Thankfully This Life Continues

When I was in my twenties, I found satisfaction in getting things done quickly, so I could move onto my next task.  Now that I am in my forties, I find that I appreciate more the activities that I am able to continue over time.  For example, I took up cycling as a hobby in my late twenties while I was living in Miyazaki, on the island of Kyushu in southern Japan.  Most weekday mornings, I would wake up early so I could spend an hour or so cycling along the coast before work.  On those days my goal was to quickly cycle out to my destination, quickly return home, quickly eat breakfast, quickly shower, and quickly commute to get to work on time.  I was trying to get as much done as possible in a short time, so my attention was naturally focused on my efforts to complete each task as quickly as possible.  In that busy frame of mind, my thoughts turned to what I could accomplish through my own efforts.

When I first I became a parent with small children at home, I found fewer opportunities to go out cycling for fun.  However, these past few years as my children get bigger, we are now able to go for bike rides as a family.  Also, now that I am supervising the Buddhist Church of San Francisco, I often use a combination of bicycle and commuter trains to make my way back and forth to San Francisco for services.  On days when I have some time after service, I’ve taken to biking home from San Francisco to San Mateo.  The first time I managed to bike home from San Francisco, I was grateful that I was able to continue pedaling until I finally arrived at our house.  I find that at this point in my life, I enjoy being able to continue riding at a comfortable, steady pace, more than racing to arrive at my destination.

I recently had the opportunity to participate in the 20th Annual Buddhist Bicycle Pilgrimage organized by the Dharma Wheels Buddhist Cycling group.  The Pilgrimage began at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin, and we made our way through the mountains and hills into Sonoma County, with well-organized rest stops and a delicious lunch in the shade of a large oak tree at a farmstead in Graton.  After lunch, we were joined by a pair of Buddhist Nuns from the Theravadin tradition who led us in meditation and shared a Dharma talk.  Most of the pilgrims continued on toward a campground in Cloverdale where they would spend the night, but I needed to get back to San Mateo for service the following day, so after lunch I rode back to my car that was parked at Spirit Rock. 

The nun who kindly shared a Dharma talk for our bicycle pilgrimage offered the following words, “When you have the sense that it is your power that is moving the bicycle, take time to examine that self that seems to be moving the bike.  What is true and real in that self?”  As I pedaled down the road with that Dharma teaching in my mind, it occurred to me that it was not my efforts that were propelling the bike.  Rather it was the care and support of many people that made that ride possible.  Truly it was thanks to the workers who paved the road I was riding, the volunteers who planned the pilgrimage route and prepared nourishing food and beverages at the rest stops, and the good Dharma friends who provided support and companionship along the journey that I was able continue my journey.

The light of the Buddha’s wisdom illuminates the truth that I have been able to continue my life up to this point thanks to the kindness and support of so many other people.   On November 20, we will hold our annual Eitaikyo Perpetual Memorial Service at the San Mateo Buddhist Temple.  The meaning of “Eitaikyo” is to continually recite the sutras taught by the Buddha inspired by the gratitude we feel for the deceased loved ones who continue to guide us from the Other Shore.  The Eitaikyo Service honors their wish that the San Mateo Buddhist Temple perpetually continue to exist as a place where we can gather to receive the light of the Buddha’s wisdom.

Namo Amida Butsu