Two Frogs
by Rev. Hogen Fujimoto

Once upon a time there was an ambitious frog that lived in San Francisco. He had heard so much about Oakland that he decided to see for himself just how really was. Early one morning, he packed his lunch and started hopping towards Oakland. Hop, hop, hop, hop, he hopped onto the Bay Bridge. When he had arrived at Yerba Buena Island, halfway to his destination, he stopped to rest under the shade of a tree and to enjoy his lunch.

On the other side of the Bay was an equally ambitious frog living in Oakland. He had heard so much about the beauty of San Francisco that he decided to go there and see it for himself. With a bag of goodies over his shoulder, he too started to hop his way to the Bay Bridge. At the Yerba Buena Island, he stopped to rest and opened his lunch bag.

As both frogs sat and ate their lunches, they began to talk. They found that they had many things in common, so they sat together a long time. When they realized it was late they had to go. Then one of them said, “I have a brilliant idea. Let’s climb to the very top or Yerba Buena Island. From the highest point we can see both San Francisco and Oakland” And so they hopped to the top of the island’s highest hill.

The San Francisco frog stood up on his hind legs, stretched to his fullest extent, and faced the direction of Oakland. “Wow!” he said, “Oakland is a very beautiful, but almost identical to San Francisco. In that case I see no reason to go any further.”

The Oakland frog stood up on his hind legs to the fullest on tip-toe and faced the direction of San Francisco and faced the direction of San Francisco. “San Francisco is very beautiful”, he said, but is looks just like Oakland. If this is so, I see no reason to go any further. “

So they both hopped back home to their own cities. What they both did not realize is that because their eyes are located on the top of their heads when they stretched out tall, they were actually looking back at their own cities.

There is an old saying, “One look is better than a hundred words.” But in this case both views were deceptive because the frogs did not realize that they were looking backwards.

Buddha’s first step in the Eightfold Path is the teaching of the Right View. We must see things in their true light. Human beings also delude themselves by looking at things backwards, from the illusory, self-centred point of view. Only if we see things as they as they exactly are can we arrive at a solution to our life and its problems. Then we may live a life of appreciation of Amida Buddha’s great compassion which embraces us.

This story was written by Hogen Fujimoto. It comes from an old newspaper, THE NEW CANADIAN, July 25, 1975! I am grateful that someone passed it on to me. Rev. Fujimoto was very active in the Buddhist Scouting movement in the USA. He also worked for a Dharma in Prisons program.

I was once invited to his home. We chanted together in front of his family shrine. He loved the Wasan, four line poems by Shinran, our founder. The edges of his chanting book were worn down buy the movement of his thumbs searching for just the right 6 Wasan each day. There are over 300 Wasan and he chanted them all every year. Rev. Fujimoto was a cultivated and dedicated Sensei who really knew the power of the nembutsu of the Bodhisattva Vow.

The story below, from that old newspaper, was an adaptation of a children’s story for adults. We usually think of adult stories being adapted for children, but this time Rev. Fujimoto turned things around by re-writing an old tale into a form for adults. This says something about his character, doing something unusual, to make the Dharma available to us all, young and old.

Sensei Ulrich

December 28, 2008