Collected translations of Maaya Sakamoto news, essays, interviews, and articles


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Part 51 of 68 in a series:

The universe has been on my mind as of late.

On hearing this some may think I sound like an occultist or someone who hears signals from space, but since by “the universe” I mean nothing more than the place where we live, I don’t think it’s that unusual.

My math and physics tests never came back with anything but failing marks, so while I don’t understand the intricate details, it would seem to me that recently it’s become possible to measure numerous things, and the mysteries of the universe are steadily being unraveled. Faraway stars are spoken of as if someone had seen them up close, and such things as how frequently planets cross paths, the distances between and sizes of stars, and how the universe came to exist are pretty much understood. Such is how things are now.

And here am I, comprehending these facts as I flip through a visual guide to the universe. But “comprehending” and “knowing” are two different things.

For whatever reason it’s hard to believe, though I can’t justify this opinion. I imagine long ago someone who was told, “The Earth is round, you know,” would have reacted in a like manner—“That’s ludicrous! Have you seen it yourself?!” No one was around to watch the beginning of the universe, and I find it perplexing that even when no one knows what really happened, we can still come up with an answer.

I can actually find similar things in my daily life.

For instance, as I write words such as these, I must convert the threads of emotion and thought in my brain to written Japanese. But it’s ridiculous to expect that by simply picking and arranging the words closest to the undefined, shapeless, nebulous things in my mind I’ll arrive at a perfect expression of my thoughts. Japanese may be an expressive language, but there are limits to its expressiveness. As I write lyrics, at times I struggle to find a Japanese word that precisely expresses my feelings. Put another way, the only person in this world who can truly and fully understand what I want to say and what I feel is me and me alone.

But this is lonesome, and my desire to convey my thoughts drives me to express myself. Yet even then I’ll never know whether my thoughts are received as I intended, since the person who empathizes and says, “I know,” is the only person in this world who knows what and how she knows what she knows.

Um, am I getting too complicated?

The conclusion I reached is this. The universe, along with those undefined things within you, are one and the same. Your Self shares a mysterious, incomprehensible existence with the universe. So we attach names, run numbers, give reasons, and reach a point where we can say we “know” quite a bit. We do this because we seek comfort in a shared understanding with others.

But the true answer exists in only one place—in you. This thing too vague to be pinned down by someone’s laws or formulas is what I imagine carries each of us. For this very reason I believe you have to turn your ear to the voice inside you and constantly try to discover what you long for and feel. I can’t explain it well, but the reason the universe’s enigmas captivate so many people may well link to the depths of your Self.

To know yourself is to see the universe’s truth.


Part 51 of 68 in a series: