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A long time ago in Kyoto, I had the pleasure of dining with the first Japanese to win the Nobel Prize for physics, Hideki Yukawa (1907-1981). He was said to have thought of his prize winning theories on nuclear forces and mesons (tiny fundamental particles) while in bed in the middle of the night. I asked if that were true. He laughed and replied, "The Japanese like tales of sudden inspiration--you know, how enlightenment was suddenly attained while raking the yard and watching the dancing leaves. That sort of thing." Dr. Yukawa's inspiration did not come out of thin air. He developed his theories after mulling them over every waking moment. His achievement was actually the result of considerable effort.

A story I enjoy is told by University of Tsukuba professor Masaya Oyabu in his book Kokoro de Ikiru (Living from the Heart). The head priest of a temple lay dying. "I've written instructions on how to resolve any major problems the temple may run into. You'll find them in a box behind the principal image of worship." A decade or so later the temple did indeed run into trouble, and the priests could think of no way out. Remembering the head priest's last words, they searched for the box of instructions and found it exactly where he had said it would be. They opened it in anticipation; at last, their problems would be solved. Inside the box was a note. Taking it out, they read: "What will be will be. Stop worrying." At first they wondered whether they were being made fools of, but gradually they began nodding, seeing the deeper meaning behind the words.

If things will be as they will be no matter what, you may ask, what is the point of thinking about anything at all? But, "what will be will be" only after we have thought hard about possible solutions.

Only after we have done everything possible can we sit back and let events work themselves out as they will.

Simply sitting back and letting things go is the lazy person's excuse for doing nothing.

Nikkyo Niwano

Buddhism for Everyday Life

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