Shoka Magazine March 2023 – Commitment
By Deng Ming-Dao
Maiden plucks folk tune on steel strings,
Crickets chant like monks.
I’ve walked into autumnal contentment,
Yet a young boy seeks guidance.
One may be quite far along the path, but if one meets a beginner who sincerely seeks guidance, then one should help without reservation. If such a beginner were to come to you, what would you say? This is what I said to someone today:
“The time of beginning is one of the most precious times of all. It can be very exciting and full of wonderful growth. The first thing to do is to make up your mind that you are going to go the distance.
“When I first began, I made a lifelong commitment. I determined that I would learn from my teacher for at least seven years. Now, it has been much longer than that, but the essential element is the same: commitment.
“But commitment needs something else in order to be perpetuated. It needs discipline. This is the perseverance to keep on when things are tough. Adversity is life’s way of testing and perfecting a person. Without that, we would never develop character.
“Rice suffers when it is milled. Jade must suffer when it is polished. But what emerges is something special. If you want to be special too, then you have to be able to stick to things even when they are difficult.”
Commitment and discipline – these are two of the most precious words for those who seek the way.
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
The moment that one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner, of unforeseen incidents and meetings, and material assistance, which no man would have dreamed would come his way.
I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: