Life often presents us with challenges and setbacks that can seem insurmountable. It’s easy to get caught up in excuses and let these obstacles hold us back. However, the story of Jim Thorpe, a Native American athlete who overcame tremendous adversity, serves as a powerful reminder that we have the ability to rise above any circumstance and achieve greatness.
In the early morning hours of his competitions at the 1912 Olympics, Jim Thorpe faced a daunting setback – his shoes were stolen. Left with no other options, he scoured the area and stumbled upon two discarded shoes in a garbage can. However, fate seemed determined to test his resolve as one of the shoes was too big. Undeterred, Jim wore an extra sock to compensate for the ill-fitting shoe. This incident alone showcases Jim’s unwavering determination and refusal to let circumstances dictate his success.
Despite the odds stacked against him, Jim Thorpe refused to succumb to self-pity or give in to excuses. He understood that life doesn’t always play fair, but it is our response to these challenges that truly defines us. With a steely resolve, he stepped onto the track and field, determined to give his best despite the circumstances. And that’s precisely what he did.
Against all expectations, Jim Thorpe not only competed but excelled in the 1912 Olympics. He won two gold medals that day, showcasing his exceptional athletic prowess and mental fortitude. Jim’s story resonates deeply as a symbol of resilience, inspiring us to look beyond our own limitations and strive for greatness, no matter the obstacles we face.
Jim Thorpe’s journey teaches us an invaluable lesson – we have the power to choose our response to life’s challenges. It’s easy to make excuses and let setbacks define us, but true growth and success come from pushing past those excuses. Whether it’s stolen shoes, failed relationships, or health issues, we can choose to rise above them and keep moving forward.
We often find ourselves caught between reasons and results. Jim Thorpe’s story emphasizes that we cannot have both. By embracing a results-oriented mindset, we shift our focus from dwelling on the reasons why things aren’t going our way to actively pursuing the outcomes we desire. It’s through action and perseverance that we create our own opportunities for success.
As we face the challenges that life throws at us, let us remember the incredible story of Jim Thorpe. His resilience, determination, and refusal to be held back by excuses serve as a powerful reminder that we have the ability to overcome any obstacle and achieve our goals. Instead of resigning ourselves to the unfairness of life, let’s choose to live with no regrets, push through our limitations, and continue running our race. Embrace the spirit of Jim Thorpe and strive for the gold in all aspects of your life.
From Kindness A Treasury of Buddhist wisdom for Children and Parents By Sarah Conover
Long ago, during the time of the Buddha, lived a boy named Chundaka. Chunda-as he was fondly called–was a happy and good youngster, but unable to learn to read or write. In comparison, Chunda’s older brother became quite knowledgeable, with a keen interest in Buddhism. When the older brother decided to lead a monk’s life, Chunda followed along. He sought to live near his brother; but secretly, he also hoped to work alongside the monks and learn about Buddhism.
“Why don’t you ask the Buddha if you can become a monk, too?” his brother encouraged. But Chunda had no confidence. “Brother, how can I?” Chunda sadly replied. “I can’t memorize, and I can’t read or write. I have no knowledge of scriptures, and I won’t be able to learn them. A monk must be able to teach others many things.” But his brother assured him that both riches and knowledge were meaningless to the Buddha.” He values only the compassion we have for one another and the ways to help all creatures suffer less. No one is as gentle and kind as he is. I know he will not disappoint you, Chunda. Go and hear for yourself,” prodded his brother hopefully.
So Chunda mustered all his courage. He bathed and purified himself. When he was certain he was quite ready, he approached the Buddha. The Buddha observed that this humble young man had an earnest and pure heart. He could see that Chunda would try his very best. The Buddha welcomed him as the newest monk in the community. The next morning, Ananda, head of all the monks, gave Chunda a small scripture to memorize, just 6 lines long. It was the first of hundreds that each monk was expected to learn by heart. But a week later, having tried his hardest, poor Chunda could still not recite it from beginning to end. Completely disheartened, he went back to the Buddha and admitted his failure.
But the Buddha was not greatly disappointed; he had total faith in Chunda’s good intentions. The Buddha and Chunda sat thoughtfully together in silence. An idea suddenly occurred to the Buddha. “Chunda, are you a hard worker?” asked the Buddha.”Do you think you can sweep the temple and keep it spotlessly clean?” “Oh yes, Buddha I’m a good worker, and I’m very good at sweeping. I just cannot seem to learn scripture.”
So the Buddha gave Chunda the task of keeping the temple perfectly clean. He was to hold no other job but temple sweeper. The Buddha then requested that Chunda speak two lines while sweeping: remove all dust, remove all dirt. But as soon as poor Chunda attempted his task, the words completely vanished from his mind. Luckily, Ananda overheard the Buddha’s instructions and could help Chunda remember them over and over again.
At last, a month later, Chunda had it learned by heart.”Remove all dust,” the monks heard Chunda whisper with the sweep of the broom. “Remove all dirt, he murmured with the return sweep. Behind Chunda’s back, the other monks snickered at his memory problem. More than a few took some pride in the extent of their learning. Day and night Chunda poured his heart into his work, repeating those six words again and again. Eventually, however, over time every monk couldn’t help but admire Chunda’s perseverance. They had never witnessed such single-minded determination. In time, the few words that the Buddha had given him to memorize became more and more meaningful to Chunda. His chores became a meditation upon the words.
