Two relative terms, “positive” and “negative”, are very much in current use nowadays, but their interpretation is ambiguous and indefinite as calling the “east” and “west” positions. According to general conception, “positive” means striving, bold, going forward and discontented, and, in contrast, “negative” means indolent, timid, retreating and contented. In view of the fact that without working for their living, monks and nuns live in mountains, and out-of-way places exclusively, and lay Buddhists usually shun themselves from social activities, Buddhism is generally misconceived to be of pessimistic and passive nature. However, in reality, Buddhism is fundamentally and essentially a rational religion. In seeking to solve the riddle of life and the universe, Buddhists have to live in secluded places, where, free of temptations and obstructions, they can carry on their spiritual cultivation vigorously with undivided attention, so much so that they have to forego working for their living; strictly speaking, the role of productivity played by Buddhists is just as important as, if not more important than, that of statesmen or educationalists; certainly they would not keep themselves away from society where they can be helpful and serviceable to others, though merely for personal enjoyment and advantages, they would not care to go about and mix up in social circles at all; although they may appear to be unusually passive and socially inactive, owing to their indifference to fame, and other self-interests, they always guard themselves vigilantly against the evils of temptation and move vigorously toward the Path of Enlightenment. After all, what is the incentive to be positive? In the conventional view, the most desirable and enviable things are wealth and fame; it is for those things that people would strive, by every means to gain, would become fearless to meet every difficulty and to overcome every obstruction, would be going ahead of other people in this competing world and even with their attainment of those things, would still be discontented and crave for more and more. On the other hand, because of their lacking such incentive, Buddhists are said to be passive – lazy, timid, backward and simple-minded. However, on no account are Buddhists lacking the impetus of some sort of driving power; it is only for the realization of Enlightenment that their best effort is exerted. It is in order that sentient beings may attain Absolute Equality, may enjoy Absolute Freedom, may liberate themselves from suffering, may attain Wisdom inherent in them, and may realize Supreme Perfect Enlightenment, that they are determined to do their utmost – even at the cost of their lives – without retreat and without fear, regardless of hundreds and thousands of kalpas it may take for the fulfilment of those objectives, in accord with the spirit of “as long as there remains a single being who fails to become Buddha, I vow I’ll not enter into Nirvana.”; such spirit is truly courageous, going forward, and striving discontentedly till those objectives are accomplished; indeed, this is the way to be truly active and positive.

The fundamental positive thing of Buddhism is to strive for freedom. Those general freedoms sought by us are freedom of the body, freedom of residence, occupation, assemble, speech, freedom of the press, publication, belief and thought, and with the “Never-Ending Freedom” sponsored by President Roosevelt, the sphere of freedom has been expanded to a great extent. However, in the eyes of Buddhism, the scope of all those freedoms is too restricted, their standard too low and freedom-seeders are too timid to ask for that Fundamental Freedom which everyone is entitled to enjoy. To illustrate, once a beggar dreamed that he became a king. Replying to the question what he would enjoy most if he were a king, he said readily, “as a king, I could have doughnuts and pancakes to my heart’s content.” Regarding the question of freedom, ironically we are as miserable and pitiable as that beggar, for although it is in our own right to enjoy that Fundamental Freedom, yet few of us are aware of it and bold enough to ask for it. However, the stout-hearted Buddhist takes a radical stand; to be absolutely free, he would go so far as to break away from all the bounds of the spheres of freedom and all the criteria of freedom. First of all, he asks for absolute freedom of the six elements of the body. The functioning of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind should be absolutely free of obstruction and hindrance. First, the eye. He would ask: why is it that the eye can see only a small section of the light belt and no more, only the violet light and not the light waves outside, only the infra-red light but not the light waves within, and the wave-lengths of radio? ; why is it incapable of seeing those mountains, rivers, living beings and things of all satellites?; and also electrons, cosmic rays and the magnetic lines of force? Again, why it cannot see things of the past and the future? Why is the eyesight confined only to things within its range and not extended further? In short, he asks that the functioning of the eye be absolutely free from any impediment. Next, the ear. He would ask: why is it that the ear cannot hear sound waves below twenty, and above twenty thousand, periodic vibrations per unit time?; why it cannot hear speeches and voices and dialects of all sentient beings of the universe?; also the vibrations of particles?; why is it that it is not free to hear sound waves other than those of the present moment? In short, he asks that the functioning of the ear be absolutely free of every obstruction. Next, the nose. He would ask: why is the nose unable to be free of restrictions of time and space so that it may smell the scents all over the world? Again, why can’t it smell its own smell? And why can’t the various fragrant and bad smells be differentiated by means of periodical angular and straight line and curve? All he asks is that the functioning of the nose be absolutely free of every obstruction. Next, the tongue. He would ask: why the tongue cannot taste itself and tell the taste of something before touching it? Why can’t it speak the spoken words of all sentient beings? Again, why can’t it relay its sayings to all sentient beings of the world and beyond? Why can’t it speak to every variety of sentient beings in one voice to be comprehensible to them all? He asks that the functioning of the tongue be absolutely free to speak and to taste without obstruction. Next, on the body’s functioning, he would ask: Why can’t the body move about freely in the space from one satellite to another without being subjected to the influence of the gravitation force? Why can’t it transform itself freely at its own will to be large or small, or as large as the void, or small enough to get itself into an atom so as to disrupt the latter’s working system? Again, why can’t it push the whole solar system into the Milky Way? Why can’t it feel the sufferings of infinite sentient beings? So he would ask that the body and every part of it be free to function without obstruction. Lastly, the mind. He would ask: why is the mind unable to know the phenomenal transformations of the universe in the past, at the present and in the future, and also the minds of all sentient beings? Why can’t it be detached from the common “eight Categories of suffering”? Why can’t it anticipate the conditions of the space above the four dimensions? Also, why can’t it change material things freely at its own will? Why can’t it detach itself from the phenomena confronting it so that it may think freely? In short, according to the Buddhist, the eye, the ear, the nose, the tongue, the body and mind should be absolutely free of defilements and obstructions. If you think what the Buddhist asks in the above is unreasonable, your line of thinking may be said to be similar to the beggar’s contentment with pancakes only. All in all, the positive spirit to seek right understanding of the Truths of life and the universe, and, meanwhile, not to be contented with present conditions of the mundane world is something unique in Buddhism and not to be found elsewhere.