花 (hana): flower
“I have been practicing flower arrangement for years. Flowers are blessings. In their natural beauty, I can see the stream of time and meaning of life. Flowers have power to make us happy and even heal us through their finite beauty, innocence yet strong existence. I always have flowers around me.”
This "Hana" (flower) shikishi and chabana arrangement suggests to me that friendships and people are not unlike flowers... the impact they have on those around them isn't limited by their size. And we all have friendships which are like perennial flowers, who we can depend on to grow beautifully each year without fail. These are easy to take for granted, but need to be treasured. Occasionally we have the opportunity to form special friendships, which can be like annual flowers. Such friendships require extra care and nurturing, but once they take root can blossom amazingly to be a source of great joy. We all are free to decide on the mix of flowers in our gardens.
回心 (eshin): Trun your mind around.
Although commonly translated as ”turn your mind around”; suggesting a change in one's attitude, I think it goes deeper than that as well. I think of kokoro as a jewel, constantly being polished, and I feel that eshin is a reminder to us to look at the facets of our own kokoro and recognize our own preconceptions and biases. By turning the jewel that is our kokoro around and around and examining ourselves deeply, we accept ourselves as we are without illusions while also accepting the differences between us and others. Thus, when conflicts arise, we can identify the source and smooth that edge, creating more harmonious relationships and develop gentleness within ourselves.
勝縁(shōen): blissful fate encounter
「勝縁」shōen: The expression shōen was originally used in Buddhist terminology to mean having the opportunity to enter the Buddhist world. Over time, the concept of shōen was expanded and started to be used by the general public.
The character,「勝」can be used as a noun or a verb. In the noun form it reads “sho” means victory. When used as a verb it reads “katsu” or “masaru,” meaning to win, excel, surpass, excel, or exceed. The second character,「縁」en, means chance, connection, encounter, fate, opportunity, relation, relationship, or personal ties.
Combining the two characters, 勝縁, shōen refers to an outstanding, exceptional, excellent chance, relationship, encounter, or a superb fate. It is rare for us to get such a great opportunity or chance, so when we happen to have such shōen, we should be grateful and value it.
Shōen can also refer to winning against adversity or overcoming difficulties. The following story about a young mother who lost her two children demonstrates shōen. The loss of her children was such a tragedy that she was beside herself and lost her will to live. Witnessing her grieving day after day, a high-ranking Buddhist priest comforted her by sharing the concept of shōen. He said, “Be strong! Try to cope with this misfortune and overcome this adversity. Then move on. Make this to be “shoen”.
After listening to these encouraging words from the priest, she became a devoted Buddhist from that day on and lived her whole life positively and gracefully. This compelling story of overcoming personal tragedy and moving on her life is such a good example of shōen, the way to triumph over adversity.
We cannot help encountering numerous unpleasant incidents as well as dealing with natural disasters (calamities?). When we do, We get frustrated and distressed over them, but it is important not to be overwhelmed and defeated by them, instead, we should face them and cope with them. Further we should thrive over them by turning such bad experiences to make ourselves stronger and grow to be finer human beings. Whether good or bad, we should make all of our experiences turn to be shoen.
-- Gunji Sensei
March 11th was the tenth anniversary of the tragedy which resulted from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I thought that on March 10th, everyone went to sleep that night thinking that tomorrow would be just another day but what might each person have done differently if they knew that so many lives would be lost in just a few hours, that this would be the last time they would see their family and friends. It was a reminder to not take for granted each day and to make the most of the time that we have because no one knows what the future holds.
Tea students in the Urasenke Urbana-Champaign association