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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hate and faith and hope

The world spins and we live our lives day to day, and sometimes it seems we are awash in hate. Like ocean water made sluggish by sea weed, we float in the surf, but the things we can’t quite see grab at our ankles and wrap around our wrists.

We float - barely.

It’s a remarkable thing to find so much discord. Simpler times weren’t so long ago. They were times of lesser consequence, times when the world could be perfect and pure. These were times free of hate.

Yet, the fear and anger which leads to this darker path, is also woven into our lives, and permeates everything we touch. Because we fear, we become quick to anger. Because we build and compress anger, we give birth to hate. And that only leads to darkness – Hell on Earth.

What do we know about fear and anger?

There is a book written for the Samurai, named Hagakure. It contains many different short pieces of advice – most of them useful even today, hundreds of years later. These days I like to try to read a short piece from this book before practice. Perhaps it is age – or maybe I just want to set firmly in my mind some small pieces of wisdom. It helps to have these kinds of things when the days are dark. From the second chapter of the Hagakure, we are given this:

Covetousness, anger and foolishness are things to sort out well. When bad things happen in the world, if you look at them comparatively, they are not unrelated to these three things. Looking comparatively at the good things, you will see that they are not excluded from wisdom, humanity and bravery.

So when I read news stories, which so obviously slide into the territories of anger and foolishness, I’m saddened. It would have been a simple thing for someone to make a difference in some of these terrible events. A second-look at a situation – or a simple glance at a person who stands on the edge of some personal ruin can change the world.

But how often does that happen?

Instead we are fed with the worst the day has to bring every time we turn on the television or look at the news headlines in the paper or on the computer. We get to listen to talk radio personalities from the endless facets of political and social spectrums screaming their frustrations into the void. We are treated with disrespect and disdain by our selected leadership and day by day our world seems to erode around us.

But survival is key. The text of the Hagakure doesn’t miss this point, reading in part… 'If one were to say what it is to do good, in a single word it would be to endure suffering. Not enduring is bad without exception."

We are so capable of embracing darkness. As a creature of the Earth we have excelled in bending our very environment to suit our nature and needs. We have congratulated ourselves on our scientific advancements, and partaken of wonders created through ingenuity and hard work.

But where we have evolved technologically, we lag behind in spirit and faith. So many of us lack faith in any kind of supreme being and what is maybe worse – we lack faith in ourselves and each other. But we can be more than this.

The world spins and we live out our days, and sometimes, if you look real hard, it can seem like we are awash in hope.

***

When meeting calamities or difficult situations, it is not enough to simply say that one is not at all flustered. When meeting difficult situations, one should dash forward bravely and with joy. - Hagakure

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