Chunda’s curiosity deepened, and he suspected that the Buddha knew all along that these words were not as simple as they first appeared. “Did my teacher want me to sweep outer dust and dirt or inner dust and dirt?” he wondered. “What is inner dirt? How would one go about cleaning inner dirt?” he asked himself many times. Some months later, Chunda found the answers to these questions himself. While he worked, insight nudged its way into his heart. Once in awhile now, the monks saw Chunda thoughtfully pausing from his endless task, leaning against his broom and looking at the far off horizon. At last a day came when Chunda felt ready to discuss his thoughts with the Buddha. “Venerable sir” said Chundaka enthusiastically, “I think I finally understand the real meaning of the words you gave me.” “Please tell me what you understand,” encouraged the Buddha. “I believe that inner dust and dirt is a grasping, said Chunda. “If we don’t like something in our lives, we grasp for a different situation. But if we really like something that we have, then we also grasp because we don’t want it to change.” Chunda continued, “To look at life clearly, we must always see through this. We must sweep the dust and dirt away and keep our inner temple clean.” The Buddha smiled warmly at Chunda’s thoughtful words.
And so, as the years passed, Chunda swept and meditated and thought deeply. He found he did not have to memorize scriptures as the other monks did, for teachings seemed to arise from within. After a time, he became known as one of the wise and gentle teachers of Buddhism, affectionately called “Chundaka, the Broom Master.” He lived a long and happy life. And for many years people journeyed to the monastery from distant places, not just to hear from the learned monks, but to listen especially to Chundaka, the Broom Master. He was their favorite, loved for his very simple, yet very wise sayings.
In traditional China, painting was revered as “silent poetry,” while poetry was seen as “painting with sound.” Both art forms found expression through the medium of calligraphy, which was considered the “art of handwriting.” Scholars and artist-scholars incorporated calligraphic brushstrokes into their paintings, viewing their artworks as vehicles for self-expression. Consequently, painting was not only regarded as an art form of equal purity and lyricism to poetry and contemplative thought but also as a means to evoke sensory experiences, emotions, and a holistic engagement with the world.
For Western observers, it may be intriguing why Chinese artists incorporate writing in their paintings and what significance the characters hold. By examining some of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III’s paintings, we can gain insight into these questions and witness the embodiment of the concept known as the “Three Perfections.” This concept represents the harmonious fusion of fine painting, poetry, and calligraphy within a single artwork.
This painting, titled “Song of the Waves in the Three Gorges,” beautifully captures the grandeur of splash-ink technique alongside the charm of water and ink colors. Its overall tone carries a weighty presence. The brushwork employed in this artwork evokes a powerful sense of momentum, lively charm, and a vividness akin to the scene of a long, flowing river just passing by. The inclusion of a few small sailboats adds elegance to the water scene as they gracefully navigate through it. The combination of the mighty river and awe-inspiring mountains, enveloped in mist and holding sacred spaces, has a purifying effect on one’s emotions. This painting possesses a quality that is reminiscent of both poetry and calligraphy.
Notably, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has inscribed an elegant Chinese poem onto this painting, which can be translated as follows: “The song of waves echoes in the gorge. Hanging colors of rocky cliffs burst with charm. A few cloudy, misty mountains reveal shades of blue. The vast water’s melody sets the sails in motion.” This poem aptly captures the beautiful and misty landscape of the Three Gorges, where the water and sky harmoniously blend, and human emotions become intertwined with the scenery. This painting serves as an artistic paragon, showcasing the mastery of poetic, calligraphic, and painting skills.
This remarkable painting showcases a rare combination of splash-ink and splash-color techniques, displaying the artist’s bold and skillful brushwork. The resulting natural effect achieved through these techniques is truly indescribable. Within the bold and dynamic brushstrokes, one can discern countless intricate details and traces of charm emerging from the flowing watery ink.
The painting depicts a scene of mountains and water during the approaching dusk, conveying a profound message. The poem imparts the wisdom that we should strive to engage in virtuous deeds rather than harmful actions, treating all living beings with kindness and respect. By embodying such a way of life, one can transcend to another realm and grasp the truth of existence beyond the concepts of birth and death. This painting offers a profound contemplation on the purpose and significance of human existence.
The calligraphy in the two art works are executed in a cursive style, known for its swift and dynamic strokes. Cursive writing is often characterized by its rapidity and vitality, effectively conveying the artist’s profound emotions.
I believe many individuals have pondered the following questions deep within their hearts: Why do people exist? Do we live solely for money, status, fame, family, loved ones, or children?
People find meaning in life through various purposes and aspirations. However, what if none of these conventional motivations were present? Would life still hold significance?
To shed light on this existential inquiry, we turn to the profound insights of Mr. Inamori. This article serves as a synthesis of Mr. Inamori’s books, namely “The Art of Living,” “Embracing the Heart: A Path to Fulfillment,” “Mastering Thought: A Guide to Clarity,” and “The Entrepreneurial Spirit.” These collective works offer invaluable wisdom and would like to share with you here.
What constitutes life
The Essence of Life
Life can be defined as the amalgamation of destiny and cause. Personally, I began my journey as a technician, delving into research and development of new ceramics. At the age of 27, I founded Kyocera Corporation, which has flourished for over half a century.
Throughout this period, I contemplated the meaning of life and gradually formulated my own perspective. In fact, I embraced this outlook on life and followed my own unique path.
What, then, is the essence of life? Irrespective of whether we are aware or ignorant of this concept, our attitude and life’s trajectory will diverge significantly.
Therefore, it becomes crucial for us to grasp the true essence of life.
After much contemplation, I arrived at the following conclusion:
Each person’s life is akin to a tapestry interwoven by the warp of destiny and the weft of the law of karma.
Essentially, life is influenced by invisible forces, represented by two significant hands. The first is known as destiny.
Every individual enters this world with their own destiny. While the intricacies of fate remain enigmatic, our lives are guided or influenced by its presence.
Although some may object, I firmly believe that the existence of destiny is an undeniable reality.
We are, indeed, subject to a destiny that surpasses our personal will and desires. It disregards our joys, sorrows, and tribulations, akin to a ceaseless river that wraps around us and flows relentlessly towards the sea.
But are we entirely powerless in the face of fate? This is not the case either. An invisible force also exists within our lives, known as the “law of karma.”
The law of karma posits that good causes and deeds lead to favorable outcomes, while evil causes and deeds result in negative repercussions. In essence, our thoughts generate “causes,” not to mention the resentment, grievances, and fleeting thoughts that manifest. These causes bear fruit.
