Page 17 - The Way of Beauty - Meidao

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5

professor here at the University of Kobe I assist troubled students. That is how I know the dark side of student life like no one else. Did you know that in the population aged 16 to 35 years, suicide is the most common cause of death? And that among the Indians and Inuit in Canada, the number of suicides is seven times higher than average? In China alone, 280,000 people commit suicide each year, and do not forget the millions of attempts." Yamada reflects a moment and continues, "I did my Zen study in China. I studied Chan Buddhism for five years there."

An empty silence falls between them. Yamada’s housekeeper, a tiny elderly woman in a traditional kimono, chooses that exact moment to come into the room, bringing in tea and Japanese dishes. She places them on the table with precision. They begin to eat, but even after several cups of sake, Murphy is more than a little dubious about eating more cold slices of fish.

"Yes, yes, Murphy-san, what do we do with all this? Frankly speaking, who has the key to solve all our problems? Or at least -" Yamada stops his story, apparently oblivious of Murphy’s discomfort, runs his hands through his hair and continues. "Suicide, war, and the destruction of nature are our three biggest expressions of stress. Bertrand Russell, the great English philosopher, saw humanity entangled in three essential conflict situations: The first one is against our self and causes our psychological problems. The second is against our fellow man and causes our social problems. The last is against nature and causes our environmental problems."

Murphy nods, bewildered. It is all going a little too fast for him. Could he still be suffering from jet lag or is it the sushi?

"But," continues Yamada, "remember, Murphy-san, a culture never succumbs because of external problems. It is the inner weakness of its people that causes a civilization's destruction. Most of us do not realize the kind of crisis we are in now. In the Chinese language the word for crisis is weiji and the nice thing is that weiji also means 'new chance'. Or to put it another way, every crisis has two sides - an obvious negative side and a less obvious positive side."

Yamada sits with his arms folded, looks down and asks out loud, "But how do we get something positive from this global crisis? Where should we begin and with whom? " He looks straight at Murphy and asks, "Do you know the magic word? The secret formula?"

Murphy thinks, or at any rate, tries to with the strange foods and all that sake coursing through his system. He has ended up in such a psychological crisis himself

Page 17 - The Way of Beauty - Meidao

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