I expect to pass through life but once
If, therefore, there be any kindness
I can show, or any good thing I
Can do to any fellow being,
Let me do it now, for I shall
Not pass this way again.
~Quote by William Penn
English Quaker and founder of Pennsylvania, USA
After all the rain, it looks as though Spring may be on its way. The early flowers are blooming and
the trees are filling its branches with new growth. The air is clean and crisp. Even though it may still
be chilly in the morning, the sun is refreshing and warms our hearts and minds. The weather may
change, but until then we can enjoy and appreciate what we have.
During the winter months, our brain slows and becomes dormant like the flowers and trees. As
we begin our “spring cleaning,” we can turn our thoughts to 3 questions that may possibly be a “mind
exercise”. This exercise can be our Spring cleaning of the brain cells and may heighten our
awareness of our true self and the Dharma. Who needs a spring tonic that is terrible tasting and so
difficult to drink, when we have 3 simple questions to refresh our minds.
The first question is, what have I received from others or another way of looking at the question is,
what do we think we deserve from others? There are times when our greed or unfulfilled wants and
needs are not met. We become angry and we “think we deserve” whatever. Yet, that is merely selfish
The second question to ponder on is, what have I given to others? How often do we truly extend
kindness, thoughtfulness or generosity without expecting anything in return? Have we become “I” or
“me” people? This second question reaches down deep into our hearts and minds to help knowing
our true self.
The last question is, what troubles or difficulties have I caused others? We “think” others cause us
grief and suffering, however we tend to be unaware what we may cause others. We can be so selfish
at times because of our greed, anger and ignorance (lack of wisdom). We tend to put the “I” first,
rather than others.
These 3 questions are a scary adventure because they are a reflection of our ego. These
questions can help us to focus on how our thoughts, words, and actions do affect others. When
troubled with questions, we turn to the Nembutsu/Namu Amida Butsu for guidance and direction.
Nembutsu makes us think and search. It is moments of thankfulness, gratitude, and appreciation
for any small favor; satisfied or unsatisfied. It is not the quantity of things we receive, but the quality of
a pure heart and mind. If we want freedom from our sufferings, maybe it is time to become more
aware of actions, speech, and thoughts. It is thinking of others and not the “I”.
If we fall, it is the Buddha’s compassion and wisdom that will help us to “recover” from our greed,
anger, and ignorance; and yes, embarrassment. These 3 questions are difficult, however maybe
these questions will make “Spring cleaning” go by more quickly.
Gassho Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano
Rev. Nakano’s April 2nd, 2023 Dharma Message at https://youtu.be/8D_krZvYvwM