Sometimes I get recommendation of books from the strangest place. An excerpt of a story was published in POP, the bi-monthly advertising magazines by Popular Holding. The story, about compassion, struck a chord and led me to this author, Kentetsu Takamori, a Pure Land Buddhist (or Shin Buddhism) teacher born in 1929.
This book contains sixty-five short stories to show what it means to learn from life’s events. Much like Aesop’s Fables, each story concludes with a moral lesson. Although much of the stories center in Japan, there are stories about historical people from other parts of the world as well. To be honest, some of the stories left me with the thought : ‘huh?’ and some chapters have a couple of stories which do not seem connected. But that did not mar my enjoyment.
The story below was the one that led me to the author and the books he wrote. How many times have I seen the scene where a child gets hurt and the caregiver starts to smack the offendable object, be it a slippery floor, a toy or some other things, as if these objects are the cause of the hurt. This story lends a different perspective and teaches about compassion. Enjoy. (Story courtesy of http://www.i-ipi.com/)
The Poor Window Frame
An Inspiring Glimpse of a Mother and Child
By Kentetsu Takamori
This happened once when I was riding a train on my way to give a speech. The car interior was spacious and quiet, with many unfilled seats. Feeling relaxed, I settled back and opened up a book I’d brought along. After a while, tired from reading and lulled by the rhythmical vibrations of the train, I began to nod off – only for my dreams to be shattered by an ear-splitting whistle and the metallic screech of brakes. Apparently the driver had found an obstruction of some kind at a crossing.
The shock of the sudden stop threw me forward, but I managed somehow to stay upright. In the same instant, the shrill sobs of a little child rang out. I saw then that the seats across the aisle in front of me were occupied by a young mother and her child, who had apparently been amusing himself by sitting with his forehead pressed against the window pane, watching the scenery fly by. When the train jerked to a stop, the tot’s head banged sharply into the window frame. His wails grew louder and more frantic. Afraid he was hurt, I jumped up, but to my relief there was no sign of injury. Then I witnessed a scene so heartwarming that I was deeply touched.
As the child’s pain lessened, he gradually quieted down while his mother rubbed his head reassuringly and murmured soothing words: “Sweetheart, that must really hurt. I’m so sorry. I’ll rub it for you and make the pain go away. But you know, you weren’t the only one who got hurt. The poor window frame did too. Let’s rub it and make it feel better, shall we?” The tot nodded, and sure enough, he and his mother together began to pat the window frame.
I felt chastened, for I had assumed she would say something more on these lines: “That must really hurt. I’m so sorry. It’s all the fault of this naughty window frame. Let’s spank it and teach it a lesson, shall we?” Such a scene is common enough, giving a toddler a vent for his rage and allowing the moment to pass.
All too often when life deals out pain, people respond by searching for someone else to blame. Perhaps, I reflected, we parents implant this response in our children without meaning to. The child is father of the man, goes the saying, and surely parents have enormous influence in shaping the character of small children.
People who think only of themselves and cannot empathize with others end up in the darkness. Those who would enter the shining Pure Land must take the high road of benefiting others as well as themselves, for benefiting others is indeed inseparable from benefiting oneself.
I left the train wishing true happiness to that mother and child with all my heart.