Roadside Wisdom

A month or so ago, Don Snabulus was reading the book 'Roadshow, Landscape with Drums' by Neil Peart, and was struck by something that Peart wrote which he had seen on a church sign. In a post on the Snabulus Blog, Don shared the sound advice that was on the sign: "You Won't Be Persuasive, By Being Abrasive". A good reminder, especially when blogging and exchanging ideas in a public forum.

A church marquee is a common enough sight on Maui. Here in Japan, Buddhist temples sometimes do the same thing in their own way.

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Our local Shingon sect Buddhist Temple has a chalkboard out by the street and the minister writes notices and words of wisdom on it from time to time. There is usually a poster as well.

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The poster shows a priest ascending a long stairway and says "Find yourself." K translates the meaning of the minister's message as: "Whether you spend the day in gratitude or complaining, it's the same day."

There is also a note about Aoba-matsuri - the celebration of the birthday of Kobo Daishi, founder of the Shingon sect (born June 15, 774), and of Kogyo Daishi who founded the Buzan Division of Shingon Sect (June 17, 1095). Daishi is not a surname, but rather a posthumous honorific title meaning "great master".

This "minister's message" is an important theme in Buddhism. We cannot control the myriad external things which affect our lives for good or ill, but we can choose the way in which we respond to them. Thus, our happiness or unhappiness is a choice we ourselves make. That is certainly something I need to be reminded of from time to time.


The Moody Minstrel said...

Wow. I like that message.

Maybe I should actually read the little fliers my family gets from our local Buddhist temple from time to time.

Swinebread said...

If I keep reading messages like that, I'll have to stop blaming everybody else for my problems.

agus said...

It's a brilliant message. One I keep telling myself and people who come to me for it.

In other words, yes, it is a problem, deal with it. Make it work.

Anonymous said...

Good poster, good message. Yet, the Buddhist will also tell you, "there is no good, no bad". No duality.

The image is striking too. Thanks for this post. Something to chew on.

ladybug said...

Yes, It's a nice thought, perfect for providing a mental "break" for the day.

The signs around here can get so preachy - I feel like I've been transplanted to Charleston, South Carolina (a place I've actually visited...)

Don Snabulus said...

A koan to cogitate upon if ever there was one.

Pandabonium said...

Moody - at least take a peek.

Swinebread - that would be un-American. ;)

Agus - and if you can't "make it work"?

Thanks Anonymous.

Ladybug - Brave soul. I've never ventured south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Snabby - ah, Grasshopper, your comment itself is a koan, since the purpose of a koan is to get one to suspend cogitation.

agus said...

Well, you just roll with it. If it doesn't kill you, it'll make you stronger. I prefer the latter though.