Every day is a good day

I recently came across a Japanese expression and Buddhist teaching that says “nichi nichi kore ko jitsu” which translated means every day is a good day. As I pondered the idea, I thought about many days in my life that I would unequivocally categorize as “bad” days.

About 8 years ago, I was student helicopter pilot working towards accomplishing one of my childhood dreams: to become a helicopter pilot. I had just received my private pilot’s license and I was beginning phase 2 of my training to get my commercial pilot’s license. I remember getting a strange call from a friend of mine who said: “hey, have you been watching the news?” I said: “no, what’s happening?” He said “there’s a helicopter school that went bankrupt and kept all the students money. Is that your school?” I confidently said: “no, I have a flight lesson scheduled in about 30 minutes”. As I drove to the airport and approached my school, I had a sinking feeling as I noticed the police tape blocking the front entrance. It was my school that was in the news and it was my money that they were talking about. I was heartbroken to discover that my $70,000 school loan to become a helicopter pilot had vanished overnight. For me, this was a bad day. I’ve had other bad days since then, some even worse than that day. So what does it mean to say every day is a good day?
Buddhism teaches us to not compare. When we think of good, we’re typically contrasting good with bad. But this expression is saying that every day is good because there is no bad day, there are only days. Alan Watts used to say “Did you ever see a cloud that was misshapen?” A cloud can’t be misshapen because there is no shape that a cloud is “supposed” to be. We could say that every cloud is good because there is no wrong way to be a cloud. We don’t compare clouds. This is the same idea behind the expression that every day is a good day. Imagine that you’ve been planning a back yard party for several weeks, you’ve sent out invitations, you’ve setup the tables, and done a considerable amount of decorating around the yard. The day finally comes and as guests start to show up, it begins to rain. Meanwhile, across town a farmer has been preparing his field to plant alfalfa, he’s frustrated that his sprinkler system is not working and he’s worried about his recently planted seeds going to waste, then it begins to rain. The day itself is never bad, only our perspective in space and time. We wouldn’t compare one cloud to another deciding which is good and which is bad so why do we do that with days? Today compared to yesterday, my bad day compared to your good day. Gyomay Kubose says “To understand that every day is a good day is Buddhism. This is the content of enlightenment. Enlightenment is not something apart for an ordinary day. Enlightenment is to live each day as a good day.” What kind of day would you have it you didn’t compare it to any other day? Appreciate each moment for what it really is: a unique moment in time that can not be compared to any other, because this is the only one there is right now, right here. Nichi nichi kore ko jitsu!
About the Author
Noah Rasheta is a Buddhist teacher, lay minister, and author, as well as the host of the podcast Secular Buddhism. He teaches mindfulness and Buddhist philosophy online and in workshops all around the world. He works with others to make the world a better place as he studies, embodies, and teaches the fundamentals of Buddhist philosophy, integrating Buddhist teachings with modern science, humanism, and humor. He lives in Kamas, Utah, with his wife and three kids.