All in One, One in All
One Japanese anime I have been privileged to watch, the "remake" of Fullmetal Alchemist known as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which follows the now-completed manga to an unusually faithful degree, has one segment which has distinct Zen overtones.
While still relatively young children, the two brothers at the heart of the story are given a test by the woman they wish to study under to learn the driving force of the show, Alchemy. The two are placed on an uninhabited island in the center of a lake and are to survive for one month, and come back with the meaning to a cryptic phrase: "One, and All."
The would-be teacher had no actual intention of leaving the children truly unattended, placing an employee at her husband-and-wife store on the island to "supervise" and act as a masked marauder making life more difficult for the children (while offering subtle clues as to how they might survive the ordeal). Forced by starvation to learn how to live off the land, the hard realization strikes them that if they die, they will simply return to the soil like everything else; the world will move on without their lives. They are not separate from the world around them; as the old English poem states, "No man is an island."
This also led to another thought: both of them were also part of the world. They had every bit as much right to live as other living beings. They used plants for shelter and firewood. They ate ants, caught fish, and apologized to the next cute bunny they caught before regretfully killing it for food. The brothers knew from experience that if they did not eat, something else would: a fox caught a rabbit that got away, feeding it to her own young. That is the way of nature.Continued on the next page