Friday, March 19, 2010


By Justine C. Tajonera

"I learn only to be contented."
- poem inscribed on a tsukubai in the Ryoanji Temple

An extraordinary life
is not impossible.
It consists of

I have learned that
contentment has
nothing to do with
but everything to
do with
what is

The buds in
the orchard
and the deer
roaming the park
pay no taxes,
earn no living
and yet live fully
before the seasons
or the predator

I have no reason
not to live

(March 13, 2010)
Image of a deer in Nara from

This was a reflection after seeing the deer of Nara, living on the streets and the parks, oblivious of humanity's pace and concerns. This world, except for humans, does not worry about the invention called money.

I connected this to what I realized in the Ryoanji Temple. There is a famous rock garden there and a tsukubai (or small basin provided in Japanese Buddhist temples for visitors to purify themselves by the ritual washing of hands and rinsing of the mouth) that has a wise poem inscribed on it, "I learn only to be contented." The original poem literally translates as "I know only plenty." Another way of saying it is "What one has is all one needs."

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