Sunday, October 10, 2010

Earnest living brings enlightenment

    This is a story about an old man who lived alone in a small village that was about to be abandoned. This old man who is about to become ninety years old lived with his son for several years in the city. He knew it was less trouble for everyone if he had stayed at his son’s house until the end of his life. It was better for his family and himself. But the city life was not easy for him. If he went out, the busy traffic scared him. He couldn’t do his favorite farm work. All he could do was to stay home and watch TV. But now that his sight and hearing has become poor, he couldn’t really understand what was going on either. Life in the city wasn’t enjoyable at all. He was inside the house all day starting to wish he could die soon. He couldn't stand the city life anymore and in spite of his son’s opposition he decided to go back to his hometown, the small northern village.

     From then, the earnest living of this old man started. He was absolutely isolated. One fall could be fatal. There was no one to help him or even notice him. He had to be very careful every step of the way. Everyday, he was committed to think this might be his last day.

     Every morning he would get up at dawn and think what to eat. He cooks his own breakfast. Once he’s finished with his meal, he starts cleaning the rooms. Then it's time to cook lunch. After lunch, he goes out to the field to take care of his farm.  Late afternoon, he starts the fire to take a bath. Once he’s finished eating dinner, he is exhausted and goes right to sleep. He cannot watch TV and he doesn’t talk to anyone all day. He was committed to his daily work and he so enjoyed it. He said, “I look at my life from the point of dying. And when I was able to wake up in the morning, I am already in gratitude that I am still alive. And everything around me, the farm, the mountains, they all look so beautiful. They look radiant even with my poor sight.

     His life itself is Zen. He is working and meditating at the same time. You don’t have to pay a lot of money just to sit in the right position and learn about “how to meditate. “ That is only a fun hobby for the people who have time to waste. Just by sitting, nothing is going to happen. It will only take you to the wrong side of the universe.

     When you become truly grateful from the bottom of your heart that you are led to live, you will start to feel the nature spirits. You will start to understand and feel the vibes from others.

     This is kanagara (being in one with the universe, with Kami, with all the nature). It’s about living and doing your daily chores. Having an ordinary life in gratitude. In other words, if you take the fact that you are alive for granted, you will not be able to feel the senses you ought to be sensing. You will always be dissatisfied with yourself and make wrong decisions over and over again.

     Even in the crowded big city, if you can look at your life being in gratitude that you are led to live, you will have a great life. You don’t need the beautiful natural surroundings to be enlightened. As long you are consciously in gratitude, you will come to a realization wherever you are.

Ikashite-itadaite arigato-gozaimasu
Thank you for letting us live

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