As Buddha Shakyamuni said, “Cause and effect”—causes never remain stagnant; every cause gives rise to an effect. Reflecting on our careers, karma represents the causal link. If a cause exists, there will be consequences.
In summary, cultivating virtuous thoughts, performing good deeds, and reaping positive outcomes while harboring negative thoughts, engaging in malevolent actions, and facing adverse retribution—this is the essence of the law of karma.
Hence, our lives primarily consist of two fundamental elements: “destiny and the law of karma,” while other factors hold comparatively less significance.
Understanding the Law of Cause and Effect: Shaping our Lives
Understanding the law of cause and effect empowers us to alter the course of our lives. Destiny serves as the warp, the law of karma as the weft, and together, they weave the fabric of our existence.
Life extends beyond the boundaries set by destiny, owing to the influence of the force of causality. Conversely, good deeds may not always yield immediate positive outcomes due to the interference of destiny.
Here lies a crucial point—the law of karma possesses greater potency than the law of destiny.
Furthermore, a mechanical relationship exists between these two forces that govern our lives. The force of cause and effect somewhat surpasses the force of destiny.
Consequently, we can harness the law of karma and potentially transform our predetermined destiny.
Therefore, nurturing virtuous thoughts has the power to alter our destiny’s trajectory and bring about positive change. Despite being subject to the control of destiny, we possess the ability to shape our fate through virtuous thinking and conduct.
3. Life motto: Don’t worry about the result, because the cause and effect must be reported.
In the law of karma, the correlation between cause and effect does not always manifest immediately, which often makes it difficult for us to fully comprehend this principle.
We may wonder why someone continues to suffer despite having done numerous good deeds. On the other hand, there are individuals with exceptional character who consistently engage in acts of kindness, yet they unfortunately endure illnesses. Similarly, there are people who engage in malicious actions and seem to lead contented lives with harmonious families, which can be puzzling to outsiders. These situations are not uncommon and contribute to our tendency to overlook the law of karma.
The reason behind delayed outcomes in accordance with the law of karma remains unknown, but there is undeniably a time lag. In my personal experience, the fruition of karma can be arduous to discern. However, if we extend our perspective to encompass a span of 20 or 30 years, there are no exceptions.
Thus, while immediate results may be elusive within a three to five-year timeframe, considering an individual’s life and observing the course of 20 or 30 years, the correlation between good thoughts, good deeds, and positive outcomes becomes evident. Likewise, evil thoughts and actions inevitably yield negative consequences. This understanding is apparent to all.
When we extend our viewpoint to a 30-year span, we recognize that the wicked do not perpetually prosper, and the virtuous are not eternally plagued. Ultimately, the virtuous find happiness. In the context of 30 years, everything seems to align favorably.
The connection between cause and effect can be likened to an equal sign—they are so intricately matched that it could be described as “remarkable.” Although this may not be immediately evident in the short term, over the long run, good causes lead to positive outcomes, while evil causes result in negative consequences. Karma proves to be accurate.
Therefore, the principle of cause and effect must be acknowledged, but it requires time for the outcomes to manifest. It is important to remember not to become anxious or impatient due to the lack of immediate visible effects.
Second, what is the meaning of life? Why do people live?
What is the meaning and purpose of life? This fundamental question demands a direct response.
In my perspective, the purpose of life is to enrich the mind and nurture the soul.
As inhabitants of this world, we are often consumed by desires and ensnared by them. It can be seen as an inherent aspect of human nature.
If we allow this nature to take control, we will be endlessly pursuing wealth, status, and fame, while indulging in fleeting pleasures.
Of course, life necessitates the fulfillment of basic needs such as food, clothing, and financial resources for leisure activities. I acknowledge that these requirements cannot be denied.
However, all of these worldly pursuits are confined to the present life, and they hold no significance in the next life. Matters of this world must be settled and completed within its confines. If anything within life is immortal, it is the “soul.”
When death approaches, all the status, reputation, and material possessions that we have accumulated will be relinquished, and we will embark on a new journey solely with our “soul.”
Hence, if someone were to ask me, “Why were you born into this world?”
I would unequivocally respond, “To ensure that my soul is purer in death than in life, or to carry a more beautiful and noble soul to meet death.”
We arrive in this world, experiencing the tumultuous impact of various circumstances, tasting the pains and joys of existence, and enduring moments of happiness and sadness until our final breath. Throughout this journey, we tirelessly and perseveringly strive.
The very process of life itself resembles sandpaper, refining and tempering the soul. Through this tempering, individuals elevate their character, cultivate their spirit, and depart from this world with a soul of higher stature than when they entered it.
I believe this is the purpose of life, and no other objective surpasses it.
Today should surpass yesterday, and tomorrow should surpass today. Each day, we exert sincere efforts, engage in unwavering work, take resolute action, and earnestly cultivate ourselves. It is within this process that the purpose and value of our lives are reflected.
More often than not, life brings us unhappiness. At times, we even resent the deities and divine beings, questioning why we must endure so much suffering. However, it is precisely these tribulations that temper our souls and elevate our character.
We should regard suffering as both a test and an opportunity, and we need to embrace this perspective.
Only individuals who perceive tests as opportunities can illuminate their limited lives.
The so-called “present world” is a period bestowed upon us by a higher power to refine our character, and it serves as a crucible for honing our souls.
The meaning and value of life lie in expanding the mind and fortifying the soul. To put it simply, that is the essence.
3. How should we face the turbulent life?
The life we lead is intricately woven with fate and the law of karma, which Shakyamuni Buddha referred to as “all things impermanent.”
Sakyamuni saw through the interplay of various factors, both positive and negative, in life and taught us that “life is characterized by suffering, and all actions are impermanent.”
Consider the aspect of health, for instance. While one may enjoy good health today, tomorrow could bring illness and confinement. The same holds true for business endeavors. Today may be smooth, but unforeseen challenges may arise tomorrow.
