Years ago, I met a young American Buddhist in a creative writing class. Her parents were Buddhists, and she grew up in a Buddhist commune. In one of our meetings, I asked her something like this,
“What is Buddhism like to you?”
She looked down at the table for a moment and said,
“It’s like doubt things.”
Our classmates and I watched her clear blue eyes.
“Doubt everything,” she said later. “Doubt Everything.”
Her words struck my head. I thought for a few moments.
“Hah! That’s it,” I shouted. “That’s the same thing as seeking truth. Doubt everything in order to get to truth.”
I was excited. She smiled. I thought this young American could see straight and say it straight. I never heard it from Japanese Buddhists. “Doubt everything.” We focus on endless questions and answers. When I was young, I thought it more vague the Q&A the better. It seemed to me that if one said one thing, the other would say for sure “No, it’s the opposite,” and so on and so on. It seemed to me that Buddhists and artists never agreed. Come to think of it, Japanese have tendency to say “No, it’s opposite (gyaku),” or just plain “opposite” for things not opposite at all. More than ten years ago, that used to drive me crazy. But since then, I learned that many Japanese nowadays use gyaku in transition to speak simply more about the subject. I think that habit probably came from our Zen Q&As. Anyway, I just loved the young American woman’s simple straightforward words. “Doubt Everything” was the words of revelation to me which went right to the point of the Have-No-Doubt world.
In teaching ocha (tea ceremony), my mother was after the biggest room. The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement. I was frustrated learning ocha as a child. I hated it. It was always a bit lower or a bit higher in holding a bowl. Like the feud between tea master Sen no rikyu and shogun Hideyoshi, my mother doubted like Hamlet on the practice of ocha. She dedicated her life to ocha with no doubt whatsoever. Between ocha and her, nothing could enter. That I admire in people. “Have No Doubt.” That’s my ultimate envy.