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Ueshiba Aikido e-Reflections
ISSN 1712-2341
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January 29, 2006

"When you do not dwell on the inward or the outward,
coming and going freely,
you are able to eliminate the clinging mentality and penetrate
without obstruction."

Zen master Hui-neng

A very Happy Lunar New Year to you, if you celebrate the lunar new year.

For the Chinese, lunar new year celebrations begin the night before with the family reunion dinner. This is normally a huge feast. The past is forgotten, and everyone celebrates health and prosperity in the coming year. Respect is shown to the patriarchs and matriarchs, grandparents, parents, uncles, aunties... and everyone passes good fortune around through the distribution of red packets filled with money, and oranges - which represents gold. Traditionally, the celebrations last 15 days - and families gather and visit each other throughout.

With this festive celebration is yet another reflection upon the captive or lingering mind; following the theme of our last e-Reflection. Very often we come across teachings that mention the importance of having a detached mind, or being detached from worldly distractions. There are many interpretations for this. But it does bring to mind the story of two monks who met a beautiful woman by the river. I may have mentioned this story before, but it is worth mentioning again.

The young woman had been trying for hours to cross its raging currents but did not have the courage to. The elder monk finally agreed to carry the lovely young maiden across the river on his back. Miles later, the younger monk, who was disturbed by the action of his master and worried that his master may have had impure thoughts while transporting the fair maiden, finally reprimanded his master for taking advantage of the situation. The master calmly replied that he had helped someone who needed to cross a raging river and was grateful to have been able to leave the person safely on the other side of the river. He then asked the younger monk why he was still carrying her, now that they were miles away from the river?

Young children are good examples of not holding a grudge and living for the moment. Sometimes, in a cheerful mood, my son would say that he was very upset with his sister the day before, or sometimes "just now"... but he can't remember why. So, what is it that happens as we grow older that we are less able to forgive and forget? How often have we actually forgotten the cause of our anger, and we force ourselves to remember (re-member) it from the past just so that we can feel angry again now?

What are you clinging to from your past that is distracting you from enjoying and appreciating what you have here, now, at this moment?

In peace and harmony,
Rafael Oei Sensei.
(© Copyright January 2006: Rafael Oei)

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