The Harp of Burma
The Harp of Burma refers to the children’s novel written by Michio Takeyama in view from the Japanese army as regarded World War II. In the storyline, a Japanese soldier, Mizushima, was a harp player in Captain Inouye’s battalion. After being sheltered in one of the villages, they realized that the British soldiers were watching them. After retrieving their ammunition, their captain encourages them to sing, clap, and laugh as a decoy from the realization of their presence. Soon, they learn that the war had ended and they surrender to the British. At the camp, Mizushima is ordered to talk to fighting troops on a mountain. On trying to convince them to surrender, they disagree and beat him unconscious. As the survivor from a bombing, he shaves his head as a disguise and finds several corpses where he decides to bury them. He abandons the call from his captain as he seeks promotion of peace, nature of humanity while studying as a monk. Mizushima’s actions at the time of war were significant to Buddhist beliefs in humanity, peace, and value for life.
At the height of Burmese war, possession of the land was critical to all the stakeholders in the struggles. At the time, Captain Inouye was under authority from the Japanese masters to enable quick succession and enactment of the takeover process (Ichikaya 12). Having witnessed the outmuscle effect from the British forces, surrender was the only viable option in order to preserve lives of the soldiers at the battle lines. Mizushima was aware of the ongoing struggle and the dilapidated nature of the outcomes. His intention in enabling the soldiers to surrender signified the essence of preserving human life. By playing of the harp and avoidance of the unavoidable circumstance of battle, it was significant to dignity and value of life despite the resistance.
After the bombing of the area, Mizushima was the sole survivor amidst the whole battalion that was present at the mountain. He tried to surrender on their behalf to no avail, leading to his unconscious state after receiving a beating. A monk helped him recover from the injuries and we can attribute the profound value for humanity through such actions. It is amplified by his decision to offer the dead soldiers dignified burial rather than heading home with Captain Inouye and the rest. Yeh (9) argues that his persistence can be attributed to acquired values after witnessing his personal help from the monk. The Japanese youth can be deciphered as being tolerant and considerate, despite the pressure on their availed responsibilities, as soldiers on national assignments.
The Harp of Burma readers are modeled by values that recognize the efforts of humanity. Mizushima was a soldier and followed authoritarian rule at the time of dispensation and frontline of battle. Despite the patriotic expectations placed on his responsibilities, he did not abandon humanity through his beliefs and actions. The decision he attempted of convincing the soldiers into retreat exemplify his nature. Therefore, the significant lesson to the readers is on maintenance of such values despite the confounding circumstances and surrounding at all times. His life would have been lost, but he did not falter in the process. The approach is vital in cultivation of steadfast determination and willingness on sacrifice for the good cause of humanity at all times.
Mizushima’s decision to defy the orders from his seniors and disguise as a monk held significant lessons to the readers. On a negative downturn to the decision made, the Japanese youth are symbolized as being disobedient and not keen followers of instruction or command. However, the overall effect is countered when Mizushima had to disguise himself by stealing the monk’s rob in order to avoid being spotted as a soldier. His intention was to determine the fates of his colleagues at the volatile time. The value lesson depicted to the readers is of the result-oriented nature in their pursuit for peaceful humankind (Gabbard 3). The readers should embrace all means possible in delivering their pursuit of making humanity better than before. Sacrifice is the ultimate goal.
In deliberation of the Buddhist beliefs, they are divided into existence through suffering, suffering contains a cause, there is cessation of suffering, and the path followed through cessation of suffering. The above beliefs enable understanding of Mizushima’s decision especially at the height of the battle. Mizushima’s decision not to head back and pursue peaceful humankind and studies of a monk show that there is existence through suffering and it has a cause. His own testimony as a soldier showed the suffering he underwent when he almost lost his life at the battlefield and when he was on the verge of being eaten. The cause was for realization on the values of humanity and peaceful nature.
The logic of Buddhist beliefs is contained in the path to cessation as depicted by Mizushima. Despite the promise of freedom and safe return to his homeland after the British takeover, he decided not to abandon the cause of humanity. His path was laden with suffering and physical degradation from the events. Even still, he did not deter from the pursuit of promoting peaceful humanity and values therein. In accordance with the Buddhist values and beliefs, the path is significant in achieving the basis of life. Te relationship between actions and their effects give impetus to the derivative karma that can befall anyone. It enables a rebirth of the mental capacity and thoughtful process in promotion of humanitarian values despite the cost associated with them.
Basing on the historical, political, and economic basis of Japan after the World War II, Mizushima’s decision was significant in many ways. The dropping of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was instrumental in application of peaceful processes that enabled culmination of the war. Several lives, property, and unwarranted losses were realized in the process, while lasting effects were contained to the present day. Green (7) argues that dignity of humanity was at stake and peace had to prevail at such a crucial time in the history of the war. All the efforts and sacrifices that were undertaken enabled achievement of the peace process as humanity was at stake. In the end, the cessation of the suffering was vindicated by the warring groups.
Mizushima’s actions at the time of
war were significant to Buddhist beliefs in humanity, peace, and value for
life. Having served as a soldier under the command of Captain Inouye, his decision
not to accompany the battalion home in order to bury the soldiers was
significant even to the Buddhist beliefs, his outright seeking of peaceful humanity
and studies of being a monk resonated with achievement of important values. As
an ideal significance, his decisions enable a thoughtful process for humans in
delivery of life preservation and promotion of peace.
Gabbard, Ralph. “The Buddhist Ethic.” Journal of Global Buddhism, 1.2 (2013): 1-7. Print.
Green, Allen. “The Harp of Burma and Significance.” Journal of Burma Studies, 1 (2006): 1-23. Print.
Ichikawa, Kon. The Burmese Harp. Tokyo, S.l.: Eureka, 2012.
Yeh, Theresa. “The Way to Peace: A Buddhist Perspective.” International Journal of Peace Studies, 11.1 (2006): 1-22. Print.