Recently I read an excerpt from a book by Venerable Master Hsing Yuncalled Keys to Living Well. In it he talks about how life is like driving a car. I loved how he saw the spiritual meaning in this everyday action of driving a car. Rather then try to capture the essence of what he said, which i am not sure I could, I am just copying the excerpt here. I know what it means to me and hope that each of you will find your own meaning in this reflection.
"In order to live safely in the world, our conduct must be lawful and orderly like cars having to observe traffic regulations on the road. In this sense, life is like driving a car. The following are five analogies:
"1. To avoid speeding, one must observe proper limits. We all know that speeding can be hazardous, and if we are not vigilant with respect to our own limits in life, it would be as dangerous as exceeding the speed limit on the road. In contrast, if we all abide by our own place and limits, not only will we observe the traffic regulations, but we will also not transgress in our conduct. Each and every car that observes the traffic regulations ensures the smooth flow of traffic and safety on the road. Likewise, when we abide by our proper limits in life, we will be safe in our place and dutiful in shouldering our responsibilities. When we abide by proper limits, we can ensure a happy and safe life.
"2. To give pedestrians the right of way, one must be yielding. Some drivers tend to speed through crosswalks, not yielding at all to pedestrians. This behavior shows a lack of respect for the lives of others and ourselves. According to The Doctrine of the Mean, 'The world is peaceful, for the virtuous are deeply respectful.' If everyone can be yielding, there will be no conflicts. During the Period of the Warring States, the prime minister of Zhao was willing to yield the road to the state's most powerful general, who had planned to openly insult him. By yielding, the prime minister not only humbled the arrogant general, but he also achieved the greater goal of enlisting the general's support in preventing the invasion of the Quin armies. Therefore, yielding can ensure a peaceful life that is stable and harmonious.
"3. To stop at railroad crossings, one must have patience in dealing with circumstances. Tragedy is just around the corner for those who are in a mad rush to beat an oncoming train just to save a little time. As the saying goes, 'Failure to forbear in small matters spoils great undertakings.' A moment of patience may bring longevity to one's life. It can also be the source for accumulating strength. For example, the ruler of Yue had allowed himself to endure humiliation for a tome for he could avenge the defeat of his state. As a result, he was able to rise to power again. This illustrates how a life of patience can bring about greater accomplishments.
"4. To not run a red light, one must have restraint. Some people will knowingly risk the danger of running a red light. They are like people who willfully disregard the traps of sensual pleasures and deliberately indulge themselves, thereby becoming helpless slaves to materialism. If they persist in their indulgences, they will certainly degenerate morally and spiritually. As the saying goes, 'Droplets of water can pierce a stone.' If we know how to exercise restraint, and not aggressively seek a foolish and risky lifestyle, we will surely have a safe and happy life.
"5. Not to honk unnecessarily, one must be reticent. Good drivers never honk their horns unnecessarily because they can remain calm under any circumstance and navigate their way through traffic by maintaining the right speed and distance. They are like those with virtue, learning, and cultivation in life, who know how to respond to any situation as needed, even be reticent if necessary, and never speak inappropriately. Such people will always think twice before doing or saying anything that would generate gossip or rumor. Therefore, a life of reticence is a life of cultivation and propriety.
"Life is like driving a car. We need to cultivate these qualities in order to ensure a smooth and safe journey."