Where is the goal of my “marathon of life”? I kept running solely to find the answer to this question.
I was born and raised in Kagoshima Prefecture, which has grand and peaceful natural features while often being stricken by typhoons and volcanic ash. Adults would tell me that I should go to a good university and live in the city in order to live a happy life. I was doubtful about this, yet I spent my high school days just studying, aiming to pass a university entrance exam. I gave up my pastimes and my athletic club activities, which I was engaged in during my junior high school days.
I managed to pass the university entrance exam. However, my relief lasted only for a while. I felt agitated as I thought that I shouldn’t stop here and live idly, so I restarted the athletic activities that I gave up back in high school. I was motivated to devote my all to club activities, so I started running again.
While I was running, I could forget about my bad experiences. It was a joy for me to keep beating my own records. I thought I could lead a satisfied life if I engrossed myself in my favorite pastimes and in achieving results. However, I wasn’t able to achieve the results that I’d hoped for during my four years at university, and so some regrets remained in my heart.
The job that I got at a manufacturing company was relentlessly busy with producing new products one after another. I was always pushed to finish by the appointed date. However, no matter how much I produced, there was no end. I therefore felt as if I was circling around on a track.
As I was going through this, my emotional support was track and field. I kept practicing during my work breaks. I was even able to participate in a high-level competition. Yet my joy of running the whole distance would fade away quickly, and I would resume practicing for the next competition. I realized that I was repeating the same thing, and I just couldn’t put my energy into running anymore.
I was not sure what goal I should aim for and I couldn’t find any meaning in track and field or my work, so I went to the doctor and said, “I don’t know what the purpose of life is.” His diagnosis? “Depression”! He just gave me some medicine and suggested I relax. I may be able to temporarily stave off my pain with medicine and relaxation, but if I don’t know the goal of life, I can’t just start running on the track of life again right away.
As a result of always pushing myself beyond my limit at work, I became ill. I quit my job and I shut myself in my house. I was plunged into pitch-darkness. One day, I dropped by a bookstore, and a book caught my eye. The title of the book was Naze Ikiru, or Why we live (translated in English as You Were Born For A Reason). I devoted myself to reading the book.
The first part of the book was full of surprises. I felt as if my long-standing distress was understood. I thought, “Perhaps I will come to know my purpose in life through this book!” However, the second part of the book was beyond my comprehension. I thought, “So there’s nothing for it but to search for the way on my own...?” I tucked Naze Ikiru into my bookshelf.
I drove around town on my motorcycle, went to parties seeking new encounters, and wrote a book about my experiences up until then. I did all sorts of things. Yet the answer was nowhere to be found. I was wandering alone in the pitch darkness. Then, one day, I received an email announcing a Buddhist study session. I casually joined that study session, and when I saw the words written on the white board, my eyes widened in surprise.
“Why we live” “The purpose of life” “True happiness” That moment was my second encounter with the book Naze ikiru (Why We Live). I began to read Naze Ikiru again. As I kept listening to Buddhism, I came to be aware that Part 2 of this book explicitly illustrates our purpose of life.
When I first listened to a lecture at the 2,000-Tatami-Mat Hall, the theme of the lecture was “The parable of the wealthy man and the beggar”. Just as the janitor leads the beggar who ran out of the
department store, my Buddhist friends led me to read the book Naze Ikiru again. I feel a great appreciation towards them.
I had been in a dangerous situation. If I had not received that email, Naze Ikiru would have remained closed on my bookshelf. If even one thing had been missing, I wouldn’t have become what I am today. All the tears I shed until then transformed into tears of delight. My life certainly has a goal. Moreover, I can achieve it in the split second of Ichinen. Therefore, I shouldn’t hesitate.
I must just do my best here and now. I vow to run with all my might towards the finishing point.
by Motoki Kanba, Osaka
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #42 | 2014, I Found the Goal of Life’s Marathon
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