We arrived at our Bodhi Day place mid-afternoon today. It’s very wintry, cold, and there’s much snow. But sunny weather is forecast for Friday and partly cloudy for Bodhi Day on Saturday. Our place has a wonderfully wide open Eastern view, so if it’s not cloudy, we should have a great view of Venus in the morning.
However, between my foot that started to swell last night for some reason and all the snow, I probably will not be able to hike to my Bodhi spot this year. So, things will not work out as I had planned.
“Planned” is the key word. The Zen master, Mike Tyson once said of plans, “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.”
With all of the brilliant writers, philosophers, scientists, etc, throughout all of history, I’m hard-pressed to think of a more profound observation or a more poetic phrasing. It’s something I often say to my project manager – no disrespect intended … hahaha!
On the way to the Bodhi Place, we made a couple of stops to perform Bodhi Day services.
One place was the Minidoka Internment camp. I questioned whether to write about this since it could bring up things that should stay in the past – which is a pretty inappropriate thing to do on Bodhi Day. We only stopped by to conduct a service blessing all of the souls who stayed there – not just Buddhists, but all of the prisoners as well as the guards, and those who ordered it. I’m sure it was terrible for everyone.
But Mrs. Hanamoku mentioned that they all moved on with their lives and prospered, proud to have done what it seemed the U.S. Government thought needed to be done at the time and place. Hakuin, the Zen master, would have been very pleased with this testament to “Is that so?”
I’ve written an updated version of Hakuin’s “Is that So?” story for software developers, it’s the second of the Three Zen Stories forming the foundation for the teachings of the Eternal Fishnu. But I love to tell it so I’ll write down a more traditional version here (not link or copy/paste) as a meditation for me:
Once there was a nobleman’s daughter who became pregnant out of marriage to a man in the village. When she told her boyfriend of this, he denied it could be possible and sent her away.
When the woman’s pregnancy became too hard to conceal, to protect her boyfriend, she blamed it on the mysterious monk who lived in the mountains, Hakuin (pronounced ha-koo-een).
Once the child was born, the woman and her father hiked into the mountain to force Hakuin to take his responsibility. “This is yours!! You take it!”, her father demanded, handing over the child.
All Hakuin said was , “Is that so?”, and gently took the child.
A few years passed. Hakuin cared very well for the child as well as he would his own. But the child’s real father had a change of heart. He proposed to the woman and they went to get the child from Hakuin.
“Give us that baby! It’s ours!”, they demanded.
All Hakuin said was , “Is that so?”, and gently handed over the child.
Most of you are probably thinking, “WTF!?” What a stupid story! Shouldn’t Hakuin demand compensation for the child’s care? Or maybe he’s grown very attached to the child? Or better yet, shouldn’t he have slammed the door on the woman and her father in the first place?
In the mindset of most of us in the “Western” world, the answer is most likely “yes”. And perhaps that is the right answer. But this isn’t a matter of right or wrong. This is a matter of a very fully-focused life without suffering. A fully-focused life where we’re always present, not detached, from the Universe.
Hakuin is 100% accepting of what is right in front of him – blending with the flow of everything – very much like David in Psalm 23. However, as Judo or Jujitsu is neither a matter of total domination of your opponent nor being completely limp, there is a middle ground.
Total domination doesn’t work. There is always someone better than you. If not directly better (such as better than you at programming C#), maybe pretty good at C#, but also R, Python, and SQL, and will outflank you rather than go head to head at your game.
Being totally limp, giving up completely, doesn’t work either. You’ll never learn anything, never advance. But the “middle-ground” doesn’t mean “kind of aggressive but not too aggressive” – as in Goldilocks’ porridge.
In Buddhism, the “middle ground” is a very different concept from that. Rather, it means to let go of everything you cling to, empty your mind of all you think you know and what you think you want. Be fully, 100% accepting of what is. Embrace it and dance with it.
Remember, all things pass. If you accept what is, even if it seems crappy to your normal mind, in the long run, you won’t know suffering.
Faith and Patience to You!
Reverend Dukkha Hanamoku
Links to the other posts belonging to this set of Bodhi Day 2018 posts:
- Tomorrow Begins the Secular Bodhi Season of 2018
- Day 1: Secular Bodhi Season 2018 – Buddhism is a Skill
- Day 2: Secular Bodhi Season 2018 – Have a Holly Jolly Bodhi
- Day 3: Secular Bodhi Season 2018 – A Bodhi Day Carol
- Day 4: Secular Bodhi Season 2018 – Our Unique Paths
- Day 5: Secular Bodhi Season 2018 – Traditions
- Day 6: Secular Bodhi Season 2018 – Trip to Our Bodhi Day Place
- Day 7: Secular Bodhi Season 2018 – Bodhi Day Eve
- Bodhi Day 2018!