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Something That Is Made Cannot Compare With Something That Is Born
By Rev. Marvin Harada
Rev. Haya Akegarasu, in an essay titled, “One Flower,” states the following:
I hold here a single violet. The Kegon Sutra, Lotus Sutra, Yuima Sutra, Muryoju Sutra- none of them can compare to this single violet. The Koran, the Bible, the Zend-Avesta, the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Analects of Confucious- none of them can compare to this single violet. Painting by Sesshu- none of the works of art on earth can compare to this violet.
Things made by a person’s hands or words that come out of his mouth are always secondary as compared with the person himself. Something that is made cannot compare with something that is born. I like that man who said about the lilies of the field: “King Solomon in all his glory is not clothed as one of them.”
No empire of kingdom can compare to the single violet that is smiling in my hand.
Writings of Haya Akegarasu
I think that this is a profound statement. It has particular meaning for us as we live in an age of technology and science. Over the centuries, man has created many inventions and developed technology. We have gone from a horse and buggy to the automobile. We have landed man on the moon. We have built skyscrapers and bridges over vast rivers and canyons. We are entertained by television and video games. We listen to concerts by surround sound stereo, or carry in our pocket a tiny player that contains the music of hundreds of CDs. I write this article on a computer, one of the most amazing of inventions.
However, Rev. Akegarasu, in this essay, states that nothing created by man can compare to “a single violet.” Something that is made cannot compare with something that is born. The computer, the TV, the VCR, the automobile- none of them compare to your life, my life, because we have been born.
Sakyamuni Buddha once gave a most unusual sermon. With all of his disciples gathered around him, waiting for him to deliver a message of the Dharma, the Buddha spoke not a single word, but instead simply held up a single flower. All of the monks looked at each other in bewilderment, waiting for the Buddha to speak, and wondering what the message was about. Only the disciple Mahakashapa smiled to the Buddha in response.
I think that this wordless sermon by Sakyamuni Buddha, and the “One Flower” essay by Rev. Akegarasu have the same meaning. Sakyamuni Buddha was trying to impart to his followers the essence of life, the truth of the Dharma that is expressed simply in a single flower. Just look at a single flower that is in full bloom. The flower seems to be saying, “I will live my life 100%!” With the totality of its being, the flower shouts this nobility of life. Something that is made cannot compare with something that is born.
Each and every one of us expresses this most noble life, because we have been born. This life that we have been given cannot be compared to anything made by man.
This one life that we have received cannot be compared to any work of art. It cannot be compared to any invention like a stereo or DVD player. It cannot be compared to a plasma big screen TV or laptop computer. It cannot be compared to a Sony Play Station, or an espresso coffee maker. This one life is incomparable to anything made by man.
Rev. Akegarasu and Sakyamuni Buddha saw this noble, incomparable life even in a single flower. The Zen Master, Zenkei Shibayama also expresses this beautifully in the following poem titled, “A Flower Does Not Talk.”
Silently a flower blooms,
In silence it falls away;
Yet here now, at this moment, at this place,
The whole of the flower, the whole of the world is blooming;
This is the talk of the flower, the truth of the blossom;
The glory of eternal life is fully shining here.
As we observe Hanamatsuri and celebrate the birth of Sakyamuni Buddha, may we be reminded of the nobility of life that we have all received, and may we live this one, incomparable life radiantly like a flower in full bloom.
This Dharma Message was reprinted from Dharma Talks of the Four Seasons No. 2, which is available for purchase from Hongwanji Place. Rev. Harada is the resident minister at Orange County Buddhist Church.
Dharma Message- April 2018