The Journey of Hisato Khalid

Born in London to a Japanese mother
and Egyptian father.

 

square abstractStill honouring their own cultures, his loving parents brought Hisato up to embrace western society and adopt English as his first language. As a happy young child he would often peacefully drift to sleep listening to his mother’s story telling, which without fail ended, ‘and they all lived happy ever after.
The abiding memory that came with those childhood stories was to remain with Hisato for the rest of his life. He was a bright child, studied well and achieved excellent results at a prestigious university, where he studied philosophy and ancient history. To the joy of his aging parents, Hisato married a pretty young woman whose parents were wealthy entrepreneurs. She had an eye for material gains and made the most of her position in life to accumulate substantial wealth. Hisato was more spiritually inclined, believing that we can never truly own anything; we merely borrow it while we live. His views made no difference to what he perceived as his wife’s obsessive behaviour with financial gain. A big house, social standing and an interesting and clever husband led to ever more success and no room for children. For Hisato this was not the dream life he’d desired from childhood. After his parents died, he knew it was time to move on.
He imagined they would live forever. After all, didn’t the fairy stories promise this? He took little with him but a few necessities and a change of clothing. With a reasonable bank balance of his own and passport in hand, he set out for the lands of his ancestors. There he hoped to find the answers to immortality that abounded in eastern mythology. First stop, Cairo, then on to Luxor, where his Egyptian parentage, smattering of Arabic and extensive knowledge of ancient history made him a most welcome guest among the local people. He bonded well with boatman Mustafa Mohamed and spent several weeks staying at the family home. They were good days, good company, fine weather, simple healthy food and a chance to meet genuine minded seers of ancient mythology. But even the guides working the valley of Kings only had superficial knowledge and it soon became apparent that what Hisato was discovering, as interesting as it might be, was not taking him towards the edge of immortality. Mustapha and his family begged Hisato to stay. Why not? He could settle there, marry a fine and devoted wife and enjoy a long and happy life in Egypt. But such a life was not long enough to fulfil Hisato’s dream. Many a tear was shed at the airport for his parting, as the aircraft took off for an interconnecting flight to Japan. Perhaps the spiritual city of Kyoto would bring him the answers he sought.
Once more, Hisato soon made friends by his humble ways, his knowledge of the ancients and the Japanese language which his mother had taught him. Hisato seemed frustrated at every turn; Kyoto had become superficially spiritual in order to attract tourist dollars. Hisato already knew as much as any of the priests, monks and scholars of their day and the only gain, was meeting with relatives of his mother. They felt blessed by his arrival; they could not have been more attentive and kind to him. Old Uncle Morihiro, as Hisato knew him, made him welcome in his own home and soon secretly dreamed of marrying Hisato off to a beautiful Japanese woman and there, in the village, they would all live happily ever after, all family and friends together.
One night, as Hisato sat with Uncle Morihiro, he told him of his dreams to realise immortality, just as the ancient Gods had done. Uncle was deeply saddened by the conversation. Being a deep thinking philosopher himself, he had found no reason to believe in the possibilities of immortality.
‘Hisato, my dear boy,’ he said with great affection, ‘only the Gods are immortal and they, only so, while they live in the mind’s of our children and in their children. It is the destiny of man to die. Don’t waste a good life by trying to avoid that which is inevitable, for indeed it is.’
But Hisato was not sure death was inevitable, there must be a way, if only he could find it. He was irritated that the very root of his beliefs, in the lands of his ancestors, failed to provide the answers he sought. He was by now short of money, having spent it on gurus, monks and mystics, but had enough for one more flight. Hisato had already trawled the finest libraries and private collections for manuscripts that might help his quest. He had once read a quite plausible report of an Hermitage of Immortality near an obscure Tibetan/Mongolian border. Here would lay the answer, of this he was sure. Yes, this would be the place.
Once more a happy family was to be saddened by his parting. With much begging and wringing of hands they watched him leave. Part of them died, for he’d taken a piece of their life away with him.
The journey to the Hermitage was long, much longer and harder than he ever imagined it could be. With his money soon gone, he fell on charity, begging lifts from drovers and other travelling folk. Much of it, though, he walked. As the weeks wore on, his clothes were rags, his feet blistered through worn shoes and his joints ached with the sorrowful hunger for rest. In truth, this was a lonely, painful road and its only saving grace was his belief that, at the end, the secret of immortality awaited.
Eventually, Hisato came within grasp of his destination, a villager pointed towards the distant greenery of a small valley amidst an otherwise barren and stony landscape. It took Hisato a whole day to arrive. By then the Sun had dropped behind a mountain peak and he felt the cold bite his bones. In front of him was a humble stone hovel showing thin wisps of smoke from a dwindling fire. The hermit welcomed him in. It was hard to tell who looked the more ancient, as both had suffered much, in search of their respective desires. Hisato was surprised to see how frail the Hermit appeared and was obviously not a candidate for immortality. Weakened by the dust of his road and demoralised by this final disappointment, Hisato collapsed exhausted on the cold earthen floor. With the last remnant of his own life the Hermit eased Hisato’s body on to the cot and sheltered him with sack cloth. Now all alone and in the dark, Hisato was just conscious when the death came for him and tapped on the doorway of his soul.
Hisato’s search was over.

