Difficulties Are No Match For The Optimist
How can we suppose that we, the children of Buddha, are put at the
mercy of petty troubles, or intended to be crushed by obstacles? Are
we not endowed with inner force to fight successfully against
obstacles and difficulties, and to wrest trophies of glory from
hardships? Are we to be slaves to the vicissitudes of fortune? Are
we doomed to be victims for the jaws of the environment? It is not
external obstacles them
elves, but our inner fear and doubt that
prove to be the stumbling-blocks in the path to success; not material
loss, but timidity and hesitation that ruin us for ever.
Difficulties are no match for the optimist, who does not fly from
them, but welcomes them. He has a mental prism which can separate
the insipid white light of existence into bright hues. He has a
mental alchemy by which he can produce golden instruction out of the
dross of failure. He has a spiritual magic which makes the nectar of
joy out of the tears of sorrow. He has a clairvoyant eye that can
perceive the existence of hope through the iron walls of despair.
Prosperity tends to make one forget the grace of Buddha, but
adversity brings forth one's religious conviction. Christ on the
cross was more Christ than Jesus at the table. Luther at war with
the Pope was more Luther than he at peace. Nichi-ren[FN#225] laid
the foundation of his church when sword and sceptre threatened him
with death. Shin-ran[FN#226] and Hen-en[FN#227] established their
respective faiths when they were exiled. When they were exiled, they
complained not, resented not, regretted not, repented not, lamented
not, but contentedly and joyously they met with their inevitable
calamity and conquered it. Ho-nen is said to have been still more
joyous and contented when be bad suffered from a serious disease,
because he had the conviction that his desired end was at hand.
[FN#225] The founder (1222-1282) of the Nichi Ren Sect, who was
exiled in 1271 to the Island of Sado. For the history and doctrine
of the Sect, see I A Short History of the Twelve Japanese Buddhist
Sects,' by B. Nanjo, pp. 132-147.
[FN#226] The founder (1173-1262) of the Shin Sect, who was banished
to the province of Eechigo in 1207. See Nanjo's 'History,' pp.
[FN#227] The founder (1131 1212) of the Jo Do Sect, who was exiled
to the Island of Tosa in 1207. See Nanjo's 'History,' pp. 104-113.
A Chinese monk, E Kwai by name, one day seated himself in a quiet
place among hills and practised Dhyana. None was there to disturb
the calm enjoyment of his meditation. The genius of the hill was so
much stung by his envy that he made up his mind to break by surprise
the mental serenity of the monk. Having supposed nothing ordinary
would be effective, he appeared all on a sudden before the man,
assuming the frightful form of a headless monster. E Kwai being
disturbed not a whit, calmly eyed the monster, and observed with a
smile: Thou hast no head, monster! How happy thou shouldst be, for
thou art in no danger of losing thy head, nor of suffering from
Were we born headless, should we not be happy, as we have to suffer
from no headache? Were we born eyeless, should we not be happy, as
we are in no danger of suffering from eye disease? Ho Ki
Ichi,[FN#228] a great blind scholar, was one evening giving a
lecture, without knowing that the light had been put out by the wind.
When his pupils requested him to stop for a moment, he remarked with
a smile: Why, how inconvenient are your eyes! Where there is
contentment, there is Paradise.
[FN#228] Hanawa (1746-1821), who published Gun-sho-rui-zu in 1782.