I created a swan out of an apple during Thanksgiving lunch at a friend’s house. Everyone there was so happy to see it. On the subject of swans, have you ever seen the classical ballet Swan Lake? It depicts the elegant and refined manner in which these waterfowl swim. In Japan, there is a poem that does the very same: “Seemingly a waterfowl is completely at ease while breezing on the water. But I feel empathy for it when I think of its swim-fins that are working hard under the surface.”
This is a poem composed by the vice-shogun of the Edo period, Tokugawa Mitsukuni (1628-1701). What he wanted to express in this poem is this: People around me may feel jealous and envious of my status. However, they are obviously unaware of how much unseen effort and toil I am putting in. Nevertheless, I don’t want to show off how much effort I’m making, so just like a swan, I’m acting like there is nothing wrong.
Just as the proverb says, “Rome was not built in a day,” hidden in every success story are tears. In Buddhism, this is taught by the Law of Cause and Effect. Seeds not sown never grow, but seeds sown will never fail to grow. If someone has achieved an outstanding success, we need to know the painstaking effort behind it. Let’s learn more about this through the following story.
One October, a man went on a trip to the East. A cool breeze blew through fields of ripened grain that stretched in waves of gold as far as the eye could see. Nearby a farmer was leisurely at work, smoking a pipe, his face creased in a smile.
Later the man returned to the same country, and found the waves of gold harvested into neat sheaves, lying piled by each house. From within came the sounds of contented conversation and laughter. The man said to himself, “This is a paradise. Imagine that—people here reap a great harvest with no trouble!” He could only envy such good fortune, and went and told his neighbor all about it.
His neighbor decided to take a look for himself. He set off at the beginning of May and arrived to find everyone covered in mud and sweat, hard at work. Thinking this was strange, he finished his business and went home. When he came by the following month, he found people sweating buckets in the hot sun, hard at work as before, with no golden waves in sight and no sheaves, either. He fumed, “My neighbor pulled a fast one on me. This is no paradise—it’s a perfect hell.”
Hidden in every success story are tears.
A seed that is not planted cannot grow. People ignorant of this fundamental law of causeand- effect are greatly to be pitied.
(Something You Forgot Along the Way, “A Seed Not Planted Cannot Grow”)
Nobu's View Point, by Missionary Nobuaki Kondo
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #35 | 2014, How Much Unseen Effort They Are Putting in
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