Step by Step

Posted by:

K. Ken Fujimoto

At a given point in time, something may seem very important.  At a later point, that same thing may not seem nearly as important, even trivial.  Later still, one comes to see that it was important in context.

We have all had such experiences.  Some of what seemed so important at the time may even have become totally forgotten.

One such example can be seen in how we react to starting school.  A young child going to school, pre-school or kindergarten for the first time goes through a great amount of trauma.  Leaving the parents for the first time and getting used to interacting with other children and people is a major upheaval in their daily routine.  They quickly adjust and forget until it is time to leave that setting and go on to the next level.  This repeats itself at each level, grammar school, middle school, college and into their jobs.  In reflection after each level, it might seem silly to have experienced so much anxiety at that point, but when it was happening, it was very real and, perhaps, even painful.

At an even later point, one comes to see that each step made the following steps possible.  Without the foundation laid at each level, the next level would not have been possible.  Each step makes it possible for one to be where one is now.  One comes to see that though each step was not nearly as great as it seemed before taking it, it was critical as part of the total process.  The trauma experienced at that time may seem so trivial and unwarranted at a later point, but that can only be said by someone who has experienced it.  When it is happening, the anxiety and suffering are real and overwhelming.

We cannot know or judge another’s suffering.  At any point in a person’s life, the weight of suffering or anxiety is as great as they experience it.  Someone who has gone through the same experience in the past may feel that it is trivial and minor, but for the person facing that issue now, it is tangible and a source of pain.  Others may understand and can try to ease it somehow, but they need to understand that it is not a trivial matter for that person at that time, no matter how laughable it might become later or how trivial it may seem to another.  At that point in time, for that person, it is real and painful.

From this, we can see how subjective or existential our view of life is.  It is very difficult for us to see our own lives objectively.  No matter how hard we may try, we cannot completely step back and see the bigger picture.  We may be able to do so to a point, but there is always a level where we will get caught up in our personal situation or view.

This is not a matter of being wrong, but it is limiting and will prevent us from seeing how silly, petty, superficial and/or trivial we might be.  The broader and more deeply we can see our situation and the world we live in, the greater our true understanding of life becomes.  Each step here will get us closer to a state where we can get an honest view of our lives and of the world around us.  Here too, each step makes it possible for each succeeding step.   Each step will be a great leap forward for us, no matter how tiny it may seem to others.

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We will be starting our Introduction to the Temple and Our Teachings class during the summer.  It will follow the family service in the weeks following our Obon service.

This will be a five session overview of temple etiquette, Buddhist and Shinshu history, Buddhist doctrine, Shinshu doctrine, and organizational structure.  Each class will be no longer than one hour in length, but if those attending should want to stay longer for further discussion, this will be possible.  The commitment that we ask of those attending will be one hour each session.

I call this a Buddhism 1A class, so if you know of anyone interested, please pass on this information.  Anyone wanting review is also welcome to attend.

© May 27, 2013