Self-containment & Wireless Path
One old Indian folklore tells an amazing story of a princess who likes to hunt and loves animal skins; her saddle, chairs, beds, knife and sword handles, all covered with leather and furs of many different animals.
One day she wakes up from her leather bed and put her bare feet on the ground. Suddenly a very crazy idea comes to her. She goes to her father the king and asks for her wish to be fulfilled. Upon hearing her request, the father has no way of knowing of what to do though he loves her more than anything in the world. She wants to cover the entire kingdom with leather so she can always walk on leather. It is an impossible task.
An old court official hears the king's conundrum and travels to meet him. He advises the king to order the best workers to make dozens of sandals with the best softest animal skin. So, he explains, when the princess wears the sandals, she can walk anywhere on the kingdom and still always has leather under her feet.
I received an email from a friend at midday today. Attached with the message was a photograph of a beautiful Japanese Geisha with an umbrella, under an awning, next to a pinewood fence with bamboo branches reaching across. I looked at the picture and could not put it away. It somehow brought connection to the story of the Indian princess with her leather sandals. I looked out the window and it started to rain. Yes. Leather soles let you walk everywhere on leather, and so you don't have to cover the world with leather. With an umbrella, you have a roof above you everywhere you go. Small as they are, sandals and umbrellas, but how massively effective they are!
Like all things in life, the study of Buddha's teaching can be just like sandals and umbrellas.
To a poet, anything anywhere is a source of poetry. To an angry violent man, everywhere is a battlefield. A romantic soul sees love in any situation. Being altruistic, one can serve everywhere. To a perpetual student, anywhere can be a school class. If you follows Buddha, every road you are on can be you path to enlightenment.
In today's world, we should practice wirelessly ...
Self-containment is staying steady within one's self, not depending on or tied down by too many crisscrossing connections and relations, but still living a decent life, maintaining well on the righteous path and reaping rewarding results spectacularly. Be independent but not self-isolated. Be alone but not lonely. That is the way to practice Buddhism wirelessly.
Ordinary life is the same. Because I love you, believe in you, trust all my hope onto you, I do have you with me, though we are physically thousands of miles apart. Wireless love!
I live far from my motherland but I have in my heart our people, our country, the wisdom of previous generations and the innocence of the future generations of Vietnam. I call this my wireless love for my country. I cannot be everywhere all over this planet to share the suffering of all people, but my thoughts and actions are always about and for all people in mind. A sort of wireless altruism.
Finally, the content of a book is more important than its cover. Trouble is there may not be enough internal volume, so the content may be lacking. And so the hope for self-containment, right now, is more likely self-disintegration; i.e. body is here but mind is elsewhere. In other words, it is not quite what it seems. A person like that cannot live wirelessly. He does not have an umbrella to go out bravely into the stormy rain. He still needs a roof and protection and dependence on somebody or something. He has yet enough personal strength to go out alone separately. If you play all day, you may catch a cold, and even worst, die from it. Still on the other hand, those who practice well and can live wirelessly are not quite there yet. There is a downside of non-attachment: often the result of work is lessened, so is the ability to preserve energy. But from this, the life of a Buddhist path finder is a long journey of self-examination, self-awakening and, one day finally, reaching self-containment. Here's hopeful!