The phenomena we witness in the world around us are not constant or stable, as Sakyamuni described them to be “the impermanence of all things.”
“Lines” refer to all phenomena, which cannot be preserved indefinitely. Life is characterized by turbulence and fickleness.
Everything is impermanent, constantly changing, and new trials will continue to emerge. Hence, Shakyamuni also stated that “life is suffering.”
The concept of “pain due to impermanence” implies that life is a succession of suffering caused by impermanence.
In light of this, how should we approach life? What attitude should we adopt? It is these choices that ultimately determine the course of our lives.
Regardless of the fate we encounter, we must respond with a heart filled with gratitude. Good and bad experiences are intertwined, alternating throughout our lives.
Therefore, whether circumstances are favorable or unfavorable, bright or gloomy, we should express gratitude. Not only during moments of good fortune but even in the face of disaster, we should say thank you and demonstrate gratitude.
After all, I am still alive, and I have been granted the opportunity to live well. Hence, I should be grateful for this blessing.
I often remind myself internally that by practicing gratitude, I can improve my mindset and take the initial steps towards happiness.
However, putting this into action is easier said than done. It is challenging for individuals to reach a level where they can express gratitude regardless of whether the sun is shining or the rain is pouring.
When faced with adversity, expecting oneself to practice gratitude and express appreciation can feel unrealistic. Instead, the natural response might be, “Why am I so unlucky?” This inclination towards resentment is perhaps inherent to human nature.
So, when things go well and luck is on our side, does gratitude arise spontaneously? Not necessarily.
“Good fortune! I deserve this; it is rightfully mine.” People often tend to think in this manner. “How can this benefit be enough?” The desire for more lingers.
As people collectively succumb to greed and forget gratitude, they inadvertently distance themselves from fortune.
“We should be thankful for whatever happens.” This principle should be firmly ingrained in our minds through rational thinking.
Even if we don’t genuinely feel grateful, we should continuously remind ourselves to say “Thank you!” It is crucial to cultivate such a mindset.
Difficulties that arise serve as opportunities for growth, and for that, I should be grateful. When good fortune arrives, it becomes even more precious, and expressing gratitude becomes imperative. Always be prepared to say “Thank you!” and consciously reserve space in your heart for gratitude.
Approaching life with this mentality is of utmost importance.
Fourth, to live a happy life lies in these six practices
So, how can we train our minds to achieve these goals?
In Buddhism, there is a practice method called the “six paramitas,” also known as the “six ways.” These paramitas include “diligence,” which refers to hard work.
I sincerely hope that everyone can transform their destiny and lead a better life by practicing this concept of diligence in six aspects. The first rule is to “put in as much effort as anyone else.”
This means working diligently towards our goals and objectives. It is the fundamental aspect of diligence.
The second rule is to “remain humble and guard against arrogance.”
Take the example of Kazuo Inamori, who achieved great success as a business operator. However, his success was not an inevitable outcome. It could have been achieved by anyone—A, B, or C. Inamori Kazuo was simply given this talent by chance.
It is important to adopt a mindset of humility and recognize that the world needs individuals with specific talents. God has bestowed upon us certain talents by chance.
Therefore, we should never become arrogant or let success make us indomitable. Thinking that “I have talent and a sharp mind, which is why I established this company,” is absolutely wrong.
Ancient Chinese classics also emphasize similar teachings. Those who will achieve great things in the future shine with the virtue of modesty.
In other words, those who succeed are humble and possess high moral character. Those who continue to grow are individuals who have been humble from a young age, rather than those who seek attention.
I would like to share a famous saying: “Only the humble are blessed.” Those who lack humility are not qualified for happiness because they are unable to grasp it.
To achieve happiness, one must always maintain humility. Those who will excel in their careers in the future are those who remain humble.
The third rule is to “introspect every day.” It means reflecting on our self-centeredness and selfishness, and making a conscious effort to eliminate these qualities. This introspection is crucial, and we must engage in it daily.
Cultivating gratitude every day is of utmost importance. It is essential to have a mindset that allows us to experience happiness at any moment. And what is a mind that can experience happiness at any time? It is a contented heart.
People who can experience happiness are those who are contented. I have already discussed the importance of gratitude, so I won’t elaborate further.
The fifth aspect of diligence is to “accumulate good deeds and embrace altruism.” It means contributing to society and the world. This concept is of utmost importance and has been emphasized throughout.
Lastly, the sixth rule is to “let go of emotional troubles.”
This means not worrying excessively or being troubled by emotions. Although we should consider the impermanence of the world, it is unnecessary to worry or be anxious.
Unpleasant things happen every day, and they happen frequently. There is no need to worry or be troubled by them.
When faced with failure, we must let go of it completely and focus on the future. This point is crucial.
Some people constantly worry about not receiving orders or fear going out of business, thinking, “If this continues, we won’t be able to pay our employees.” I want to tell you that this is not the right mindset.
By harboring such concerns, the company will only deteriorate further. Instead, we should think, “Since we have reached this point, let’s work hard rather than worry about going out of business.”
So, I say, “Don’t worry, don’t be troubled.” When we think in this way, we can remain calm and keep our minds free.
To be precise, practicing these six principles is a rational approach to exploring our true selves, which is also a path towards enlightenment. It is not merely an ascetic practice, a routine, or a daily meditation practice, but rather a practice that can be comprehended through reasoning.
However, it is important to note that casual attempts once or twice will not yield significant results. Consistency is key. By staying committed and practicing these principles every day, your destiny will undergo a dramatic transformation.
By persistently adhering to these six points, everything will gradually align in a harmonious direction, leading to an undeniable improvement in your destiny. Even in the face of various challenges you may be encountering now, they will eventually dissipate.
Nonetheless, the utmost importance lies in practicing the first rule: “Effort as much as anyone else.” Merely considering the latter points without wholehearted dedication and diligence will render your efforts fruitless.
