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Happiness is a matter of perspective

sitting-copyThis is a great little article by Furuya Sensei about happiness being a matter of perspective. Have a great Friday! Isn't It Funny?

When we consider what we have, we are always happy. But somehow, when we begin to think what we don't have, we are never satisfied. Isn't it better not to go there in the first place?

In Zen, there is a well-known saying: "Houken wa te ni ari."

"The Treasure Sword is in your hand." Everyone searches of their "treasure sword" (wisdom) yet, it is something which we already possess in our own hearts.

In the early days of the dojo, we were so poor and many times there was no money at all to even pay the bills. As it often happens, one weekend there was not a penny at all, so I just stayed in the dojo and did not go out or do anything at all. The next day, when I started to do my laundry, I found a ten-dollar bill in my back pocket. I thought I had no money to go out and buy myself some groceries to eat, not knowing the money was there right in my pocket. I could do nothing at all. I was not stopped by the lack of a little money but my lack of "understanding."

More often than not, we have everything we need to be happy but not realizing we already possess this "treasure sword," we are unhappy and complain about this and that.

Spend your days well

archery光陰矢のごとしKouin yanogotoshi "Time flies like an arrow."

Before his passing, Furuya Sensei would often say, "There is no time left." By the time I understood his admonishment, he was gone.  So much time has passed since those times.

Upon realizing his words, the questions arise, "what will we do with our lives?" and "How will we live them?"

If there is truly no time left then life itself as we know is fleeting - It is passing us by as we speak.  Understating this reality in Buddhism is called mujo or impermanence.

To understand budo is to understand death. Death, not in its morbidness, but in its impermanence and this inevitability teaches us how to live our lives. The glass can be either half full or half empty.

To see the fleetingness of life as something bad then we are looking at the glass as half empty. To see the glass as half full, we are realizing how in which to live our lives with what little precious time we have left.

Time does fly like an arrow, but we get to choose how and what we aim it at. What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? Time truly does fly by. Spend your days well for tomorrow may never come.

It can be hard, its supposed to be










The secret to success - Don't give up, just keep going.

Doesn't matter what we are doing or for what reason.  The only way to succeed is to never give up.  In Japanese this is called gaman (我慢).  To gaman is to patiently preserve in order to see something to its end.

It is sooo easy to quit when something become difficult or uncomfortable.  What people who quit don't know is that the obstacle is the path.  The obstacle sheds light on the real path and is there to teach us something about ourselves.  If we quit, then we miss that golden opportunity.

I know it can be hard, its supposed to be.  Only through the challenge can we truly change.



"Don’t use your gifts poorly” - Sawaki Kodo

sawaki kodoSometimes, we find something that says it better than we do.  This case is one of them.  Sawaki Kodo or "Homeless Kodo" was a Soto Zen Buddhist monk who died in 1965.  He was a favorite of Furuya Sensei's and many of his books can be found in Sensei's library. Sawaki Kodo's words, "Don’t use your gifts poorly” really resonate with me.  I hope that his article somehow inspires you.

Good and Bad By Sawaki Kodo

The human race is set apart by their intelligence and their manual dexterity. With these, they can build all sorts of machines. They also like to fight one another and they use language with skill. Put simply, humans have been given many talents. Unfortunately, it seems not many use these faculties well.

The saying goes, “Don’t use your gifts poorly.” I would even say that it is essential to do everything possible to use our talents to the best. A fraud makes bad use of his talents, so does a loan-shark, and so does the man with three sets of holiday homes and mistresses! Each one of us in our own way is an example of badly used talent. Starting with myself, when I look closely I see I am mediocre too. Those whose paths are without error are extremely rare.

Making the best of your abilities-this is to identify yourself with Buddha or God.

I would say that before anything else, you must know yourself to the core. Then make manifest the best in yourself and cut the passions which make us tend to use ourselves poorly. Like this, holding the sharpened sword of wisdom, we climb our own summit, to the peak of light that contains the entire universe. “Seizing the sword of wisdom” means taking human capacities to their highest potential.

One day, a long time ago, someone saw Sariputra urinating in a field. The man who saw him had such a powerful experience that he put his hands together and did sampai. The story says that at that instant he saw the true nature of Buddha.

It seems that just seeing Sariputra in the posture of urinating naturally inspired deep respect. Whether we are doing zazen or reading sutras, we should summon respect. The same goes for all our daily gestures, like eating or urinating, which we don’t generally pay much attention to. This way infinite benefits flow from each instant of our daily life-like dragons and elephants who stomp and play without ever needing to hear the Dharma.

When I look back on my life, I see I could have been anything. When I was young, I thought of doing many different things. Is it just chance that I became a monk and dedicated all my energies to that? I could have worked on the railroads. All day long I’d throw my pick to dig the earth; and when I’d leave at night, I’d drink lots of sake. I would have liked this life, since it would have been my life. I could have been a singer (I don’t know if I’d be any good), or a storyteller. I could have become anything, a good guy, or a crook. A life is like a vise, it can hold this or that, it has many uses. The same goes for illusions or satori.

Mount Fuji is considered a big mountain, but seen from the top of the Himalayas, it seems pretty small. They say the Pacific is huge, but it’s only a part of the globe. Seen from the universe, it looks like a footbath. (It’s not even unfathomable; we know how deep it is). It is difficult to imagine man as a miniscule little animal. Seen with a microscope, an amoeba looks like a diver swimming at the bottom of the sea. She can’t even see the edges of the slide she moves on, to her it’s as big as the Pacific Ocean. To say that something is big or small is to look with a defective vision. It’s up to us to look at our world differently.

What really makes them happy, these little humans in their miniscule little world? They like to have a good time and get presents. They consider a birth a happy event (though it could be a disaster if the baby is deformed or becomes a good for nothing), and that a marriage is cause for congratulations (though they don’t know if the groom won’t end up to be an incurable drunk). Joy and suffering are relative ideas, indefinite and deceiving. Nothing allows anyone to say with any certainty that this event is happy and that one unhappy. The good carries in it the bad, and vice-versa. So:

Truth is without foundation, the root of illusion is empty.

In abandoning having and not having, the non-empty becomes empty.

The whole universe is contained in those two verses.

The good and the bad have never existed. So Shinran’s remark stands true:

Don’t be proud of virtue, Don’t be afraid of the bad.

All humans, without exception, are neither good nor bad.