Basia’s Pearl

I received a note from my old friend the Dharma bum, Weasel Tracks, which included the following. I thought it some good advice for us all. And so, here it is, printed with permission…

Basia’s Pearl

Students of the Way learn from each other as often as from teachers.* In the few years I’ve hung around the Dharma Drum Retreat Center, I interacted with several students, deeply experienced practitioners, of a variety of culture, ethnicity, age, and gender. Sometimes I’d get a little gift of Dharma from being with them.

A cheerful Polish-Canadian woman named Basia comes down to the Center to volunteer some work-time, sometimes. She and her equally friendly husband Janusz live in Ontario, and have been involved with Master Sheng Yen’s teaching for several years.

Some years ago, in 2010, the Center’s director had myself and volunteers reclaiming space in the garden shed. We thought to give a surplus of plastic planting pots away to a certain local business with whom we had good relations. I asked Basia if she would help me drop off the items, and also see the butterflies the nursery raised and sold for release at weddings. The nursery was a few miles away, so the ride gave us some time to talk and acquaint with each other.

We talked about children and relatives, Buddhism, and the likely hardships our children will face. Then Basia abruptly turned to me and asked,

“What one thing would you say to young people that might help them?”

My mind stopped and I didn’t know what to say. But my mouth moved, anyway —

“I would say to them that, inside each moment, there is a joy like a bright shining pearl. To see it — just stop and look.”

That was a pretty good thing to say.

* “As he was sitting there, Venerable Ananda said to the Blessed One, “This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie.” “Don’t say that, Ananda. Don’t say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life…”‘ Uppaddha Sutta (SN 45.2)

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