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Mildred and her messy closet : Back to Basics Descartes’ Method

messy roomMildred had her head stuck in the closet and was tossing items of clothing out into the room in a reckless fashion. Renée was struck in the face by a maroon and white striped cardigan as she came in.

“What on earth are you doing?”

“Rethinking my wardrobe,” Mildred replied with a muffled voice, and then pulled her head out of the closet. “I have nothing to wear,” she continued. “I hate my clothes. Nothing matches, nothing fits, nothing is ever appropriate.”

Renée peered into the closet. “Where’d you get all this stuff, anyway?”

“I dunno. A lot of it I get on sale. But some of it has been there forever. I’ve just always had it,” Mildred concluded vaguely.

“So what are you going to do?”

“Give it all to the thrift shop and start again.” Mildred ripped several dresses off their hangars.

Renée stopped her friend. “Now don’t do that,” she said. “Some of it may be useful. What you need to do is get back to basics.”

“Basics?” Mildred emerged partially from the closet.

“Sure. The classics. Things that never go out of style. I bet you already have some right in here.” Renée started to rummage through the closet.

“How do you know?” Mildred sounded doubtful.

“The point is, how will you know. You just will. You will recognize a classic article of clothing right away. Clear as clear.”

“Well, I will if I can ever find it in this mess. I’ll have to pull it all out just to begin.” And Mildred began to throw more things out into the room, adding to the general confusion.

“STOP!” Renée shouted.

This was so unlike her friend’s normal behavior that Mildred did just that.

“You need a plan. A method.” Renée spoke again in her normal, quiet voice. “Let me make a suggestion.”

“Well, I wish you would.” Mildred pushed a strand of hair away from her eyes.

“First, don’t settle for anything but the basics. Don’t be tempted by a fabulous velvet-trimmed jacket that might be great if you only had the right slacks to go with it and the right occasion to wear it. Ask yourself if it is unquestionably a classic. If it isn’t. . .”

“I know!” Mildred cried. “Throw it out.”

“NO!” Renée said. “Of course not. It may come in useful, or I might want it. Just put it over here, on the bed.”

“And you say I will know, for sure?”

“No question about it.”

“Well, I better get started right away, then,” Mildred moved toward the closet again, quite excited about the new plan.

“STOP!”

“What now?”

“That was only part of the plan,” Renée explained. “The second part of the plan is to sort everything out in an organized way so you can see what you actually have and discover your classic items. Right now this place is such a mess, you’ll never find anything, and you’ll be discouraged before you start.”

“Is that the whole plan?” Mildred asked humbly.

“No. Later on, maybe tomorrow, after you come up with your basic items–and there won’t be very many, believe me, just a few key pieces–then you can begin to put together a decent wardrobe again, perhaps using some of the stuff you put on the bed, and maybe purchasing some new things. Only this time you’ll start from your basics and go from there. That’s the reasonable way. No more buying things on impulse.” She gave Mildred a severe look.

“Oh, it will be such a relief,” Mildred sighed. “I’ve been so muddled about what to wear.”

“Follow this plan,” Renée said grandly, “and you’ll never be confused again. But you have to follow it exactly. No getting lazy, no deviations, no sentimental favorites. Be ruthless. ”

When Renée returned several hours later, Mildred had made great progress. She had organized her clothing and accessories by season, style and type, and was now contemplating a corduroy jumper. She looked up at Renée excitedly.

“I did just what you said. So far, though, I haven’t discovered anything classic.” And she nodded over at the bed where she had placed rejected candidates in various piles. Renée gave her an approving smile.

“I can’t wait until I do,” Mildred continued. “I mean, this will really be a breakthrough!”

The minutes passed, until, finally, Mildred held up a navy wool blazer. The two women, who had been chatting animatedly, fell silent. Mildred looked over at Renée, a strange gleam in her eyes.

“This is it. I’ve found it. There’s just no question about it! This is a classic piece of clothing.” Mildred was triumphant.

Renée congratulated Mildred. She was very positive about Mildred’s accomplishment. “This will be your key to a whole new world of fashion. The modern woman, well-dressed for any occasion. It will mean a whole new you.”

