Chapter 7: Live One Day As a Buddha
This is true about what they believe even today, because tomorrow it may not be the same. Now we are full of scientific superstitions. Science has not changed man’s being. Just as religion has failed, science has failed to remind him that everything is an immense mystery. The very effort to find an explanation is wrong - just love it, live it, dance it. Don’t waste your time in finding explanations. This is the Zen attitude.
Each day’s life should be esteemed; Do you ever esteem your life?.The body should be respected. Do you respect your body? It serves you for seventy years without any salary, without going on a strike, without taking a morcha - a protest march - against you. But you have not even thought that some respect is due, that your body needs to be valued.
So if we can really get the buddhist function even in a day, such a single day can be said to be more valuable than countless idle lives.
That’s why I say, every night, these few moments are the most valuable moments in your life. And every evening, when so many living buddhas gather here, this place becomes the most important in the whole world - the spiritual capital of the world. Because nowhere are so many people meditating together. Nowhere are so many people digging so deep that they can find the very life source, the eternity, the deathlessness.
Dogen is right. Even if we can live one day, just twenty-four hours, as a buddha - reminding ourselves continuously that each of our actions should reflect a buddha - that single day becomes more precious than thousands of lives. And if you can do it for one day, who is preventing you from doing it every day? If you can be a buddha here, why can you not be a buddha anywhere else? It is simply a question of being alert, respectful of existence, loving; of being utterly contented with the flowers, with the birds, with the trees, with the stars. Such a tremendous universe is given to you and you never pay any attention to it. You never give any gratitude. The whole beauty of existence is available to you, and you are reading a third-rate yellow newspaper that you have been reading since the morning. And not having anything else to do, you start reading it again.
It happened that a man used to live next to my house who was retired, senile, and everybody thought him mad except me. He was very friendly towards me. His only love affair was the newspaper, and because many newspapers used to come to me, he would come every morning - sometimes when I was not even awake he would knock. And I would give him anything - ten-year-old magazines - and he would say, “Thank you.”
I was amazed. I said to him, “You know perfectly well that this magazine is ten years old.”
He said, “What does it matter? To me it is new, I have not read it before. People think me mad. Do you think I’m mad?”
I said, “Certainly not, your argument is absolutely right. For you it is not ten years old, it is fresh, because you have not read it.”