In the vast universe, there exists a law or will that propels everything towards happiness. As long as we consistently practice the six principles with diligence and liberate our true selves within our hearts, everything will progress smoothly.
With unwavering commitment, your true self will be revealed. This true self can be seen as an embodiment of the universal law itself. Once you break free from the confines of your old self, you can embark on a path toward a joyous existence.
Every individual has the potential for a positive destiny and the ability to lead a happy life. However, happiness cannot be achieved without putting in sufficient effort.
Therefore, I urge you to recognize the significance of the “six diligence” and put them into action. By doing so, you will pave the way for a fulfilling and contented life.
Life often presents us with a mix of challenges, ranging from personal struggles to family issues and health problems. It can be overwhelming, especially for a young boy, as he opens up to his Grandma about everything going wrong. However, through a simple baking analogy, Grandma imparts a profound lesson about the nature of adversity and the importance of trust and faith in difficult times.
In the midst of school problems, family issues, and serious health concerns within the family, the little boy finds solace in confiding in his Grandma. He shares his frustrations, expressing how everything seems to be going wrong in his life. Unfazed by the boy’s grievances, Grandma calmly continues her task of baking a cake. Recognizing the boy’s need for a snack, she offers him various individual ingredients used in baking, such as cooking oil, raw eggs, flour, and baking soda. The boy’s disgusted reactions reflect his belief that these items are unpleasant to consume on their own. In response to the boy’s repulsion, Grandma imparts a valuable lesson. She explains that while these ingredients may taste unpleasant individually, when combined in the right amounts and manner, they create a delicious cake. She further extends the analogy to the way God works in our lives.
Grandma draws a parallel between the ingredients in baking and the challenges we face in life. Just as the ingredients, when mixed together, create something wonderful, God works in mysterious ways to bring about goodness from our trials. While we may question why we endure difficult times, Grandma encourages us to trust in God’s divine plan.
Life’s challenges may seem overwhelming and bitter when viewed in isolation. However, Grandma’s wisdom reminds us that even the most difficult circumstances can serve a purpose and lead to positive outcomes. By placing our trust in God’s guidance, we can find meaning, growth, and resilience amidst the adversities we encounter.
The story of the little boy and his Grandma’s cake-baking analogy provides a powerful reminder of the transformative potential hidden within life’s challenges. Like the ingredients in a cake, our trials and tribulations may appear unappealing when viewed individually. However, with faith and trust, we can embrace the belief that God’s hand is at work, orchestrating events in our lives for a greater purpose.
By embracing faith, trust, and resilience, we can find hope, strength, and a renewed sense of purpose, even in the face of adversity.
The Title “A Lotus Pond Has Carp” suggests profound Philosophical implications that transcend everyday life. In addition to its masterful artistry, the painting contains subtle messages of the Dao and its fruits. The lyrics on the left and right sides of this work correspond perfectly with the image of the fish, forming a whole that awakens and enlightens, richly rewarding its viewers.
Why is this painting so artistically enchanting that it stirs the hearts of those who see it? One reason is that the fish are depicted with uncanny realism. The swimming carp are infused with vitality. The painting’s details clearly reveal the damage done to the carp’s skin, accumulated over a lifetime in the water, through lines that fade in and out. Appearing as delicate as a fine gauze, the translucent fins, for example, possess a natural realism. Texture and spirit are captured with utter precision, providing the viewer with stirring aesthetic pleasure. The surface and bottom of the pond are depicted with a wonderfully hazy charm, while the lotus flowers, leaves, and pods are portrayed in bold freehand brushwork with distinct and unusual brushstrokes rapidly applied.
The painting is mainly composed of back ink and rich colors. Only a few brushstrokes were used to create each vibrantly red flower, which seem to emit a pure fragrance. The hanging lotus pods embellish the painting, conveying an elegant contrast of hues and instilling a sense of vitality. As the fish swim about, free of any inhibition, the sunlight faintly reflecting off the water ripples provides the illusion of movement that occurs in the natural world.
When examined more closely, the painting has an intricate style to ascertain, for it seems to transcend realistic fine brushwork and convey the feeling of freehand brushwork. It is not in the style of conventional paintings. Instead, freehand brushwork was applied to produce the effect of fine brushwork with close attention to detail.
Fine brushwork was applied that transcends realism. The real and the surreal blend, resulting in a work that excels the beauty of a natural lotus pond. It represents a combination of techniques from the “Menglong” style of painting and bold, large-scale freehand brushwork.
For the painting, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III composed these lyrics of a Dao song: “No Dao exists on the high mountain, yet hearts yearn to go there. A lotus pond has carp; men have inquired about them. Which path leads to the truth is worth pondering. It would be better to look tranquil to our original nature, like a lotus flower sitting over its leaves in tranquility.” These lyrics speak of mysteries unknown to the ordinary person – seeing fish, not as fish; seeing water, not as water; no Dao exists on the high mountain, so no value exists in searching for it; and the fish have neither life nor death.
To understand the origin of the painting, we must ask: where did the fish come from? What state of realization was relied upon and gave birth to this exquisite painting? What form of realization manifested this mysterious, hazy, and illusory painting? The magical illusion of the fish and water is nothing more than a superficial image. Spirit is within; A life force underlies spirit. Spirit is empty or nothingness. The original essence of all things is neither empty nor substantive. Everything illusory and impermanent quickly changes in time and space, but their original nature remains constant. Thus, the lyrics of the Dao song continue: “To find our original nature, do not seek the source, as the source is our original nature, tranquil and unmoving, like a lotus flower sitting over its leaves in tranquility. There is no such thing as arising, passing away, and change. From this surpassing wisdom, usages that arise from Buddha-nature will naturally manifest. These usages include calligraphy and painting. Only in such a way is a consummate work created.” Thus, one should understand the tremendous meaning of this song of Dao written in this painting. Profound mysteries are deeply hidden within it.