Mildred looked happily at her blazer, but then voiced a new concern. “A whole new me. I hope you’re right. I just hope that when I come up with these three or four “classics,” it’ll all hang together in a total look, an ensemble. I don’t want to represent Ms. mix and match. You know what I mean–the kind of person who never gets beyond separates.”

But Renée never heard her. She had already left the room.

10 short Zen stories

These short stories will assist you in your journey to peace and contentment, if you pay them close attention and let them talk to the depths of your being.

May you learn and enjoy.

1. A Useless Life

A farmer got so old that he couldn’t work the fields anymore. So he would spend the day just sitting on the porch. His son, still working the farm, would look up from time to time and see his father sitting there.

“He’s of no use any more,” the son thought to himself, “he doesn’t do anything!” One day the son got so frustrated by this, that he built a wood coffin, dragged it over to the porch, and told his father to get in.

Without saying anything, the father climbed inside. After closing the lid, the son dragged the coffin to the edge of the farm where there was a high cliff.

As he approached the drop, he heard a light tapping on the lid from inside the coffin. He opened it up. Still lying there peacefully, the father looked up at his son. “I know you are going to throw me over the cliff, but before you do, may I suggest something?” “What is it?” replied the son. “Throw me over the cliff, if you like,” said the father, “but save this good wood coffin. Your children might need to use it.”

2. Working Very Hard

A martial arts student went to his teacher and said earnestly, “I am devoted to studying your martial system. How long will it take me to master it.”

The teacher’s reply was casual, “Ten years.” Impatiently, the student answered, “But I want to master it faster than that. I will work very hard. I will practice everyday, ten or more hours a day if I have to. How long will it take then?”

The teacher thought for a moment, “20 years.”

3. The Moon Cannot Be Stolen

Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing in it to steal.

Ryokan returned and caught him. “You may have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you shoud not return emptyhanded. Please take my clothes as a gift.”

The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away.

Ryokan sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow,” he mused, “I wish I could give him this beautiful moon.”

4. A Cup of Tea

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

5. The Gates of Paradise

A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin, and asked: “Is there really a paradise and a hell?”

“Who are you?” inquired Hakuin. “I am a samurai,” the warrior replied.

“You, a soldier!” exclaimed Hakuin. “What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar.” Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued: “So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably much too dull to cut off my head.”

As Nobushige drew his sword Hakuin remarked: “Here open the gates of hell!” At these words the samurai, perceiving the master’s discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed.

“Here open the gates of paradise,” said Hakuin.

6. The Other Side

One day a young Buddhist on his journey home came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier.

Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river. The young Buddhist yells over to the teacher, “Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river”?

The teacher ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back, “My son, you are on the other side”.

7. Time to Die

Ikkyu, the Zen master, was very clever even as a boy. His teacher had a precious teacup, a rare antique. Ikkyu happened to break this cup and was greatly perplexed. Hearing the footsteps of his teacher, he held the pieces of the cup behind him. When the master appeared, Ikkyu asked: “Why do people have to die?”

“This is natural,” explained the older man. “Everything has to die and has just so long to live.”

Ikkyu, producing the shattered cup, added: “It was time for your cup to die.”

8. Moving Mind

Two men were arguing about a flag flapping in the wind.

“It’s the wind that is really moving,” stated the first one. “No, it is the flag that is moving,” contended the second.

A Zen master, who happened to be walking by, overheard the debate and interrupted them. “Neither the flag nor the wind is moving,” he said, “It is MIND that moves.”

9. It Will Pass

A student went to his meditation teacher and said, “My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted, or my legs ache, or I’m constantly falling asleep. It’s just horrible!”

“It will pass,” the teacher said matter-of-factly.

A week later, the student came back to his teacher. “My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It’s just wonderful!’

“It will pass,” the teacher replied matter-of-factly.

10. Cliffhanger

One day while walking through the wilderness a man stumbled upon a vicious tiger. He ran but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Desperate to save himself, he climbed down a vine and dangled over the fatal precipice.

As he hung there, two mice appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing on the vine.

Suddenly, he noticed on the vine a plump wild strawberry. He plucked it and popped it in his mouth. It was incredibly delicious!

 

 

Success is a word, not a way of life

AbstractartAs a cold grey dawn broke outside the warm doorway of Cayman Executive Finances, Big John, a burly homeless man, gathered his cardboard and meagre belongings. He knew a good thing when he found it and didn’t want staff turning up and making a complaint. The night had passed with one interesting incident, a false alarm call to the fire brigade from the nearby hotel. John had a good relationship with the hotel staff, who would find him suitable leftovers from the evening meals. He’d shared a friendly chat and a cup of tea with the fire-fighters that night. Big John was a likeable, non-drinking man and previously owning a smallholding business, gave him an air of respectability. He couldn’t cope anymore with four walls, it was his freedom that kept him sane. Regardless of weather he took life in his stride and a smile on his face. As he wandered with his few but useful possessions in the direction of the local park, he nodded a friendly hello to the early morning postman and received a cheery wave in reply. They had much in common, out in rain or shine while most were still tucked up under their duvets.

