Monday, January 29, 2007

Mentor's Life & Disciple's Heart

A mentor - someone who patiently guides and advises an inexperienced soul. In the realm of 'life', nothing is more precious than to have a 'Mentor of Life'.

It is as good as having a guidebook that teaches one on the subject of 'How to live a life fully as a human being?', just that it's more - it's in the form of flesh and blood, speaking to you directly, without any hesitation or pretension. Watching over the ones who seek out and learn, the mentor gives his all, sometimes training like a strict father and other times embracing like a gentle, benevolent mother. Slowly but surely the mentor moulds the young minds and youthful hearts, wishing them all that one day these young, budding recipients will all be great achievers in life, rising to a height greater than his own.

We all may seem to know where we are heading on this planet, in this world. In the limited scope of our minds we believe we know what we should strife and live for, and using the given amount of time we exhausted on matters we hold dear to our hearts and soul.

From fame, fortune, mundane emotions, secular status, sentimental relationships to trivial attention and petty issues or calculations, these intangible yet existing elements have all influenced or swayed our lives in certain ways and at certain times before, altering the courses of our lives, or even deciding the destination without much of our realisation. Sad to say, for those who have sunk too deep into the muddy pond of earthly desires, their lives have been dominated and controlled by these elements, their souls inevitably enslaved by them.

Nichiren, the thirteen-century Buddhist sage, said in his letter "The Three Kinds of Treasures", "The real meaning of Shakyamuni Buddha’s appearance in this world lay in his behavior as a human being. How profound! The wise may be called humans, but the thoughtless are no more than animals." Indeed, if there is ever a single matter for us mortals to learn from the great saints and sages, it would have to be the topic of 'how to behave and carry out actions that befit our identities as a human being.'

Furthering and extending the significance of this understanding, one must begin to ponder over the question 'what exactly are we here for?' In the novel "Sophie's World", the character Sophie received a mail in her mailbox, carrying the two famous questions "Who are you?" and "Where does the world come from?" In embarking on the journey of searching for the answers she has, unknown to even herself, come to gain an answer for the third, unwritten and the most important question of all - "for what purpose am I here, in this world?", thereby fulfilling the linkage between her own existence and the world.

It is in this dramatic unfolding of a human's journey and life that a mentor of life must appear. He who carries with him a blazing torch of wisdom and justice, walking into the dark channels and alleys of this already-confused world and bringing with him the enlightened rays long yearned by humanity, he stands alone against all evil forces lurking at all corners of this world that constantly feed on the lives of the innocent and deluded.

My mentor, Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, has shown me that to live as a human being through and through, one must begin by polishing his character first. This is foremost in almost all human endeavours of all fields. Without the necessary foundation in one's life, the monuments of perseverance, devotion and commitment can never be built and erected on it.

Upon laying down this foundation, one must then proceed to undertake a more challenging task of developing a sense of courage and justice. "Justice has its own anger, and dignity wears its own crown', so says Victor Hugo. Nothing can be truer than these words. To live courageously, without fear or prejudice! How beautiful can a human life be if he is to carry this flame of justice and courage constantly burning in his chest.

It is only when these humanistic elements are firmly installed in one's heart that one can proceed to turn his gaze from the tangible material to the intangible but more important matters. For the very first time, one will be able to open his eyes to presence of injustice, partiality, discrimination, falsehoods and deceptions that have been locking the throat of humanity for aeons since.

It is only then that one begins to understand that in order to gain the 'happiness' he yearns so deeply and strongly, he must first ultimately rise up to fight for peace in this world, and happiness of all fellow human beings. It is only then that, for the very first time, he establishes a connection between his individual life and the community around him, in the society he lives in, and lastly the world-at-large, something he has never done or felt before. It is in Buddhism that this state is referred to as 'the larger self'.

Embracing this enlightened identity, one will inevitably come to realise that in facing this confused condition, this suffering-filled world, this 'amateur of life' fervently requires a mentor to guide him through. In this unspoken, quiet and yet revolutionising drama of life, a relationship is forged - a Mentor-Disciple relationship. It is as infinite as the Universe, and more encompassing than the ocean.

In short, it surpasses even life and death; it has within itself eternity endowed.

Though the distance is far, and both the mentor and disciple are separated physically, there's not a single day that this disciple does not reached and sought out his mentor's words and thoughts. Through this constant feeding of life's nourishment the disciple begins to understand how one should stand up against all devilish functions that torment the lives of humanity, and how one should confront them, courageously and victoriously. It is in this realm of courage and conviction that the mentor will smile to his disciple, and the disciple smiling and waving back with pride and gratitude. The world of mentor and disciple is truly indeed a grand, beautifully touching and moving drama of a human-to-human emotions and pulsating sentiments.

One who has a mentor is truly a fortunate person!

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