A WAY TO LIVE AND A WAY TO DIE

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - OPINION - By MALIKA JAYASINGHE

All the de­sires by which we are cursed leads to mis­ery; if not grat­i­fied, alike to mis­ery: if grat­i­fied, to the mis­ery of ex­treme sati­ety Yet one must think about its im­per­ma­nence, its il­lu­sion­ary na­ture. Blinded by th­ese false de­lights we cling to them, not re­al­iz­ing their empti­ness, their hol­low­ness

The one thing per­ma­nent is the re­al­ity hid­den un­der ever-chang­ing things

What is Bud­dhism? Is it a re­li­gion or a phi­los­o­phy?a true Bud­dhist would ac­cept the ba­sic Bud­dhist anal­y­sis of life as one that ac­com­mo­dates the teach­ings of the Bud­dha. It in­volves no dog­ma­tism, no form of wor­ship. One could say it is a code of moral­ity, a way of life as it were.

The Bud­dha with his in­fi­nite wis­dom dis­cov­ered the fun­da­men­tal dis­ease af­fect­ing all men and women, the un­sat­is­fac­tory na­ture of all phe­nom­e­nal ex­is­tence. It was he who raised the veil and showed us the world as it is, the un­end­ing suf­fer­ing and pain all men are heir to.

In Bud­dhism there is no cre­ator­god who re­wards or punishes us. ‘Look not for refuge to any­one but one­self. I am only your teacher,’ the Bud­dha said. Th­ese words give us the sat­is­fac­tion of know­ing that in our own hands lie the power to mould our fu­ture lives. We and we alone are the cre­ators of our destiny. Did not Shake­speare him­self say, ‘Our reme­dies oft in our­selves do lie, which we ascribe to heaven.’ No prayers, no en­treaties to heaven, no pri­est’s ab­so­lu­tion, no rites and rit­u­als can lib­er­ate us from the en­tan­gle­ments of hu­man life. As we sow, we reap. That is the karmic the­ory. So it seems im­per­a­tive that we find a method of es­cape from this un­end­ing chain of suf­fer­ing called Sansara. It was the Bud­dha who said that there is a so­lu­tion, a cure to this prob­lem. He pre­scribed the four Noble Truths and the Eight­fold Path that leads to a place free of dis­tress and dan­ger - Nib­bana.

What is Nib­bana and what is its ul­ti­mate pur­pose? The answer to this world-old ques­tion is con­tained in a word for which there is no English cor­re­la­tion.

“If any teach Nir­vana is to cease,

Say unto such they lie,

If any say Nib­bana is to live, Say unto such they err.” Such is Ed­win Arnold’s ad­mo­ni­tion.

There are the three great in­stru­ments of Dhana, Sila and Bha­vana. Sila or more aptly

called dis­ci­pline reg­u­lates our words and deeds. It is the footrule that marks out a straight line to a life of virtue. Med­i­ta­tion is the com­pass that helps dis­pel all van­ity, pride and self­ish­ness and helps fill our minds with metta or uni­ver­sal love. No easy task. It re­quires re­solve and great ded­i­ca­tion.

‘Ananda. They who are cor­rect in liv­ing ac­cord­ing to the Dhamma are the ones who will reach their goal,’ the Bud­dha said.

We see peo­ple’s lives rid­dled with lust, greed and revenge Usu­ally it is the ‘I’ and the ‘mine,’ the fore­most fac­tors in our lives, that bring on th­ese de­file­ment of the mind. It springs and flour­ished on the soil of self­ish de­sire, pas­sions and delu­sion...

The cause of all suf­fer­ing ac­cord­ing to the Bud­dha was the crav­ing for worldly things. This crav­ing is of­ten deep, un­end­ing and in­sa­tiable. Daz­zled by life’s de­cep­tive show, its al­lure, we are drawn to every­thing that brings us joy and sat­is­fac­tion. Good food, fine clothes, fame that gives weight to one’s slight­est word, are they not good things? Of course they are.

Yet one must think about its im­per­ma­nence, its il­lu­sion­ary na­ture. Blinded by th­ese false de­lights we cling to them, not re­al­iz­ing their empti­ness, their hol­low­ness. Spencer, a renowned philoso­pher, im­pressed by the tran­siency of the world wisely said,

‘The one thing per­ma­nent is the re­al­ity hid­den un­der ev­er­chang­ing things.’

Ma­caulay, an­other great English writer voiced his sen­ti­ments thus: ‘All the de­sires by which we are cursed leads to mis­ery; if not grat­i­fied, alike to mis­ery: if grat­i­fied, to the mis­ery of ex­treme sati­ety.”

The les­son to be learned is not to os­sify the heart ill it can­not feel, but to trans­fer de­sire to a higher plane of be­ing, a loftier one.

The key word that should dom­i­nate our minds is de­tach­ment. Do not cling to worldly things. ‘LET GO’ the Bud­dha said over and-over again .So weed out the nox­ious weeds of greed and avarice. Do not let it blur your vi­sion and block your path to de­liv­er­ance. .

The Bud­dha ex­tolled us to prac­tise virtues like gen­eros­ity, com­pas­sion and kind­ness to all

liv­ing things. We must shun evil thoughts like anger, ha­tred and revenge. Th­ese de­file­ments

only cor­rode the mind and heart and bring on un­end­ing mis­ery. Wound­ing and killing oth­ers is a heinous crime.

“Kill not for pity’s sake the meanest thing,

Give freely and re­ceive and take from none

By greed or force, or fraud what is not yours.”

Al­ways there will be a re­trib­u­tory jus­tice. Pun­ish­ment for evil acts will be piti­less and will go be­yond the penal­ties of courts and jails. Giv­ing should

The Bud­dha dis­cov­ered the fun­da­men­tal dis­ease af­fect­ing us, the un­sat­is­fac­tory na­ture of all phe­nom­e­nal ex­is­tence

The cause of all suf­fer­ing ac­cord­ing to the Bud­dha was the crav­ing for worldly things. This crav­ing is of­ten deep, un­end­ing and in­sa­tiable

In Bud­dhism there is no cre­ator-god who re­wards or punishes us. ‘Look not for refuge to any­one but one­self. I am only your teacher

not be tainted by any idea of favour or re­turn. It must flow from a heart full of sym­pa­thy and love for all liv­ing be­ings.

Then comes death, the end of life. All sen­tient be­ings are doomed to die. This is true not just for one man, one fam­ily, one city, but for the whole world. Some live in ab­ject fear of death but face it we must. It is only an in­ci­dent in life, a mere in­ci­dent of be­ing.

Part­ing from loved ones is in­evitable. One must re­strain one’s tears know­ing how frag­ile, how un­cer­tain life is. Wail­ing, la­men­ta­tions bring no com­fort. Let those who grieve meditate on the teach­ings of the Bud­dha, seek so­lace from his doc­trine. ‘I teach my dis­ci­ples but one thing - sor­row and the de­liv­er­ance from sor­row.” So said the Bud­dha.

It is af­ter a mighty strug­gle each one of us has ac­quired the hu­man form. En­deav­our to tread the spir­i­tual path and so break the bonds that tie us to this world, a world filled with pain and mis­ery and an­guish. Strive to save one­self from all of it and so reach that bliss­ful state called Nib­bana.

“Walk ye-as princes who fol­low the way of right liv­ing,” ex­tolled the Bud­dha.

“Be like unto brethren; one in love,one in ho­li­ness and one in zeal for do­ing good.”

This is the only way to live and also the only way to die.

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