An hour or so after John had left ‘home’ at the prestigious Cayman Executive Finances building, the silence was broken by the arrival of chief executive Clive ’wonder boy’ Rothenchild. Roaring into his reserved parking space in his red Ferrari, he was ready to start work and kickass in the world of banking, a euphemism for shifting poor people’s money into rich people’s offshore bank accounts. Even with the windows closed, his new age ‘rock a bully’, music almost ruptured the eardrums of a passing stray dog. Clive made his way to the grand entrance, where he had to wait briefly for the caretaker to open up. ‘Good day sir, lovely morning now,’ he welcomed with a smile. Clive stared in fury at the cretin someone had obviously mistaken as suitably employable and ignored him. Clive took the lift, one floor up, and hoped his dim witted secretary would be in early just as he’d texted, late last evening.
Clive entered his office, turned up the heating and took off his coat, briefly stopping to admire himself in one of several office mirrors. He sat at his desk, turned on his computer and drummed his fingers impatiently while it warmed up. It requested his personal password to continue.
He tapped them in slowly with one clumsy finger, S H E E P, a £ sign and a smiley face. His soulless and greedy eyes led his equally soulless and greedy mind to look out of the window and survey the land of peasants, all ready for fleecing. He snarled a few words at his secretary as she hurried in, looking flustered. ‘Get your act together deary, I’ve got important friends visiting today. No mistakes, right? Smarten yourself up too, you look a mess, like you’ve been up all night.’
She forced a smile, looking after two small children and a sick husband was taking its toll on her and she’d had to pay through the nose to find a last minute childminder so she could arrive early for work. She desperately needed to keep this job. ‘Yes sir, of course sir. It’s the mayor and head of chamber of commerce isn’t it? I have everything organised for them, just as you asked.’
As she bustled off to prepare for his guests, he sneered under his breath, ‘Dopey woman, no idea why I keep her.’
**********************

                  Let us consider the successes of both men.

One of them can find his way anywhere in peace and calm regardless of the weather, he is given food freely by those who care for him. He has no need of modern technology to get him though the day. He uses his mind creatively and is always willing to help others – he knows the meaning of gratitude and of empathy. He is rich in spirit and at peace with the world despite his various hardships. He lives in tune with the seasons. He is content with his cardboard box in the warm doorway of Cayman Buildings.

The other one, has no friends except on social media, where pretence takes the place of honesty. He cannot find his way home without sat nav and is afraid to go out at night. No one makes him a dinner unless he pays for it. He must have holidays abroad in warm countries but no place he considers dirty. He has burglar alarms and cameras at his house. When not bragging on facebook he watches TV. His success, if that is what you call it, comes from robbing old ladies of their pensions. (Perfectly legal, the small print explains the risks.) He is despised by all who meet him. He has no soul. But his Ferrari tells the world he is successful.

What is your choice?
You’ll hear your inner voice, but will you listen? 

The Secret of True Happiness

imagesOnce upon a time there was a King who was very generous towards his citizens but somehow remained unhappy and sad. Various ministers of his cabinet kept on thinking of different ways of rescuing him from the depression, but none succeeded. One day one wise person advised, ” Bring the apparel of the happiest person of this kingdom and make the King wear it. This shall ward off the King’s obscurity and sadness.”

People ran in different directions to search for the happiest man. Everyone tried hard to find such a person even in anticipation of winning a handsome reward.

After days of hunting, one of the ministers came across a saint who was totally engrossed in meditation & public benevolence. He seemed unaware of the futile happenings around him. He looked very happy, content and fully devoted towards his objective. The saint always wore an infectious smile on his face which attracted the minister’s attention. The minister implored him to go along with him as the King was in dire need of meeting him. The saint reluctantly agreed to meet the King.

Once in the court, the King welcomed and embraced him. After exchanging a few pleasantries he offered him baskets full of gems and jewelery. The Saint got intrigued and inquired, ” Son! I am a Saint. Hence all these valuables hold no significance for me. Kindly tell me the purpose of our meeting.”

The King hesitantly explained his condition and begged for his dress. The saint mysteriously grinned and announced, ” I am just a disciple of ideals I have set for my life. I only possess bare necessities for my survival and I lead a life, like that of flowing stream. One day here, the other day there, ever roaming. Therefore, I’m sorry, I don’t have any shirts to spare.” The King got enlightened and understood that contentment and gaiety do not lie in materialistic possessions.

The primary reason for a person’s dejection and sufferings is his own desires and fantasies. The moment we free ourselves from their shackles we experience satisfaction, salvation and happiness all around.