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Mind Matters

G Sakamoto

Man walks up to a Buddhist hot dog vender.

Man: “Make me one with everything!!”
Vender: “Okay. That will be three dollars.”
Man: gives the vender a five dollar bill then waits for his hot dog and change.
Vender: gives man his hot dog.
Man: “Where’s my change???”
wait for it ……
Vender: “Change comes from within.”
pah dahmph!

An onomatopoeia. This is a fun word. It took a long time to find its correct spelling. It is a word that identifies a word that is associated with a sound or action like oink or boo and pah dahmph, the sound a drum set makes after a particularly thoughtful joke. pah dahmph!

How I encounter the world is shaped by what I think. If I think I’m a fish and try to breath underwater I would drown. If I think I’m a fish and find my self drowning, I might choose to re-examine my thinking. Conditions are not changing, I am not a fish, I cannot breathe water. What I think however, may change. As a result what I experience may also change.

When I become depressed or angry, if I can change how I am thinking often what I am experiencing can also change. Sometimes it takes a long time for the change to occur and what I experience can remain for a long time. Anger can erode my sense of well being. Sometimes anger can be motivating, move me to do something, change how I engage the world. But often my anger simply distorts how I see the world. A reporter studying the effects of long term confinement in small spaces interviewed a cosmonaut who lived on the Mir space station. The men and women on the station were all aware of the difficulties they would face. As aggravating experiences occurred rather than lash out at each other this cosmonaut turned inward. When asked by the reporter if he ever got depressed, he replied sometimes he got so depressed he thought of hanging himself but in micro gravity what would be the point. If I can reorient how I see or think about what I encounter, my experience may change.

Reverend Tets Unno told this story a long time ago about something he experienced. He went into a deli and ordered a sandwich. When he sat down and began eating the sandwich he was very disappointed. He wondered how the deli could stay open with such bad tasting food. As he continued to eat he realized he was eating a roast beef sandwich and not the pastrami he thought he ordered. The sandwich then tasted great. I don’t remember the details of the story so they may well be incorrect but when his understanding changed his experience changed.

In our Dharma School service book the following Dhammapada verse can be found.

“With our minds, we make the world. Speak or act with kindness and happiness will follow you as surely as a shadow follows the person who casts it.

He insulted me, he beat me, he threw me down and robbed me. Put away such thoughts and hatred will never arise.

For in this world, hate never yet has dispelled hate. Only love dis-spells hate. This law is ancient and will last forever.”

Change indeed comes from within.



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