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You can´t write a letter on the sky, you can´t write numbers on the water...
Harada Roshi

Buddhism for Children

From a talk by Shodo Harada Roshi given on the 29th of July at Dake children´s group, age 6-13: 

Greetings Children, I would like to talk a little. Please try to be a little patient during this time. You all just sat Zazen, right ? - (group of children): Yes. -How did that feel? - (no answer) - No idea? You all have eyes, can you see the face of this priest? - Yes. - That means your eyes are working fine. How about the ears? Can you hear the voice of the priest? - Yes. - That is wonderful. How about smelling, can you smell when something delicious is being cooked? - Yes. - And when you eat it, do you know the taste? - Yes. - Wonderful. You can see, hear, taste, smell. How about when it is hot, can you feel the heat? Or the cold when it is cold? - Yes. - When you have pain, you can feel the pain. That means you all have exactly the same abilities as the Buddha. Do you know someone who has died? Have you seen someone who is dead? - No. - That is really too bad. A dead person also has eyes, yet cannot see. A dead person also has ears, but I have never heard that a dead person can hear. They also have a nose, and cannot smell. They have a mouth and don´t eat. And even when they have arms, they don´t pick anything up. They have legs and don´t walk. And why is that so? The dead person has the same eyes and ears and nose like all of you, so why don´t they move like you? - Because their heart has stopped. - But what makes the heart beat? - Eh..... - Because we are alive, that is why the heart beats. - And we breathe... - Exactly. We are alive. Do you understand? Do you know what this priest is trying to say? Where is the difference between being alive and being dead? - They are in a grave. - That is after they are dead. When they have just died, they are not yet in a grave. First they need to be burned in the crematory. And then they are being put in the grave. Before that they can´t enter the grave (it is by law in Japan that everyone must be cremated - added by editor). The good thing is: a dead person doesn´t complain. When someone hits you, you say: "ouch" and get upset. But a dead person does not respond. The difference between an alive and dead person has to be understood clearly. You all have your whole life in front of you. But you need to know what to take as most important. Today at Zazenkai the little boy came again. He was wearing a Tshirt with Number 3 on it. When asked, what do you like, he responded: football. So how about all of you, what do you want to become? What sport do you like? - Football. - Oh, many children like football. You all can do whatever you like the most. But you can only do this because you are alive. Please remember this well: You can do it because you are alive. And in life, whenever you have a hard time, you are still alive. Nowadays there are many crimes happening. When there is someone a person doen´t like, they just kill that person. Thinking to themselves: I am having a hard time and you are in my way. So they kill that person. And then there are those who commit suicide. 

There is Keiyo University in Tokyo, and the person who started this university is Fukuza Yuki. You know him, right? - Yes. - He is printed on the 10.000 Yen note. Have you ever received this much money? That would be a bit too much. Your parents really would have to work hard for this. Fukuza Yuki said, "to not create a person being higher than another, neither being lower than another. Humans are all equal". When asked what was the most fun part about life, he answered: "Having a job." This means to have a goal, to have a direction in life is what is the greatest joy. And what is the most difficult thing in life? He answered: " Having no education." This is not just about knowledge, but having studied, and with a wide vision, a huge heart, helping others around you. That is an educated person. Yet there are many people who have not much education. And those are the ones who commit crimes and are violent. The greatest way to do something for others is to not think about doing something good for others. If there is someone like this, he/she is a great person. To be able to love all people, that is a great person. So you cannot say: I like this person and dislike that person. That would be no good. What is the loneliest thing? To not have a job. What is most shameful? To lie. This is what Fukuza Yuki is teaching all of us. Remember these words well. That kind of person you have to become, loving all human beings. You sit zazen, but that is not all there is to it. What kind of person do I want to become? What should I study to become this kind of person? This is what you need to see. We all have eyes, ears, nose, mouth, arms, legs, all is working fine. We need to use all of these well. A person who tries to hide from work, saying: it is too hot, let´s stop. And not even sweating, just staying immovable in a room with air conditioning. This can´t be called being alive. To be alive means to sweat, to use your eyes and ears, your arms and legs. That is most important for you. Anyone can understand this, right? And if you can understand this, then also your practice of zazen today has meaning. Please, all of you, for your life to not let it become lonely, neither shameful, nor difficult. What you will become? Actually, it changes when you get older. Now you might say, you want to become a football player, but next year it might already be different. It changes and keeps changing. But the essence of the human heart, that does not change so easily. So you all need to take responsibility for your own lives. Please take good care of it. Today´s zazen might have been just very hot, but one day you might remember this moment, and remember what this priest told you. Please take good care of your own lives. To know the importance of seeing, of smelling, of hearing, of tasting, of moving the body. There are some people in this world who can´t see or hear. And then to say that is a useless person, and bullying that person, like it happens in many schools. Someone who is a little different, so let´s bully him. That is very lonely. Very embarrassing. If you see someone who can´t see, think about how it would be for you if you couldn´t see.....or hear. That is someone of education with a huge heart. It is my wish that you all may become such a person with a great mind. Let´s stop it here. You have lunch now...and if I keep talking, your bellies will start to rumble....

Just remember what is most important in life. Let´s do gassho and bow. 

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