In case the viewer remains oblivious to right stanza, on the left side of the painting, the second stanza of the song continues with: “The carp rely on the Dao, and the Dao awakens the fish.” The Dao refers to the state of holy ones, a realm that transcends the realm of ordinary people. It does not refer to regular abilities. The artist created this carp painting based on such a holy state. “The Dao awakens the fish” means that this painting of carp in a lotus pond was accomplished based on the wisdom of the transcendent Dao. Only with such wisdom could this lifelike, graceful scene of carp swimming in water be painted, a setting that combines the real and the surreal, emptiness and substance in such a wondrously appealing way. This scene of carp complimented by the boldly and powerfully depicted lotus leaves results from the artist’s awakening to the holy Dao.
This painting of carp, then, is merely an expression of one who has attained the Dao and reached enlightenment. Thus, this work is not just an ordinary combination of brush strokes, color, ink, and water. Instead, it results from techniques derived from the beautiful application of holy wisdom. The profound mysteries contained in “A Lotus Pond Has Carp” cannot possibly be conveyed by the superficial meaning of the words in its title! Actually, this explanation is entirely unnecessary. All those with discerning eyes will understand once they see the lyrics of the Dao song and the calligraphic skills with which they were written on the painting.
On November 13th 2008, at the Capitol in Washington D.C., several members of Congress and the Congressional Arts Caucus held an exhibition of the artwork of Professor Yuhua Wang and an official reception honoring her. The exhibition hall was crowded with people, including numerous officials and dignitaries. Many members of Congress, council members of the District of Columbia, ambassadors, and diplomats came to appreciate the exhibits on display. They praised the beauty of the artwork as being beyond imagination and praised Dr. Wang for bringing the light of beautiful art into the Capitol. Even after the exhibition ended, there were still members of Congress who came to the exhibition hoping to view Dr. Wang’s works of art.
Professor Wang personally attended the official reception in her honor. The hall was filled to capacity, making it a very grand occasion indeed. Members of Congress and members of the Congressional Arts Caucus added their support by signing and presenting certificates of commendation. During the official reception, members of Congress gave speeches expressing their respect for Professor Yuhua Wang. They praised Professor Wang for her outstanding contributions to world color-painting, sculpture, oriental arts, and the development of cultural exchange. A Congressional Commendation stated that Professor Wang is a selfless person whose moral character is noble. It also stated that through her practice of Buddhism, she benefits humanity and all living beings. Members of Congress who initiated the exhibition proudly presented that Congressional Commendation to Professor Wang as a symbol of appreciation and gratitude for her service to America and humanity. The Mayor of Washington D.C., Adrian M. Fenty, presented to Professor Wang a certificate welcoming the exhibition of her artwork in the nation’s capital and welcoming her to visit the entire area of Washington D.C.
Members of Congress who initiated and held this art exhibition included Corrine Brown, Danny Davis, Eliot L. Engel, Adam Schiff, Neil Abercrombie, Chaka Fattah, David Wu, and others.
Dr. Yuhua Wang was born in China and permanently resides in the United States. She is currently a research professor at the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University in the United States. She has been highly commended by the president and vice-president of Auburn University and by the dean of the college where she is a visiting professor for her achievements in the study of colors. Her faux coral and cobblestones that she hand-sculpted from light-weight material and painted have been praised in the Congressional Record as being “treasures of the world.” The Congressional Record also states, “In the history of Chinese art, her lotus flower paintings are unsurpassed…”
Professor Stephen Farthing, who is a world-renown authoritative scholar on art, the Rootstein Hopkins Research Chair in Drawing at the University of the Arts in London, and a R.A. (Royal Academician), evaluated the artwork of Dr. Wang. He concluded that her paintings may draw heavily upon the traditions of Eastern art but they present themselves as extraordinarily western ideas and images. He also said that Dr. Wang’s paintings very elegantly bring two forces together-the force that rejects perspective and the force of photorealism. In his short foreword to the book World’s Highest-Level Color Paintings and Ink-Wash Paintings-the Art of Professor Yuhua Wang, Professor Farthing wrote that that the space Dr. Wang’s paintings occupy was only opened up in Western culture in the 20th Century. He also wrote that Professor Wang’s paintings “…reach across cultures to celebrate the space that exists intellectually and emotionally between representation and abstraction, between a fact and an idea.”
It is said that a person’s creations are a reflection of his or her character. Dr. Yuhua Wang has always been a very diligent person who leads a simple life. Even when she is ill, she still attends to her daily life and is unwilling to have others do her work. All who meet her sense her goodness, compassion, friendliness, elegance, and noble character. Seeing her creations is like seeing her in person. In either case, one is left with a feeling of great comfort, ease, and peace.
On July 30, 2008, the United States Congressional Record affirmed that “…Dr. Yuhua Wang…has been recognized as a great artist and sculptor.” It was also stated in that Congressional Record that she takes great pleasure in helping others, is a selfless person whose moral character is noble, and has made great contributions to the development of cultural exchange between the East and West. Additionally, Denis G. Antoine, Ph.D., Dean of the Ambassadors of the Western Hemisphere, wrote in a congratulatory letter that the color forms created by Professor Wang are pioneering and without comparison, and her paintings unleash blissful emotions. He also wrote that Professor Wang’s works make people not only think of but also perceive a world of colors that brings a calming a peaceful impact on the mind.
