I decided to repost this blog here, because I hoped it would answer a recent email I got on this site?
I Am We!
Written by Timothy Harada
Published at http://sendaivoice.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=76&Itemid=1
Monday, 26 November 2007
Who am I?
I am Irish.
I am German.
I am Greek.
I am Italian.
I am Native American-Seminole Indian.
Though I tend to think I am all of these things,
At the same time, I am none of these things.
In fact, there is no "I" that is me.
There is only "We."
We, a collective whole, are all nationalities
We at the same time are of no nationality.
When one speaks in praise of art, whether it is the art of dancing with fire or the art of a dancing plastic bag in a whirlwind above a drunken crowd of people in Ropongi, it is not in praise of the artist, or in praise of the
work of the artist, per se. It is in praise of the momentary reality, which the art captures, which in that moment unites the experiencer of that momentary act, simultaneously with the energy within the artist, the energy contained in the observer of the art, and the manifest energy of the art itself.
If we experience the energy of art, whether it is music that moves us to tears, or it is a painting that helps us recall childhood memories, what we are experiencing is a momentary manifestation of the universal consciousness that exists within all of us, and within all things. That consciousness, which is not bound by space and time, and cannot be separated by the societal constructs of "I" and "We," is a conscious energy that is at the same time all-knowing and all-powerful.
From the time I was about 12, for over 6 years I tried to write music. I wrote everyday. I sang parts of original songs in my head while walking home from junior high school everyday. I learned to play the trumpet, the saxophone, the guitar, the piano, and the French horn-all in the hopes that they may help me in my desire to bring out the rage I felt inside of me for all the injustices and contradictions I saw in the world. I wanted to make meaning in the form of sound out of the seemingly meaninglessness of life.
Over those six years, a fully completed song wouldn't come out of me.
Therefore during this time, I turned to painting and drawing pictures, doing sculpture and writing diaries, in hopes that somehow these pursuits might inspire me to produce the music I wanted to produce, which would heal the feelings I felt inside. Though many people admired my drawings and paintings, they only made me more upset that they didn't allow me to do what I believed I was born to do, write music.
After a few years of collecting my paintings, drawings and sculptures, in a rage one day, I cried and destroyed them all. I was calling out to the universe that I would no longer be a pawn to praising the universal consciousness with art, if I couldn't somehow capture the universal consciousness that has pushed great songwriters to produce songs that moved people's hearts and minds.
It was about six years after this event, that I still hadn't produced a complete song, though I had many journals of fragments of songs. I was in many musical groups at the time; I was going to college at night, studying music. I was
running my own marketing company, and I was extremely involved in the kosen rufu movement (the Buddhist movement to change the world in a positive way) in Orange County, California. Yet I still couldn't make my dream of writing music a reality, no matter how hard I tried. I felt I couldn't go on any more. I felt I was a hypocrite.
I was a youth leader in the Buddhist movement, who was so active in praising the greatness of Buddhism, the philosophy that taught me that we are all Buddhas. We are all equal. The same consciousness that causes my
favorite songwriters to write music that moves me to tears is the same consciousness that I possess deep inside of me, which keeps me alive and keeps me evolving. Buddhism teaches that we have the unlimited potential to create anything that we set our minds at creating. From before my junior high days on, anytime anyone asked me what I wanted to be in the future, I told them I was going to be a songwriter. Yet this dream that I had been chanting (Nam Myo-ho Ren-ge Kyo) to accomplish, for over 12 years, since before I was 12 years old, I couldn't even see a bit of
progress in. I would have even been happy to produce a very bad song!
All I had after 12 years was fragments; I felt like Sappho!
I couldn't take it anymore, so I set a deadline. If I couldn't produce a complete song by a certain date, I was going to end it all. I didn't have the courage to kill myself (and I don't believe in violence), so I thought a spiritual suicide would be much more meaningful. I was going to give up my life long practice and study of Buddhism. I couldn't go on being a hypocrite. I just couldn't do it anymore.
As I got closer and closer to this date, I pushed myself to the extreme in everything I did. I was more intense than ever in Buddhist activities and study. I joined many more musical performing groups. I was pushing myself intensely to expand my marketing business. On top of this, I was partying with my friends like a madman in my spare time.
I wasn't sleeping!
A few weeks before the deadline date, on the way to work in Orange County, on the way back from a large Buddhist youth meeting in Los Angeles, I fell asleep on the freeway in Compton (of all places). I flipped my car off an off ramp, and as the car was flipping onto the driver's side, my hand went out the window and hit the concrete. Although I almost lost my hand, it saved my head from hitting the concrete, and it woke me up (in many ways).
As I was sitting for over a half hour in the Compton Memorial Hospital waiting room on a Sunday, with many drug attics and a lady who wouldn't stop talking to herself about the cleaning liquid she said she drank, my hand was bleeding profusely and I felt I was loosing consciousness. I had tied a towel around my hand to try to stop the bleeding, but the towel was almost completely soaked in blood. I kept asking the lady at the counter if there was something she could give me to stop the bleeding, she said, in her strong soul-sista accent, "sorry sir, you haf-ta wait like Every Body Else!"
All I could think to do was chant, "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo." As I was chanting, I started to cry. I realized that I had been chanting since I was a baby (I think it was the first word I learned, but it was something more like "Nama Nama" to me at that time.) I chanted all the time, in every situation I found myself in, whether it was silently or out loud.
It was the one song I knew so well.
