img src=board/seon/1246406623.jpg border=0 hspace=5 align=left>Few days ago, I opened up a rice vase and found just one bag of rice. When the vase was full, it did not occurred to me but when it was empty, I felt the appreciation for the rice. How precious it was and how thankful it was. The happiness is found in small things. It can easily be overlooked when everything is sufficient. But when we find the shortage, then we realize the need and the value. We realize then how happy we have been due to such existence of small things. True meaning of richness is when one can find the bliss and purity in life even though they possess less. Possessing many things is not being rich. Although you may possess less so you may suffer a little, you are a rich if you find bliss in life with purity in heart.
Known as the last teaching of Buddha, ‘Yumagyung’ writes that, “If you wish to be free from sufferings, know how to be content. Knowing sufficiency is being rich, joyous, and secure. But those who does not know how to be content, living in paradise would not even please them.”
It teaches that one who knows how to be content for what they have may understand true happiness. We all have different measurements and situations. Being thankful for what we have and being content for what we have is the first wise step to blissful life. Those who know how to be thankful for even small things also know how to make others happy too. They are able to make themselves and others peaceful. But those who always have complaints and discontentment, they always make faces and easily get angry.
Naturally they would often make others unhappy too. Then people will slowly avoid them and it will be harder to feel any happiness no matter how circumstances turns out.
One day, a follower asked an old monk a question.
“Is it right to eat meat and drink? Or is it wrong?”
A monk told him, “What to eat or drink is up to you. It is not an answer you need from a monk. But, if you can control what you eat and drink, you will be able to attain fortune.”
His teaching was that fortune does not come by accidents. If you have done something good, you will receive merits. Vise versa, if you have done selfish things, the fortunes will walk far away. The Chinese character of fortune illustrates it very well. It has combinations of strokes describing cloth, one, mouth and land. It means with one cloth, and a small land to feed you, that is indeed fortune.
We need to think about our actions whether it is good or bad for my merit. When you buy a thing from the market, you need to consider if it is really necessary or not. Just because you have money, you need not buy everything because everybody else does. It is really wasting your life. Over expenditure is indeed the cause of social decay.
We need to learn the merit of being simple. The simplicity I am talking here does not refer only to material aspects. The simplicity not by given poorness but the simplicity by choice. In another words, it can be described as honest poverty or sacred poverty. It is simplifying the surroundings by reducing what is unnecessary but live by basic. People in old days had such virtue. Now days, it is not easy to hear the word like simplicity or honest poverty. No one seems to be interested in. But we need to try to live simple life, the pure poverty.
Pure poverty is the work of emptying oneself. It is being free of various attachments. The Bible says, “Those who are poor have fortunes…” That is sacred poverty. When you are free of greed, you attain such peace. It is like clear breeze passing through our mind and body and purify. By choice, possessing only what is necessary and living simple life by having the least, the fortune will find you. You will know the emptiness, yet fulfillment, which is never understood by those who chase after possessing more things.
This attitude, or thoughts are very enthusiastic and a wise choice made. The value of human life is not decided by material you possess.
Kitchen is often a practicing location for homemakers. It is also a place of love for family. The practicing place is not only in temple, church or cathedral. It is very precious that we have family. Of course, sometimes we meet certain problems cause by each other. It could be your children or husband. When you have conflict with them, you may be discouraged for the works you put on for family. But you must realize that, those difficult times are indeed a chance to elevate your life into higher level. You must realize that, your husband, your wife, or your children who give you hard time are Buddha who is trying to teach you. Don’t have preconception of Buddha. Buddha is not just a golden statue set high in the Dharma hall whom you always lit a candle or offer incense to.
Buddha is very close to us. Try to think that our family, neighbor, friends and parents are Buddha. You must not hate them because they may hurt you. It is because they are the teacher who came to teach you of the patience. Although it may not be your fault, hating someone becomes the cause for more trouble for several lives. Thinking of people who are least expected as Buddha makes the first step to patience practice.
There is one thing that mothers of today must do. It is keeping the family and not just a house. Due to modern life, there seems to be only house but not family who gather around. It is because everybody is busy. But what makes the family is sharing ideas and love face to face. Keeping the family together is not only responsibility of mothers but I would like to encourage mothers to start.
In order to do that, try to spend an hour or even 30 minutes for yourself. Have time to reflect upon your own life. You may come to understand what you need to do. It may help you find your original warm heart. A mother who is the core of the family finds warm heart and understands what her duty is, she will find the family who are also changing. In warm hearts that make up the family, a paradise is found. Paradise is not found anywhere far away. Your visiting of temple today is to reflect upon your past, and to make determination how you should live from no on. If you come to temple just on a special prayer day for the sake of your child’s admission to college, it is not practice but something like a contract.
There is saying in ‘Chegundam’. “ There is no better fortune than to have less work, and there is no worst disaster than to have more things in mind.”
The Seon masters have said, “The one who has no engagements are truly a noble one.” It means a person who has no worries is not easy to find. It is not referring to a person without work but a person who is not bound to work. Such person is rare and free.
When you start complain about heavy load of works, it means you are burdened by it. If you take the work as your duty, or an offering to Buddha, you will not be burdened by the loads of work but think about how well you will do it. But if you try to do it because it fell upon you and you feel obligation, your complain will never end. The same work may differ upon how you think of it. It may be karma or it may be fortune.
I would like to make a suggestion here for you. This is just a suggestion so you don’t need to be burden by it. First is not watching TV for one day. It will better if your whole family can participate but if not, you may try yourself. Second is to read books at least an hour a day. If you are raising children, reading is most essential. Children learn more everyday and you should be able to guide them. Studying does not over when you walk out of the school. And it is not just by the school text. Show your children that you read good books instead of cheap gossip magazines. Third is to fest one meal in 15 days. It is just one meal you are skipping. While you fest, think about those who starve in the world and think what you can do to help. They say there are no longer starving people in Korea. But there are many who starve to death in the world. We hear the news that North Koreans suffer from shortage of food and flood. We should at least pray for them and share their pain.
And this is my last suggestion. Let’s speak softly in the public. It is quite bothersome when you speak too loud not regarding people around. There is manner in speaking, too. Think of others not to harm in any ways.
In our life, there will come the moment when we have to let go of our possessions. It is the moment of death. No matter how strongly you hold on, this is the moment you have to let go of all your attachment including your body. In fact, at the moment of your birth, you let go of your mother’s body, which have conceived you.
We have let go of the body of mother. And continuously we have let go of many things in our life. And at the final moment, we let go of our body. We have started out life from letting go, and we finish by letting go. But we must remember that letting go is not to gain something new, but it is to live life in its essence.