Young Navigators of Life

We are all navigators of life. Probably up to now you have had to ask permission of your parents.

“Mum can I borrow the car?” or “Dad, could you increase my allowance?”

I still remember how awful that was. But soon, you are to be set free. You will be solo. It’s all up to you to make the decisions. That’s wonderful! I still remember how that was wonderful when I became independent of my family. But soon, I learnt how awful it was as well. Independence means all the end results, you have to bear by yourself. But also, having had the taste of freedom, it is never possible to lose it. There is nothing so precious as freedom, to our soul, to our spirit.

It is impossible to tell you how to make the best decisions all the time. You will learn. All the decisions, great or small, big or tiny. The only thing we can use as a yardstick is in relation with others. It’s all-comparative. There is no “absolute zero” in our social environment. This a little bit of confusing for western people, I think. About 900 years ago a book was published in China and I found a very explanatory line in it, to make western people understand relativeness rather than absoluteness. In this book a student asks of a teacher, “I’m sick of you saying every time. Things are changing. Please give me, if you are a good or a great teacher, only one principle — I’m not asking too much. Give me one principle I can stick on. Never changing. Then I will feel much easier, because then, if I keep that principle, I will never fail.” And the teacher took him out of the classroom and he showed him the scenery. “Look at that mountain,” he said, “Do you see the beautiful flower on the side of the mountain?” he said. Then he retired to his private room. Can you understand what is the meaning of his answer? The real point of his answer is; the flower which makes you amused, how long does it last? It lasts only for a few days. When it flowers it already has the destiny to be wilted. So the answer is changing, changing, changing. That’s the eternal unchanging principle.

So, instead of confining everything in a container, we have to develop an attitude of, as your school song says, “patience, patience, patience … tolerance, tolerance, tolerance”. By giving more tolerance, you give the other person more time so they could change or even not change. Change is taking place on both sides. If he or she doesn’t change, it is possible for me to change, as the environment in which we live could change. Change, change, change. You change, me change or the other people could change. Quite frequently with my experience in consulting with the parishioner, things which look almost completely desperate — could change in time. Even in the worst stormy weather, if you tolerate overnight, tomorrow it will be fine. And so the virtue of patience and tolerance.

Also, as a young navigator you have to work out how to form the will between you and the group. Quite suddenly, you will fall in love and be together with someone and eventually you will go to the church, or somewhere, and sign the paper to make the contract more firm, to be a family member again. And even with one partner already it is a group. You can’t decide by yourself any more. Alas. Your freedom of decision-making is gone. Again how to form that common will is a technique that must be acquired to make your life happy and contented. Contentedness is a key solution for your quality of life. So we have to prepare. Not necessary to think all the time. If you do that, you will be crazy! But, occasionally you have to look up from your books and occasionally you have to think. And the person who occasionally thinks makes a few steps ahead for the people who don’t.

A young beautiful boy met a beautiful girl, fell in love. Quite wonderful to see the young couple in love. When you fall in love, even his or her short points, look attractive, don’t they? His manner of cleaning his nose or of breaking wind is quite “cute”. So when you’re in love everything looks nice and to make the relationship steady, to choose the socially accepted manner, we tend to get married, to live together. Add five years. No, not necessary, add three years. Maybe one year is enough, to understand that some of the things which appeared cute were just a mistake. What’s changed? His manner of cleaning nose has changed? No. Nothing has changed. What’s changed? The relationship has slightly changed, because everything is in change.

About the Author

Genzan Kosaka trained for six years in a Japanese Zen Buddhist monastery. He subsequently served as as a parish priest in Japan. He and his wife Seiko host a guesthouse, Sakura Farm, situated near Mullumbimby in the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales. Mr Kosaka was guest speaker at the 2001 SOTE Graduation.

This article was originally published in the April 2002 edition of the SOTE Newsletter and is based on an address given at the 2001 SOTE Graduation. (Published on web site: May 2002).