Chapter2-6 : Life can change completely depending on what kind of people you encounter and what kind
Rice begins as seed-rice, which gives rise to seedlings, which in turn produce rice-ears.
Without seed-rice, there would be no ripened rice.
Seed-rice is an absolutely necessary cause of mature rice.
Well then, is seed-rice alone sufficient to produce rice?
No. Place them on top of a desk, and they will not give rise to rice.
Only when the “cause” that is seed-rice meets with soil and water and sunlight will the “result” that is rice appear.
These factors that help a “cause” to produce an “effect” are in Buddhism termed “conditions.”
The Buddha taught, “A result does not arise from a cause alone. Only when causes and conditions join together do results appear.”
Even though the cause is the same, if the conditions are different, the result too will be different.
For example, even using the same type of seed-rice, the quality and quantity of rice produced will differ depending on the environment: how good the soil is, and how well the rice fields have been looked after.
When the conditions are different, the results too will differ.
That is why the Buddha taught that we should always choose the best conditions available.
Our hearts and minds are weak, and easily changed by even apparently minor conditions.
There is a saying: “Touch cinnabar, and your hands will turn red.”
Truly, we are greatly affected by such conditions as our environment and the people around us.
Because our lives from now on can be transformed by the kind of people we associate with and the kind of environments we place ourselves in, these “conditions” are extremely important.
A proverb about Mencius’s mother and her three houses reveals how very important “conditions” are to us.
The great philosopher of ancient China known in the West as Mencius lived near a graveyard when he was a boy.
Seeing that her child was neglecting his studies in favor of imitating the funeral rites at the graveyard, his mother moved to a commercial area of town.
So Mencius grew up listening to the merchants talk about how much money they had made or lost that day.
When his mother asked him to help with the housework, the boy would demand to know how much he’d get per hour.
He was always calculating gains and losses.
Concerned to see this, his mother finally moved next door to a school.
Now that he was surrounded by friends who liked to study and with teachers living in the neighborhood, Mencius began to devote himself completely to his studies.
His name appears in history and philosophy textbooks to this day, and there is no doubt he was a man of very great ability.
But if his mother had not moved next to a school, I doubt he would have become the world-famous thinker he is today.
Our lives can change completely depending on whom we encounter.
Even though we may be lacking in selfconfidence, if we meet someone who understands and encourages us, our life can take a great turn for the better.
On the other hand, even though we are blessed with considerable ability, if we find ourselves in an environment that scorns efforts to improve, we may well spend our whole lives without making use of the talents we have.
In order to make use of your talents and gain good results from them, consider whether your present environment is the right one for you or not.