As I was sitting there bleeding and crying, I recalled the words of the Buddha, Nichiren Daishonin, which I had read many times:
"This I will state. Let the gods forsake me. Let all persecutions assail me. Still I will give my life for the sake of the Law. Here I will make a great vow. Though I might be offered the rulership of Japan if I would only abandon the Lotus Sutra, accept the teachings of the Meditation Sutra, and look forward to rebirth in the Pure Land; though I might be
told that my father and mother will have their heads cut off if I do not recite the Nembutsu - whatever obstacles I might encounter, so long as persons of wisdom do not prove my teachings to be false, I will never yield! All other troubles are no more to me than dust before the wind."
At that moment, I made a vow to the Universe, that no matter what problems I face in this life, I am never going to stop chanting and studying Buddhism for as along as I live. I realized how stupid I was for thinking I could give up my Buddhist practice. I realized how selfish my prayers had been. All the songs I loved, that gave me reason to keep on living, were my songs too. Though some of those songs came to David Bowie's mind first, Peter Gabriel, or Sting's. They were my songs as much as they were their songs.
After a few weeks out of the hospital, though my hand hadn't yet healed and I couldn't feel the tips of my fingers when I tried to play my sax, and I couldn't hold a bar chord on the guitar, even with band aids on my fingers, because the pain was too intense, I started to write this first complete song. It was a song from my "greater-self," written to my
"lesser-self," that self that thinks it is separate from everyone else and everything else.
Sorry if I Opened Your Mind © 1995
Sitting on the ground pointing your finger
Searching for someone to blame
Gazing around at those among you
They're not the reason why you're down
Have you ever tried picking yourself up?
How can you say you're not to blame?
Have you ever looked into the mirror?
Will you ever try connecting the lines?
I'm sorry if I opened your eyes
Look at what you do; listen to what you say
Think of all the things you could have done
Whom do you blame for what you created?
Only you can change the way you are.
Do you understand the causal relation?
Why can't you see the circle of time?
When will you stop pointing your finger?
We're all in this boat together?
It's time that you open your life.
So you've been hurt; you've been used
We've all had our share of ups and downs
When will you stop dwelling on the past?
Stop this vicious cycle while you can
The phoenix rises up from the ashes.
The lotus blossoms from the muddy swamp.
It's time now for a great transformation
To awaken the power of your life.
I'm sorry if I opened your mind
(You can hear this song at www.timharada.com/music.html)
Though this wasn't the greatest song, I decided I was going to praise everything that came out of me, as it is a manifestation of the law of life that is the foundation of everything and everyone in the Universe.
Over the last 12 years since that first song, I have written well over 30 original songs. However, I have realized that I have really written none of these songs. Whenever I was deeply passionate about something and for that moment became in touch with the Universe, songs flowed through me, from out of a void in the universal consciousness, where the source of all inspiration rises. I have at times been fortunate enough to tap into that infinite wellspring of universal consciousness, and through that connection, a song comes through me.
At times, I find that I don't have any songs to write, so I write poetry or essays (now I do podcasts), but I have faith that when a song is ready to be born into this world, I will be ready at that time to give it birth, and if not I, then someone else will.
For those 12 years of struggle, when I couldn't write full songs, I think I was being too critical of what I wrote, so I gave up on the song before I could finish it, because I thought it wasn't good enough. However, now I praise everything I write and everything I accomplish, even if it is something that may appear meaningless. Many of the best songs that I felt I have written, other people haven't liked as much as I did. And other songs that I thought weren't that good, like this first song, have been the songs that other people have told me were their favorite songs.
However, when I praise my works or the works of others, I am not really praising myself or praising other people, I am praising the universal consciousness, that "Wondrous Law of the Lotus Blossom - Nam Myo-ho Ren-ge
Kyo," which we all tap into when we make art. This consciousness is equally accessible to all of us. Everyone is equally able to make a great work of art. Therefore, when I am praising my accomplishments, or myself, I am also praising all other people's accomplishments and all other peoples' lives. I am praising humanity itself. For I know that I alone didn't really write my songs. We all wrote my songs together. When everyone's consciousness is ready for a greater song, I will either manifest that new song, or another person will manifest it. We are all connected and we are all one, so it doesn't really matter who creates the great works of art, as long as they can inspire others to create more great works of art, and inspire us all to become more conscious.
When I do accomplish anything, it is usually through some struggle, and I choose to praise it in hopes that it will offer hope to others, that they too can create something of value out of their struggles. I try to make all of my songs hymns of hope, to inspire others to bring out their own creativity and to do their human revolution (that inner transformation to realize one's true-self or one's Buddha nature).
I keep trying tirelessly to create more and more, so that I can keep inspiring others to continue creating more and more and to continue consciously evolving. Since creation is a manifestation of consciousness, I think all creations lead us to greater levels of consciousness, and since Buddhism teaches us that consciousness is unlimited, there is no limit to what we can create.
Some may confuse my constant praising of my works as a sign of arrogance, as if I am really praising myself alone. However, for those of us who know there is no difference between the social constructs of "I" and "We,"
we know that I am really praising our great collective ability as human beings, to actualize our unlimited consciousness into forms of beauty, value and meaning. I always do this to inspire others. All people can do
what I do and that's why I keep doing it, so others will follow suit.
The Buddha, Shakyamuni said in his final teachings: "Shariputra, you should know that at the start I took a vow, hoping to make all persons equal to me, without any distinction between us…" He preached, during his
50-plus years of teachings, some 80,000 sutras. In all of them, he praised Buddhahood and he praised himself, but not out of arrogance. He did so to inspire others to realize within themselves that they too are Buddhas. The Wondrous Law of the Lotus Blossom resides in all of us. Therefore, with each song I try to blossom anew; I am casting my seeds out to you, so that we may all bloom together.