Plant a Seed

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Temple Car in Accident

Last month, the Temple car was struck by another car. This is how it happened.

When my wife took our son to the Japanese Language School, she parked the car on a street in the residential area near his school. After she walked our son to school, she went back to where the car was parked to find a man standing right next to the car. She felt uneasy about him there, but then he walked up to her to ask if she was the owner of the parked car. He suddenly bowed his head and apologized to her. He told her that because there was space in front of her car, he tried to park his car there. But unfortunately, he steered in the wrong direction and instead bumped the right rear side of his car into the front left of the temple car.

My wife assumed it was not going to be a big deal because the accident happened while the man was trying to park. But she was quite surprised when she saw the front of the car because the front bumper and the headlight were damaged more than she anticipated. So, the man bowed his head to her again with a sorry look on his face. After they exchanged their license and car insurance information and so on, my wife got into the car to drive home. But because the front bumper was dragging on the ground and might have fallen off if she drove too fast, she avoided the highway and returned safely using the local roads. This is how she explained the car accident.

When my wife told me what had happened, I began complaining about this misfortune happening so early in the New Year. But after careful consideration, I began to think that we were saved because the man who had caused the accident was honest.

Honest Father

First, I was very impressed that the man had waited for the driver of the car that he had hit although he had no idea when they would be coming back. We would not have known who was responsible for the damage to our car had that man decided to drive off instead. If so, we would have been responsible for the repair costs.

My wife also told me that the man’s little daughter was standing next to her father, waiting patiently even though she was probably worried about being late for school. When I pictured this father and daughter waiting together, my complaints about this man’s carelessness gradually turned into a feeling of gratitude: “Thank you for waiting!” And although the Temple car was damaged, this incident reminded me how wonderful it is when someone is honest.

Honesty is the best policy

Honesty means free of deceit and lies. It means to be sincere and trustworthy. There are some familiar proverbs on this topic like,

“Honesty is a lifelong treasure” or
“Honesty is the best policy.”

These proverbs tell us how important it is not to be deceitful when living in a world full of people. On the other hand, there is also an ironic proverb about being truthful:

“Honesty doesn’t pay.”

Certainly, there are also many instances where dishonest people gain something for themselves by being sly like a fox, while honest people who value order will often lose something. Every time that happens, I feel sad and disappointed at the social contradiction in which honest people are not rewarded.

Cause and Effect

As you know, the basic teaching of Buddhism is the law of the cause and effect. Cause and effect have the relationship where an effect always has a cause, but an effect without a cause doesn’t exist. Furthermore, Buddhist teaching puts an emphasis on our deeds (karma) based on the Law of Causality:

The idea that good acts cause good effects
and that bad acts cause bad effects.

It teaches us the truth of this world that what goes around comes around.

Sakyamuni Buddha shows us this truth simply by using the following metaphor:

The seed doesn’t sprout if you don’t plant the seed.
If you plant the seed, it will surely sprout.
What you must reap is just all that you planted.

And he also says,

Although the seed will surely sprout, its time is uncertain.

For example, if you tell lies often (the cause), you will lose your friends’ trust (the effect) sooner or later. On the other hand, if you always understand others and keep a promise (the cause), you will eventually gain respect and trust (the effect) from all those around you. In other words, your daily deeds will eventually bring you happiness or unhappiness.

With these examples, Buddhism teaches us that our lives as humans are determined by our deeds (karma). It is that, with our free will, we are able to choose our actions and decide our own future and freely create the world as we wish. The teachings of the law of causality and our deeds (karma) encourage us to strive toward the future in order to achieve the world of absolute freedom in which we will be able to eliminate our suffering.

What this means is that although the time when the seed sprouts is uncertain, your current effort will never be wasted. You will surely get result associated with your efforts. And if you neglect efforts, you will definitely get what you deserve someday. You should remember that whether you make your future happiness or unhappiness depends only on your daily behavior or karma (words, thoughts, deeds) and right effort.

“My Dad Is Honest and Trustworthy!”

When I think about it, although the man damaged the Temple car, his act of apologizing honestly without running away was something worthy of respect as a human. Unfortunately, for his little daughter, it must have been a tough day filled with anxiety over her father damaging another person’s car, plus worrying whether she might be late for school. However, I believe that, sooner or later, the sincere act of this man owning up to his actions will surely make his daughter be proud of him, realizing, “My dad is honest and trustworthy!”

This has been a story about the man who, as a human and a father, planted a beautiful seed.

In Gassho,
Rev. Yushi Mukojima