I am not a huge baseball fan, and during the season, I don’t watch
many games, but I love to watch the postseason playoffs and the World
Series every year.
This year was even more exciting because the Los Angeles Dodgers were
in the playoffs, and then made it to the World Series. I watched every
game and they were all so exciting with great pitching, lots of home runs,
and stellar defensive plays, by both teams. And I watched the final game in
which the Dodgers won the championship and the World Series on Oct. 27.
We can’t help but feel touched to see the winning team run out onto
the field and jump for joy like little kids again. It is such a rare opportunity
to win a World Series, and those players and coaches no doubt worked so
hard to become champions. We also feel for the losing team, as they too
worked hard and dreamed of being champions as well.
The Dodgers players were hugging each other, piling on top of each
other, just like Little League players would if they won a championship
game. I think that is part of what is so moving about seeing such a scene,
to see grown adults become little kids again. We can all relate to such a
feeling of pure joy.
Buddhism points to the awakened life as like “becoming a child
again.” It doesn’t mean that we should become kids and go through the
terrible twos again, or anything like that, but what it is trying to say is that
children have a real innocence, a sincere heart and mind, that we must
“rediscover” as adults. Buddhism is saying that as we age, we lose that
childhood innocence, spontaneity, and joy for simple things.
When we were little kids, just to get an ice cream cone brought real
joy to us, didn’t it? After we become adults, it takes a four-star restaurant
and something like bananas foster or crème brulee to get the same kind of
joyous response. An ice cream cone from the local Baskin and Robbins
just won’t do it for us.
I will never forget some years ago, when my wife was still teaching
elementary school, the school had an annual “Read Across America”
program in which teachers would bring in people from the community to
read to the kids in the classrooms.
My wife always insisted that I do this and I would go to her kindergarten
class and read a few children’s stories. One year, I read a book on
“Happiness,” and after reading the story, I thought I would dialogue with the
kids a little and I asked them, “What makes you happy?” I thought they
would say something like, “Having a birthday party,” or “Getting a new
video game,” or something like that.
However, to my great surprise, one little girl said, “It makes me happy
when a butterfly lands on my nose!” I would never say that. Not in a million years. I would say something like, “When I hit a big jackpot in Las Vegas,” or “When I hit a good shot on
the golf course,” or “When someone compliments me on my sermon,” or
something to that effect. I would never say something like, “When a
butterfly lands on my nose.” That is the childlike innocence, spontaneity,
and pure joy that children exhibit, that Buddhism says we have lost, but
should return to.
Through listening to the teachings, through encountering the Dharma,
we too can return to our childlike innocence, and find joy and appreciation
for little things in life.
There was once a great Buddhist named Issa, who would often play
with children in the village. Once he played hide and seek with the
children, and hid so well that he fell asleep in his hiding place and stayed
there all night long. When Issa played with children, he “became” a child
May we reflect on what makes us happy, what gives us fulfillment in
life, and may we rediscover our own childlike innocence, spontaneity, and
joy in life through the teachings.