philosophic inquiry into life and meaning

...if truth were not for man the desire for truth would not be as a burning unrest in his heart...

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Excerpt from The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka


"If life and death are realities, isn't human suffering inescapable?"

"There is no life or death."

"How can you say that?"

The world itself is a unity of matter within the flow of experience, but people's minds divide phenomena into dualities such as life and death, yin and yang, being and emptiness. The mind comes to believe in the absolute validity of what the senses perceive and then, for the first time, matter as it is turns into objects as human beings normally perceive them.

The forms of the material world, concepts of life and death, health and disease, joy and sorrow, all originate in the human mind. In the sutra, when Buddha said that all is void, he was not only denying intrinsic reality to anything which is constructed by human intellect, but he was also declaring that human emotions are illusions.

"You mean all is illusion? There's nothing left?"

"Nothing left? The concept of 'void' still remains in your mind apparently," I said to the youth. "If you don't know where you came from or where you're going, then how can you be sure you're here, standing in front of me? Is existence meaningless?"

The other morning I heard a four-year-old girl ask her mother, "Why was I born into this world? To go to nursery school?"

Naturally her mother could not honestly say, "Yes, that's right, so off you go." And yet, you could say that people these days are born to go to nursery school. Right up through college people study diligently to learn why they were born. Scholars and philosophers, even if they ruin their lives in the attempt, say they will be satisfied to understand this one thing.

Originally human beings had no purpose. Now, dreaming up some purpose or other, they struggle away trying to find the meaning of life. It is a one-man wrestling match. There is no purpose one has to think about, or go out in search of. You would do well to ask the children whether or not a life without purpose is meaningless.

From the time they enter nursery school, people's sorrows begin. The human being was a happy creature, but he created a hard world and now struggles trying to break out of it.

In nature there is life and death, and nature is joyful.

In human society there is life and death, and people live in sorrow.


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