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By Deems Tsutakawa

For The North American Post

People who have visited some of the poorest countries in the world often times tell me that the majority of the inhabitants seem relatively happy.

The stories of Cubans, West Africans and South Americans being economically poor but culturally rich are told over and over again. It is said that in these countries there is live music everywhere and the children learn to play music from the earliest age. It should be noted that the indigenous peoples of these locales always play their music with an ultimate level of intensity: no half-hearted musical forays are ever heard.

When I hear these tales it makes me feel that we Americans, although economically rich, are culturally deprived. One must admit that there is a large segment of our society that eats to the point of obesity, covets material possessions that, for the most part, are never used and stresses about money until we are ill.

In Zen Buddhism, Enlightenment is the state of being with no mind. It is viewed as the freedom from beliefs, opinions, desires and concepts. One thing I have noticed is that, for the millions of people that own pets, one of the great attractions of owning a dog is that they are not materialistic.

A Labrador retriever only wants food and love and in return gives us unconditional love. It is said that human babies are actually born enlightened and only want love. One must surmise that during the process of “growing up” we learn greed, dishonesty, meanness and whatever good or bad the local society has to offer.

Personally, I like to think that most people in the world are basically good, intelligent and kind. Technology is evolving fast. Let’s all hope that we are moving forward spiritually as well.

[Editor’s Note]

Deems Tsutakawa is a local Sansei musician. He can be reached at deemst@deemsmusic.com.

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The North American Post is a community newspaper that celebrates Japanese culture in the Greater Seattle area. Founded by 1st generation Japanese-Americans in 1902, the publication is one of the oldest minority-owned newspapers in the region. Today, with bilingual articles in English and Japanese, the publication connects readers with diverse cultural backgrounds to Seattle’s Japanese community. Our articles include local news, event calendars, restaurant reviews, Japanese cooking recipes, community interviews, and more.