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Harada Roshi

Calendar 2013

Every year the Roshi choses a saying which he would like to give to everyone as a guiding line for the New Year. Here are the words for next year 2013:

Ho'on Shatoku begins a couplet in one of the Emperor Hanazono's letters to Kanzan Muso Daishi, founder of Myoshinji Temple. The Emperor Hanazono, explaining why he wanted to build Myoshinji, wrote that whether waking or sleep­ing, he could never forget his deep determination to ensure that the Dharma would flourish, in order to bring liberation to all beings, without exception.
From the profoundest debt of gratitude, in deepest thanks, the dharma is spread and brought to flourish.
Nothing in the entire world can make us more joyful or more deeply grateful than to know the true meaning of our birth as human beings. If we hear truly the words of the Dharma, we are able to die peacefully that night.
The greatest gift possible is awakening to the knowledge that each human being who dies and decays is actually a Buddha incapable of decay. That life which seems capable of being extin­guished, has truly nothing to do with being born or dying. Each human being, full of mistakes and sin, is and has always been characterized by Love and Wisdom. From the origin, each human body, just as it is, is perfect and complete. Its true, deep char­acter has never been any other way.
Such realization does not come from training or scholastic stud­ies. This deep awakening, realization of this satori, is a very great gift of insight, for which we offer our deepest gratitude and thanks. No joy surpasses the deep realization of this truth; nothing can be more wonderful in life than to deeply know this.
The Buddha Dharma is what guides us to this great joy and very good fortune. The excellent guidance and direction of the Buddha and the Ancients enable us to awaken to this truth. Once awakened in this way, how could we fail to be filled with
profoundest Gratitude? The very way that we live IS gratitude. We live in a way embodying humility; this humility IS the Buddha Dharma.

We bring our palms together
...in thanks and gratitude for the great abundance of all Nature.
...in thanks and gratitude for the hard work and efforts of everyone in society.
...in gratitude to our parents and our ancestors.
...to honor the deepest character of each and every person.
...to honor our deep debt of gratitude to all the Ancients and the Buddha.

In a Zen dojo, sutras are chanted with every meal, to express and cultivate deep gratitude. The meal sutras are reflections on and from a state of gratefulness.
Even one bowl of simple rice gruel is the result of many people's efforts. We honor the effort of each person who made it possi­ble for the food to arrive at our table. This must be seen clearly, pointedly, as we receive the food. This is especially true for peo­ple of training, who do not work for money but depend on offerings from others to support their livelihood.
Hyakujo Zenji said: “Do not be grateful for the just great bounty of Nature and blessings from God, but at the same time see how important are the strong efforts of people in society.” We must appreciate not only the bounty of natural resources, but also the work of people who cultivate these resources.

Hyakujo Zenji also said it is greed to partake of the efforts of others without ourselves working. In this context he spoke his famous words "A day without working is a day without eating.”
In gratitude, we should respect the efforts of others, not grab and take greedily for ourselves. All of us must work, without resenting any bit of extra effort, no matter what it is. How best to offer the work we can is a basic consideration in sustaining a functional society.

Each of us must consciously give fullest effort to 'deserve' the food we consume. Having "earned our bread" with sufficient work, we eat deservingly, free from shame.
We chant to help release our attachment to eating for delectation and indulging preferences. We chant to let go of the gluttonous desire to eat more and more. It has been said that food is not for only for our physical body but to cultivate our Mind. True nutrition is sustenance for both body and mind.
We can eat with gratitude, consciously, or eat in a numb, insensitive way. For eons, food has been considered a gift of the gods and a blessing of Great Nature. We must not take our meals selfishly, but as in the deep harmony of a good household, receive and share them together.

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