauty. Therefore, from the incompletion of the various details of this beauty there arose automatically an adumbration of nothingness, and this delicate building, wrought of the most slender timber, was trembling in anticipation of nothingness, like a jeweled necklace trembling in the wind. Yet never did there come a time when the beauty of the Golden Temple ceased! Its beauty was always echoing somewhere. Like a person who suffers from ringing of the ears, invariably heard the sound of the Golden Temple’s beauty wherever I might be and I had grown accustomed to it. If one compared this beauty to a sound, the building was like a little golden bell that has gone on ringing for five and a half centuries, or else like a small harp. But what if that sound should stop?

I was overcome by intense weariness.

Above the Golden Temple that existed in the darkness I could still vividly see the Golden Temple of my vision. It had not yet concluded its glittering. The railing of the Hosui-in at the water’s edge withdrew with the greatest modesty, while on its eaves the railing of the Choondo, supported by its Indian-style brackets, thrust out its breast dreamily towards the pond. The eaves were illuminated by the pond’s reflection and the flickering of the water reflected itself uncertainly against them. Then the Golden Temple reflected the evening sun or shone in the moon, it was the light of the water that made the entire structure look as if it were mysteriously floating along and flapping its wings. The strong bonds of the temple’s forln were loosened by the reflection of the quivering water, and at such moments the Golden Temple seemed to be constructed of materials like wind and water and flame that are constantly in motion. The beauty of the Golden Temple was unsurpassed.

 

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