4

The Unknown

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kanji

Security and changelessness are fabricated by the ego-dominated mind and do not exist in nature. To accept insecurity and commit oneself to the unknown creates a relaxing faith in the universe.

Padding along barefoot with his ragged old robe that doesn't quite cover him and all his worldly goods in the bundle on his back, not knowing where his next meal will come from nor where he'll sleep tonight, Hotei certainly seems to have everything—everything he wants. Having committed himself to the unknown, he has accepted his insecure lot; his broad smile shows that he's prepared for anything. If he were dominated by an ego that demanded of life the unchanging maintenance of security, he would have that tight-lipped, frowning, uptight, ulcerous look we see on so many faces today.

What do you think when you see Hotei? How do you feel when you see this early specimen of the hippie? Can you help smiling in sympathy with Hotei?

Could you live like Hotei? Would you aspire to? Few in our culture can directly imitate him, but can he not be a symbol of an ideal state of mind toward which to stretch?

Might there be a middle way, a razor's edge, between trusting God and keeping our powder dry? What is the cost you pay for trying to keep your powder dry? We must realize that degrees of humidity vary and that bad storms do occur. To comfort yourself do you build imaginary pictures of eternally dry powder kegs, even though such do not actually exist?

kanji

Hotei has given up such fancies, and by the expression on his face we can tell that he has decided to accept with grace whatever comes by way of food and lodging. Freedom, he seems to be saying, is not getting what you like but liking what you get. He's got a bindle and a smooth path and he likes the whole situation.