This afternoon after working from home for half a day, I walked to the station to go to the office so I can be there in person for a couple of meetings. I arrived at the station with the next train still ten minutes away. I sat at a bench with my Buddhist study “Hope for a Brilliant Future” editions for Jan & Feb 2019 and a pencil, hoping to make good use of this time.
An old-ish white man was conducting surveys on behalf of Sydney Trains to gather feedback on the station experience and opportunities for improvement. As he finished asking the lady sitting next to me, he asked me for input. I agreed to participate in the survey, half hesitant and cynical but wanting to get my opinion in. I provided feedback on how the signage could be made better outside the station and how the station needs to have disabled access to the platforms, not just stairs.
At the end of the survey he apologized for interrupting my study. I acknowledged and said I didn’t mind, it was Buddhist study, I mean I wasn’t studying for a uni exam or something. He was intrigued. He said there was a Buddhist temple near his house. I remarked that the type of Buddhism I practice was lay people like him and I and we didn’t go to a temple.
I definitely wasn’t prepared for his next question that was very left field. He asked me whether Buddhists believed in Jesus.
I was stumped for a few moments! Somehow I recovered and said, well I guess I haven’t thought about it, Jesus was a man too. Then I realised, maybe I might offend him. I gathered my wits and said, “Well let’s put it this way – Buddhists don’t believe in Buddha either.”
This surprised him. I continued, “It is not about blindly praying to God or something external to make you happy. We believe our lives have everything we need to be happy, to create value and meaning for ourselves and others and happiness for the society.”
He found this interesting. He asked me if I could share any reading material with him and if he could have my first name. I offered to give him the January eition of my study material, he reconfirmed whether I could indeed spare it. I nodded and said I could print another copy.
I warned him it might be too heavy and usually I wouldn’t give it to someone new but it was all I had then. He understood me. My train started to pull into the station. I gave him my name and email address, written on top of the study material and asked him to reach out if he wanted to read something more introductory.
I quickly gathered my things and walked to the open train doors. My last thought – this afternoon I loathed myself and my insecurity, how I needed to take two editions of study material with me and one wasn’t enough. It wasn’t like I was going to be able to read both on my short train ride, I berated myself for not being practical enough.
Turns out, it was the mystic law at work, at least for today.
As Sensei Ikeda says,
“When your determination changes, everything will begin to move in the direction you desire. The moment you resolve to be victorious, every nerve and fiber in your being will immediately orient itself toward your success.”
How my morning determination showed this afternoon. Inspiring!