The exhibition displayed four of Professor Wang’s hand-sculpted faux coral painted in oil colors. Those works are entitled “Glamour in Pink,” “Arching Branches,” “Parched Antiquity,” and “Cinnabar Nectar.” Another exhibit is called “Seventy-Seven Stones,” which are exquisitely hand-sculpted and painted faux cobblestones. Additionally, there will be displayed ten ink-wash paintings called “Spiritual Air,” “The Appeal of Lotuses,” “Two Chicks Under the Wool Tree,” “Ink Alone Excels Nature,” “Auspicious Atmosphere at the Lotus Pond,” “Light, Elegant Ink; Three Lovely Flowers,” “Yuhua,” “Lotus Fragrance Blown by the Wind,” “Golden Lotuses,” and “A Bit of Charming Autumn Scenery.” The three oil paintings on exhibition were “Flying Object in the Night,” “Heavenly World,” and “Exuberant Life.” All of these exhibits were authentic, and most of them were chosen by International Arts Publishing to be included in the book World’s Highest-Level Color Paintings and Ink-Wash Paintings-the Art of Professor Yuhua Wang.
At the exhibition, news reporters asked Professor Yuhua Wang which one of the works of art that she created is her favorite. Her answer, which she gave without hesitation, has profound meaning. She said, “Whichever work of art is everyone’s favorite is my favorite work of art!”
United States Senator Dianne Feinstein stated in her certificate of commendation that Professor Wang’s work in the oriental arts across the nation has distinguished her as a leader in the field. In a congratulatory letter, United States Congressman Edward Royce praised Dr. Wang for her outstanding accomplishments in education and art, especially in the areas of lotus flower paintings and sculpting.
Professor Wang’s hand-sculpted faux coral on which she painted oil colors are even more genuine-looking and more beautiful in form and color than real coral found at the bottom of the sea or on islands. Touching these works of art is like touching real coral that has been immersed and eroded in water. One cannot help but admire Dr. Wang for creating coral with a texture of having been immersed and eroded in water for thousands of years. This texture is difficult to find even with real coral at the bottom of the sea. The forms and colors of her faux coral reveal a quality of elegance and good taste. Such works of art are many times more beautiful than natural coral and have become rare artistic treasures. It is no wonder that her art is regarded as “treasures of the world.”
The cobblestones that Professor Yuhua Wang hand-sculpted from light-weight material and painted are exquisite and were made with meticulous attention to detail. These intriguingly and unpredictably varied faux cobblestones are not only genuine-looking, they are even more beautiful than real cobblestones. Their spots, streaks, watermarks, weathered appearance, reflecting light, and hues are all lifelike and exquisite. In all of their myriad variations, these cobblestones capture the spirit and form of real cobblestones yet surpass the beauty of natural ones. None of her cobblestones duplicates any other cobblestone in form, lines, color, or extent of weathered or aged appearance. Each cobblestone is in and of itself a meticulously and realistically painted work of art. Just like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflower Paintings, Dr. Wang’s oil painting on these cobblestones has been called wondrous color application and the most superb art in the world.
The ink and wash paintings of Professor Wang are boldly arranged yet lack the slightest trace of affectation. They have an air of ease and smoothness and convey a sense of complete naturalness. They express loftiness and broadmindedness and are imbued with deep charm and liveliness. Those works of art by Professor Wang can indeed be called ink and wash paintings of the highest order.
A great artist concluded that the lotus flowers painted by Professor Wang are the best in the world. He said, “She has an amazingly wide variety of techniques that she applies in an unpredictable way. It is hard to imagine that there is someone in this world with such adroit artistry. In her brushwork, she merges charm, strength, hues, scholarliness, graceful jaggedness, vitality, self-cultivation, and morality.”
The modern paintings of Dr. Wang have a unique style to them. Their lines flow smoothly and freely. Their diverse and unpredictable color combinations can express bold intensity, overflowing enthusiasm, traditional elegance, inspiring vitality, rustic charm, or majestic splendor. Those paintings are truly a feast for the eyes. Deeply embedded within them are feelings and wondrous skills. Her modern paintings are very sophisticated and should be carefully viewed. Actually, a magnifying glass would reveal that each of the many different parts that make up one of her modern paintings is a work of art in and of itself with its own unending appeal. This proves that Professor Yuhua Wang’s color application in modern paintings is another area where she has attained consummate artistic mastery.
Take, for example, her work entitled Yuhua. The leaves were painted with bold strokes, giving them a sense of natural charm. The stem was painted from top to bottom with one vigorous stroke of the brush, producing a gracefully jagged effect. The flower conveys the sense that it was painted with ease. It does not have the form of a flower but appears like a flower. This adeptly created work is not tainted by the slightest artificial brushstroke. In all of these aspects, Yuhua embodies the apex of artistic accomplishment.
The exhibits displayed in this Congressional exhibition deserve to be called works of art that are unique in the entire world.
In the realms of the divine, where questions often outweigh answers, one man sought to understand the essence of Heaven and Hell. Little did he know that his journey would reveal a profound truth about human nature and the impact of our actions on others. As the man conversed with the Lord, he discovered that the stark difference between these two realms was not found in their physical setting, but rather in the attitudes and approach of the people present. This revelation serves as a powerful reminder that we possess the ability to shape the experiences of those around us, either by causing suffering or by bringing comfort and hope. In this blog post, we delve deeper into this thought-provoking tale and explore how we can create heaven or hell for one another in our own lives.
Parable of the Long Spoon
The man, driven by curiosity, approached the Lord and asked about the nature of Heaven and Hell. In response, the Lord led him to two seemingly identical rooms. In the first room, the man witnessed a distressing sight. A large round table occupied the center, with an enticing pot of stew resting upon it. The aroma of the stew tantalized the man’s senses, but his attention was soon drawn to the people surrounding the table. They appeared thin, sickly, and famished, holding spoons with long handles. Though they could dip their spoons into the pot and retrieve a mouthwatering spoonful, the length of the handles prevented them from nourishing themselves. The scene evoked immense suffering and misery within the man’s heart.
As the man recoiled from the harrowing sight, the Lord declared, “You have seen Hell.”
Curiosity still burning within him, the man followed the Lord into the second room. To his surprise, he discovered an identical scene to the previous room. The same round table with the savory pot of stew occupied the center, and the people around it were equipped with the same long-handled spoons. However, in stark contrast to Hell, the people here were well nourished, plump, and filled with joy. Laughter and lively conversation filled the room.
