“Hard is stone, soft is water; water will wear away stone. If one has plumbed the mind, the Enlightenment of Bodhi is certain.” If true entrusting is at a distance, intensive listening to the Buddha Dharma ends in entrusting due to the Buddha’s compassionate activity. All we need do is expend our efforts in listening to the Buddha’s teaching.”
– Rennyo Shonin (1415-1499)
The above reading may have come from an old Japanese proverb that says, “Constant dripping of water, wears away stones.” No matter how hard a stone may be over time a single drop of water makes an impression. No matter how jagged a rock may be at the bottom of the river the gentle water makes the stone smooth over time.
Rennyo Shonin in this passage was talking about our self-centered rigged way and the compassion of the Buddha constantly and consistently working on us. Our minds are like a rugged stone, stubborn and inflexible. We lack the tolerance to accept other view or ideas. The rugged stone represents our self-absorbed egotism.
Selfishness is what causes suffering. We have a mind of believing or the certainty that I alone am always right. We have a mind that want to have its own way in everything, and we have a mind that loves only oneself. It is this mind that creates prejudice, and discrimination.
The more we listen to the Buddha’s words, the more we develop an entrusting mind to the truth of life and this leads us to become more fully aware that our lives are sustained by the blessing and kindness of all others. By becoming aware of this truth, our long-held complaints and discontentment will naturally turn into gratitude. We will gain the compassion that understands another’s pain because we are able to put ourselves in another’s place.
The Buddha’s great compassion is the water that slowly and gradually wears down our egotistical self and smooths the rough edges of stubbornness. Our mind, our thoughts, our words and our actions then become truly considerate and respectful of others and makes our life and others harmonious.
Rev. Hosei Shinseki leads the Watsonville Buddhist Temple. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent those of the Pajaronian.