When you understand one thing through and through, you understand everything. When you try to understand everything, you will not understand anything. The best way is to understand yourself, and then you will understand everything.
– Shunryu Suzuki
I searched for the quote in the book so I could copy/paste but the first line actually came up as a quote from Hugh Downs. “A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.” Maybe Hugh got it from Shunryu, but I can’t find a reference from the Zen master. Also, the lines I included that I can attribute to Master Suzuki do not appear together. At any rate, here they are. And I would like to introduce a new journal “feature.” I am going to write a haiku inspired by the daily quote. Why? I like haiku. They are a wonderfully creative and intellectual challenge. Some might argue that it’s not “true” or “pure” haiku. Those people can take a hike.
Seek truth in yourself
The one truth can not be known
I wonder why it bothers me that the quote in the journal book is off. I like the first line. I don’t like it less because Hugh Downs may have said it. I don’t like it less because he may have borrowed it from Master Suzuki. Do I like Hugh less? I don’t know. I don’t really have an opinion about him. If he did borrow the quote from someone, I wish he would credit him. But maybe he forgot who said it. Or maybe he forgot he read or heard it somewhere. Memories are tricky.
I do want to talk about the quote. I like the first line that may or may not be from Hugh Downs. I have long believed happiness is not driven by the external. I think it came from my very first Buddhist class down in San Antonio by the amazing Buddhist nun Geshe Kelsang Inchung. Few people I have met match the light inside this woman. She taught me that Buddhism is about being happy here and now. She taught – as Shantideva did – that you can travel through a field of thorns by trying to cover the whole field in leather or by covering your feet in leather. Her lessons stick with me today.
She taught me patience is the antidote to anger. And when I remember to practice patience, I am more at peace. I wish I stuck with it long enough to learn the antidote for worry. All I can come up with is “confidence,” but it feels like it’s incomplete.
I have tried going to other Buddhist teachings and ceremonies, but none of them feel like Inchung. This isn’t the only time this has happened. I find this amazing teacher, then they move or I do, and no one else is even close to as good. I know it’s them – in the sense that they are truly that good, but I also know it’s me and my expectations.
I want to recapture that feeling, but I can’t. I am no longer that beginner person who walked into their class those many years ago.