Baffled and perplexed, the holy man expressed his confusion to the Lord. The Lord responded with a simple yet profound explanation: “It is simple. They have learned to feed each other, while the greedy only think of themselves.”
The Power of Perspective: The tale’s moral lies not in the physical attributes of the two rooms, but in the way individuals treat one another. It highlights the transformative impact of selflessness, compassion, and cooperation in creating a heavenly environment. Similarly, the absence of these qualities leads to a hellish existence characterized by suffering and isolation.
In our everyday lives, we are constantly presented with opportunities to shape the experiences of those around us. Our actions, however small, carry the potential to bring either happiness or sorrow. By choosing to treat others with kindness, empathy, and generosity, we create a ripple effect that can transform even the most challenging situations into moments of solace and hope.
Imagine a world where every interaction is infused with compassion and understanding. It is a world where we go beyond our self-centered desires and actively seek to alleviate the suffering of others. By recognizing the interconnectedness of our lives, we can foster a sense of unity and build a harmonious society.
Creating heaven on Earth begins with cultivating empathy and embracing a mindset that values the well-being of others. It involves reaching out to those in need, offering a helping hand, and truly listening to one another’s struggles. Small acts of kindness, whether it’s a smile, a supportive word, or a selfless gesture, can make a significant difference in someone’s life.
In a world where art manifests itself in countless forms, there are rare instances when we stumble upon something truly extraordinary—a concealed treasure that enthralls our senses and moves us on a deep level. Such a remarkable encounter occurred one fateful day as I explored the gift shop at The International Art Museum of America (IAMA), nestled in the heart of downtown San Francisco. Amidst the vast array of artistic wonders, my gaze became fixated on an exquisitely crafted wood carving—a masterpiece that exuded an ethereal essence of spirituality and profound significance.
This awe-inspiring sculpture, meticulously chiseled from a single tree, originated from China and was skillfully brought to life by gifted folk artists. It portrayed an enchanting realm of spiritual growth and profound accomplishments in Buddhism. Towering at an impressive height of approximately three and a half meters and spanning one meter in width, this artwork was a testament to the dedication and artistry of its creators. Every intricate detail, meticulously carved figures, and delicate embellishments, painted a vivid tableau illustrating the virtues of compassion, enlightenment, and the transformative journey towards Nirvana.
The intricately carved sculpture was a masterpiece that depicted the journey of practitioners from being ordinary to mastering the higher levels of Buddhahood. The figures in the relief were so vividly carved that it was easy to see their progression towards enlightenment and Nirvana. Every detail, from the facial expressions to the flowing cloth, the delicate flowers, and the instruments, was so meticulously presented that it was impossible not to be impressed.
The beauty of this piece lay not just in its stunning visual presentation but also in the message it conveyed. It illustrated the importance of practicing compassion in thoughts, words, and deeds to achieve spiritual growth. It reminded us that every act of kindness, every gesture of love, and every moment of selflessness is a step towards enlightenment and Nirvana.
The sculpture had a calming effect on me. It was a tangible reminder of the power of art to transcend language, culture, and time. It spoke to me in a language that was universal, one that transcended borders and connected people across the world.
As an art lover, I have seen many beautiful pieces over the years, but this wood carving sculpture stood out as a true masterpiece. It was a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the folk artists who created it, and it served as a reminder of the timeless beauty of art.
Karma literally means action. It refers to the universal law of cause and effect whereby positive actions produce happiness and negative actions produce suffering. You must be willing to rid yourself of evil according to the principles of karmic retribution for doing evil and likewise be willing to do good for the same reasons. Only in this manner will you bring about true happiness and good fortune for yourself and others. All Buddhist disciples must understand cause and effect, but, as Dorje Pa Mu explains, merely understanding this principle is not enough. You must clearly believe in the principle and live accordingly. You must use this principle in your actual practice to solve your worldly problems. You end causes and effects through cultivation whereby you train your mind and correct your erroneous ways so that your actions of body, speech, and mind (also known as your three karmas) correspond with the teaching of your vajra master and the Buddhas. Remember that greed, anger (hatred), and ignorance are the three great obstacles of cultivation.
You must remember that the so-called good effects or bad effects of karma are not a judgment nor given as a reward or punishment by a supra mundane authority such as God. The good or bad effect produced by good or bad karma is purely and simply a natural phenomenon governed by natural laws that act automatically, with complete justice. It is just like the law of gravity and other similar rules. This Law of Karma, or cause and effect, is so powerful that it governs everything in the universe except enlightened beings or those who recognize their basic original nature. Upon enlightenment, the round of cause and effect loses its significance, just as samsara, or the round of birth and death, ceases with enlightenment. Since basic or original nature transcends all duality and is ultimate, there is no one to receive the effect, whether it is good or bad, and no one to whom any effect can apply. This unique explanation by the Buddha of the nullification of the Law of Karma is very important.
H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has said, “Thus, only through learning from the Buddha, cultivating the conduct of the Buddha, and ultimately becoming a Buddha can we thoroughly liberate ourselves from the karma (cause and effect) that binds us to the cycle of reincarnation. Cause and effect still exists when one becomes a Buddha. However, cause and effect can not affect a Buddha. For example, the Buddha saw mountains of swords and seas of fire in the hell realm. The mountains of swords and seas of fire continued to exist as extremely painful means by which living beings undergo karmic retribution. When the Buddha suddenly jumped into the mountains of swords and seas of fire in order to undergo suffering on behalf of other living beings, the mountains and seas immediately transformed into a lotus pond of nectar. They transformed into a wonderful state. With respect to a Buddha, all bad or evil karmic conditions turn into the manifestation of good karma. Not only is there no suffering, there is instead a manifestation of great happiness.”
However, until we become enlightened, we must remember that it is as Dharma King Tsongkhapa said, “the things I’ve done, the white or black and what these deeds will bring to me, follow always close behind, as certain as my shadow.”