Seven months later, I’m returning to Rev. S.K. Kubose’s wonderful primer, Bright Dawn. Two things that strike me as I read it are his ability to stay focused on the little acts of daily life as he is doing them and to turn them into lessons about Japanese Buddhism.
An example of the first point is the attention he pays to his shoes. As a runner, he acknowledges that his shoes are important and that he is mindful about lacing them up every morning. He explains that shoes merit our gratitude, because they allow us to get around, and they protect our feet. He goes on to describe a deeper meaning to his shoes in this way: “Being grateful to one’s shoes… always goes beyond whatever one is being thankful for. One becomes more aware of being grateful in general. One becomes a grateful person.”
The second point comes in his description of his commute to Lake Michigan, for his daily run, in which he uses stop signs or lights as “reminders to stop or pause mentally, and be aware of how I am living.” He goes on to talk about building up his ‘stopping power” and “deepen my awareness of the causes and conditions that support my life. We can all build up ‘stopping power’ which means to stop taking things for granted and to stop doing things that are harmful to ourselves, to others and to the world we live in. Then we can start to give back.”
Part of giving back is to fulfill our obligations, which Kubose Sensei identifies as the obligation to thank and repay what we have received from our parents, then our obligations to “our family and friends, then to the society we live in, and finally to all living and non-living things in the world. We are interdependent and our lives as human beings are supported by all things.”
A lot to think about when tying one’s shoes or driving a car, but a good way to get us out of our narrow, “I am the center of the universe” perspectives.