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An Innocent Mind                                                                                               September 2016

I would like to introduce another poem from Mitsuo Aida:

             Flowers are wonderful

             Because they don’t have tactics like humans

             They just bloom

             They just fall

             I cannot “just do”

             since I am a human

                                                                           Mitsuo

What is he trying to tell us?

I think he wants to tell us “to accept our own destiny and to be grateful; that is the shortcut to happiness.”  What do you think? I remember that I started to work when I was nine years old.  Because my family was poor, I had no choice but to go work.

My first job was at a vegetable shop doing miscellaneous work.  I received a small allowance since I was underage.  Since that time, I have experienced more than 10 part-time jobs.  When I was a middle school student, I delivered milk.  I also worked at a woodworking shop and was a construction laborer and a garbage collector for the city.  On the streets on Christmas Eve, I even sold Baumkuchen, a popular German snack.

Although I worked various jobs, I never spent the money on myself.  I gave the sealed envelope with money to my mother as soon as I received it.  It was my great joy to see my mother receiving the money with big smile and saying, “Thank you!”  That was just it.  It was very natural for me to give money to my mother since I knew our family was poor.  I understood that was my circumstance from a very young age.

My father was also a very hard worker.  He was an electric welder at the US Navy base maintenance shipyard in Yokosuka, Japan.  The US Navy allowed employees two days off every week, unlike Japanese companies back then, but I did not know that until I became a young adult.  I had always believed that Sunday was the only day off my father had.  In reality, my father was working at the welding factory in Yokosuka City on Saturdays in order to support our family of six.

As I said before, I delivered milk when I was about 13 years old.  Every morning I got up at 5 AM and started delivery at 6 AM after some preparation at the milk shop.   At that age, my body needed more sleep and I wanted to stay in bed as much as I could.  So, my mother had to wake me up everyday.  She patiently repeated, “Hey, big boy, it’s time to get up!”  And then I went to work defiantly.  It was hard for me to get up early for my job, but I realize now that it was even harder for my mother to wake me up every morning.  Everyone in my family was helping each other to strive back then. Although I gave all the money I earned to my mother, I gained wonderful experiences that money cannot buy.  And all those experiences made me who I am today.  I truly am grateful.  I feel it was my fate; no, rather Buddha’s arrangement for me.

Let’s go back to Mitsuo Aida’s poem:

               Flowers are wonderful

               Because they don’t have tactics like humans

What are tactics of humans?  They are our minds that calculate that this is advantageous or disadvantageous, or I like this or I don’t like that.

              They just bloom

              They just fall

Flowers bloom as beautiful as possible, and then they fall when the time comes by accepting what is next.

               I cannot “just do”

              since I am a human

Since we cannot accept our fate, we have to struggle. I take the message from Mitsuo Aida as, “We will be happy if we accept our fate like flowers do” and “I want to be the type of person who doesn’t always seek gain for myself.”

“Do the best you can if you have to do it” are the words of Seikan Kobayashi, who is a Japanese inspirational writer.   Seikan Kobayashi and Mitsuo Aida.  These awakened people are trying to tell me the same message; the importance of accepting our fate.

While I was a working student, I did not know about the words of Mitsuo Aida nor Seikan Kobayashi.  But when I encountered their words, I realized that I had a wonderful life, which I owe to my parents.   I appreciate our financial hardship; because of it, I did not even have a choice of liking or disliking things.

There might be a life to live continuously cursing your own fate.  But, there is another way of life where you accept your own destiny and be grateful.  Which life would you choose?

Thank you, and Gassho

 

2014 Rissho Kosei-kai of San Francisco Buddhist Dharma Center. All rights reserved.
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