Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Life, Nature & Quirks

There are signs and tests that life presents that challenge us and keep us honest with ourselves.  There are moments in time, I have found, that are significant.  While everyone is different and unique in their own right, with their own opinions of right and wrong, most people lean towards what society has deemed right, and that is not necessarily correct.  Something right could merely be what society considers right, but not correct to the mystic law of the universe.  This is how I have felt my whole life. 

My mother joined Nichiren Buddhism when I was just a baby, so my first words were, "Nam MyoHo Renge Kyo."  I have had the great fortune to have met my mentor, Daisaku Ikeda in person on a number of occasions when I was in my youth and remember all his words of encouragement when he asked that the men's division and women's division foster capable young people to take the torch of this Buddhism and carry it on into the future, so that the spirit of mentor and desciple never dies and the attainment of Kosen Rufu (World Peace) will be realized.  President Ikeda's message has remained the same throughout my life, constantly speaking about the youth and how vital their role is in society and in our faith.  

I have practiced for more than 4 decades now and have grown into an adult.  My life has been extraordinary, walking the path of Kosen Rufu, challenging myself and encouraging others to keep fighting through all obstacles no matter what.  The rewards of my practice and striving to maintain the mentor desciple spirit are unbelievable and I consider my experiences to be more valuable than all the treasures of the world.

Today, I would like to touch on my quirks...

I am not just a Buddhist, I am a human being with quirks.  One thing that I grew up knowing about myself, is that I treasure all life and at a young age, had a deep awareness that we share this planet with creatures that are not human.  My quirk takes me a step beyond what society deems reasonable sometimes, but I am okay with that.  

Now then, here's the story...

A while back, not too long ago...perhaps a month ago, I woke up in the morning, went to my bathroom, turned the light on and was about to lean into the bath/shower to turn the water on for my bath, when I noticed a cockroach.  My initial reaction, which has always been my reaction to these creatures was to squeal in disgust, and I did.  My mind has a hard time with this, as I believe in life and do not wish to take another life into my hands, even if it is a cockroach, if it can be avoided.  I lack the courage to pick it up and take it outside, I admit this and I started to panic a little - remember, I am quirky.  I could not think of anything else to do, but grab the bottle of Pine Sol and drench it until it died, which believe me, is not an easy thing for me to do, as I treasure life.  

But...I did exactly that, and as the Pine Sol soaked the cockroach, I watched it.  I saw it struggle for its life and it hurt me inside to be the one responsible for ending its life.  The movements of this cockroach got slower and slower, until all movement ceased to exist.  The cockroach was lifeless and I was stunned for a moment.  I gathered a bunch of toilet paper and picked it up and tossed it into the toilet and flushed it down, never to see it again, but a sense of relief did not occur, rather a sense of grief poured over me.  My mind immediately works itself into thoughts of karma and how this affected both mine and the cockroach.  

For some, this seems ridiculous and even humorous, but to me, it was not a proud moment.  As a child, if I had a choice to walk on grass or pavement, I chose pavement, for I did not want to kill the grass, nor the bugs that lived at the base of the grass...yes, I was quite quirky, and still am obviously.

Now i bring you to today...

Today, I went to the pool to read a chapter of "The Human Revolution" in the hot tub, so my back could get some heat, which was needed because I lifted a heavy box and injured the already damaged disks from a decade or so ago.  It soon got to be very hot, so I decided to take a swim in the pool to cool off.  I jumped in and it was very refreshing and I swam a few laps, when I noticed a bee floating in the pool.

My initial reaction was to be fearful that it could crawl on me, but I looked further and it was struggling to stay alive as it was carried with the waves of the pool the children there made.  My mind reflected back to the cockroach once again and the thought of redemption rushed through my body.  I have always had a problem with deliberately picking up a bug/insect in order to bring it to safety, but I knew I had to overcome this fear one day, and that day was today.

With a swish of water, my hands swished it out of the pool.  I watched as this bee stumbled around in a daze, probably wondering what just happened.  I waited and watched it dry its body and as I did this, the children in the pool gathered around and asked what was going on.  I told them that I managed to get this bee out of the pool and want to see that it survives, as it is a product of nature and is beautiful in its own way.  One child asked, "But isn't it going to sting us?"  I replied, "It has the capability, but I am showing it some compassion in saving its life and mean it no harm and would appreciate it if they did not harm this one bee at my request and they agreed and giggled together.

The moment of truth came, and the bee, finally dry and very much alive, spread its wings and took off in flight.  My heart felt an overwhelming sense of joy and peace.  As it flew away, I whispered to myself, may this bee treasure its life that almost ended, like the cockroach who was killed.  I chanted Nam MyoHo RenGe Kyo for the life of the bee and the death of the cockroach and felt a renewed sense of love in my heart for nature and life itself.

I know I am quirky, but I use my quirks in a positive way, if at all possible.  Laugh if you wish.  Think me strange too.  I treasure life and live it with a profound sense that we are not alone.  We share this planet with creatures that are not human, but they are beautiful in their own right, even a cockroach.

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