Satoshi's Book Club

A friend of mine said, “I don’t like him.” I asked her why. Then she said, “Because he often tells me things that aren’t true.” I didn’t ask her if she herself always tells the truth, because I could foresee her answer: “I never lie.” According to research, an average person tells lies ten to two hundred times a day. Buddha encourages us to see our true self - that we are continually telling lies. In the Larger Sutra of Infinite Life, he declares that “the heart and the mouth do not agree; there is truth neither in what people say, nor in what they think.”

Back in the early postwar era in Japan, when cars were scarce, everyone got around by bus or train. One day I found myself riding on a nearly empty bus. I picked a seat, sat back, and relaxed. Across from me sat a distinguished-looking man in his fifties whose fly, I couldn’t help noticing, was unbuttoned. (This was in the days before zippers came into common use.) I contemplated what to do, but of course he had to be told. I slipped over beside him and quietly let him know the situation, man-to-man. Some men might have taken offense at being told such a thing, but not he. After a momentary look of surprise, he thanked me politely and gave a rueful smile as he covered himself with the magazine he’d been reading and did up his fly.

Relieved, I returned to my seat, planted my feet on the floor, folded my arms, and looked around again. Lo and behold, the distinguished-looking man across the way got up and came over to sit beside me. Wondering what on earth he could want, I tensed with expectation as he brought his lips to my ear and murmured with a smile, “Your buttons are undone, too.”

With a start, I reached down and realized he was right. My cheeks burned in embarrassment. To cover my confusion, I gave a rueful smile and thanked him.

The proverb has it, “Observe the behavior of others and correct your own.” I was made to realize then that even such apparently obvious sayings must never be taken lightly.

(Unshakable Spirit, “Your Fly Is Open, Too” Observe the Behavior of Others and Correct Your Own)

Satoshi Hasegawa, Missionary

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #31, Satoshi's Book Club

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