A Yearning Yarn of "Silk"

by Shen Shi'an, The Buddhist Channel, Nov 18, 2007

Dharma-Inspired Movie Review: www.silkmovie.com

SIngapore -- "Silk" tells a meditative tale of a married French man's infatuation with a lady in Japan. She was the mistress of another, thus a forbidden love for him. Yet all she was to him was more a concept than a person, having only stolen a few prolonged glances at her, having been once lightly caressed by her in a bath.

He had never touched her, and never really communicated with her. He did not even speak or understand her language. All he had were supposedly letters from her, in Japanese, which had to be translated to be understood.

Upon returning home, he still pines for her. She had become a persistent "ghost" that haunts, but only as much as he was attached to "it". His wife comes to realise this in time, but never lets him know, as she continues loving him. He drifts away to become an absent husband, despite the down to earth presence of his forgiving wife.

With no word from his "love interest" for a long time, he receives a letter in Japanese one day, speaking of how the few precious moments of "togetherness" were enough for eternity, that it was time to let go.

His wife later falls gravely ill and passes away... and he comes to realise that the last letter was asked to be written for him by his wife, who could see his suffering from attachment to the unattainable. In a way, the letter was also a love letter of farewell for him by his wife.

In this sense, it was no forgery or deceit. So loving was his wife that she decided to use the letter to console him of the loss of his virtual "mistress". He is tragically left all alone in the end with neither "loves", regretting of how he did not cherish his wife, who was always there for him, even if waiting in his "absence".

Who you do not really know, you cannot really love. For what is loved is but an ethereal illusion of your deluded perception. Who do we love? Those who look lovely, or those who are loving, or those who deserve love? And who does not? Which is why the truest of love is for all. Love might easily be mixed with lust, but it need not be. And how easy it is to mistaken the lust for love. Even if there is strong karmic affinity, it might be lust, not love - at first sight. It is also easy to become "long-sighted" with longing, to lose sight of those already around us. As long as there is uncurbed craving, even the love of your life by your side is never enough.

Yet even those who love us truly, whom we love truly, are still transient, not much different from our subjects of infatuation - other than offering more fulfilling relationships. How then, should we love? As Stonepeace put it, "Because everything changes from moment to moment, we should treasure everything in this moment. Because everything changes from moment to moment, we should not be attached to anything in this moment." This might seem like a paradoxically impossible task. How do we treasure those we love without attachment? Is it not self-contradictory?

The Buddha himself practised this perfectly. He treasured the presence of his disciples greatly, be they in good health or ill, but when some inevitably pass away before he entered parinirvana, he was never sorrowful. Why so? Is he heartless? No. Nothing else would be further from the truth.

Out of perfect love, he knew he had already given them the best he had to offer - his perfect compassion and wisdom, which inspired them towards liberation. There was simply no need to weep. Likewise, we will have no need to weep either - as long as we treasure those with us with as little attachment as possible. Challenging perhaps, but practice does makes perfect! Not only is this possible, it is the only way to true love.