Years ago I heard
D. I. Suzuki say that in practical life we must rely on ourselves,
but in our spiritual life we must rely on the power of another.
In our Culture, self- reliance is stressed. Emerson wrote a famous
essay entitled Self-Reliance. We have many sayings such as 'If you
want to grow potatoes you had better pick up a hoe' and' If you want
something done right, do it yourself. This is valid in practical matter
from care of teeth to wise investment of funds, but as the majority
of us who try it discover, it is not too helpful in attaining Buddhahood.
The main aspiration of a Buddhist is enlightenment, to see reality
without illusion as Sakyamuni Buddha did. And we are told that for
this accomplishment of prime importance in our lives we must not
rely on ourselves at all? This requires a 360-degree turn, easier
said than done.
The mind has many levels of deviousness. If I look, I find that
when I do something to 'help' another, somewhere in there is a tiny
intention that this 'good' deed is bringing me a step closer to
Nirvana. It is almost irresistible for me to try to give the unlimited
force field that we call Amida Buddha a little assistance. Most
of the time I don't attempt to look. Denial is the great soother.
Usually I don't realise there has been denial until the current
top layer has peeled off, and I see it for what it was.
Sometimes there is nothing left but to say Nembutsu.
first appeared, with the Author's permission, in PLN 7, September
1996. Republished here in agreement with the compiler/editor of
the inaugurate hard copy Journal. The Author, any person or any
organisation credited, quoted or connected with this article are
cordially invited to contact me with any comments, amendments, fresh
contributions or complaints. email