Kokoro: The Heart, the Mind, the Essence

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In the book Kokoro, the word kokoro seems to carry a certain vagueness because it’s a foreign word that carries a heavy importance in the book. Since the book did not have a detailed explanation of the word kokoro, I decide to look elsewhere for a definition. In the Dharma Dictionary, it said that kokoro had three meanings, the mind, heart, and essence. It also stated, “Originally, kokoro referred to the beat of the heart, which was considered to be the essential organ of life and the source of all activities. By extension, kokoro refers to all human activities affecting the outside world through intension, emotion, and intellect.” I thought about this quote, and how it might pertain to the book. I found this to be very helpful when analyzing the book to explain how kokoro represents the physical heart, the mind, relationships, and as K himself.

There are a lot of connotations of the physical heart in Kokoro, not just in a spiritual way, but also the physical, blood pumping heart. The Japanese thought of the physical heart as the center of the being, the very essence of that person. When Sensei finally reveals his past to the student he says, “You revealed a shameless determination to seize something really alive from within my very being. You were prepared to rip open my heart and drink at its warm fountain of blood. I was still alive then. I did not want to die. And so I evaded your urgings and promised to do as you asked another day. Now I will wrench open my heart and pour its blood over you. I will be satisfied if, when my own heart has ceased to beat, your beast houses new life.” This excerpt has so much meaning of how important the author, Soseki, thought the heart to be. The beating heart is what keeps you alive, an...

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...ps of the word kokoro and the different aspects of this book. It is just that since the word has so many meanings that it is open to even more interpretations, but I think Soseki wanted it that way. I think he wanted to leave the book open to interpretation because he wanted to keep it alive. Definite things have ends to them, but indefinite things are more mysterious and will stay in the pondering minds of people for many generations. Kokoro is one of those books that we will never truly understand, but like the heart, we can only try to understand it as the words beats within us.

Works Cited

Okumara, Shohaku. "Dharma Dictionary." Buddhadharma Back Issues. 12 Aug. 2010. Web. 19 Apr. 2011. . pg1

Natsume, Sōseki, and Meredith McKinney. Kokoro. New York, NY: Penguin, 2010. Print. Pg 124

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