24
Jun
06

Sumedho Ajahn- The Mind And The Way. Buddhist Reflections On Life. (6)


  • Dying before death is allowing that which has arisen to cease. This teaching is about the mind; we’ll let the body die when it’s time for it to die. If it lives another minute, or another fifty years, or another eighty years, or whatever – that’s up to the body. We’re in no hurry to die, nor are we trying to live longer than necessary. We allow this body to live its lifespan, because it’s not self; it does not belong to us. However long this body breathes and lives is all right. It’s not mine anyway. But during the time that it’s alive, there’s an opportunity to die before death: to die to ignorance and selfishness; to die to greed, hatred, and delusion; to let all these things die; to let them go and let them cease. So one is observing death as it’s really happening, as the ending, the cessation of these things we tend to regard as ourselves, but are merely mortal conditions.
  • Perhaps death is the awakening from the dream of life. Have you ever thought of it like that? Life lived with a self-view can be a living death, a continuous kind of misery and fear that swarms within our minds. Depression is death; despair is death, fear, desire, and ignorance are death. So we can live a living death – or we can die to death before we die, by awakening from the dream of life and from the illusions of self.
  • Life is fraught with dangers, and the self is always in danger. It’s dangerous to be selfish. So actually, the death of the self is relief – nibbana. It’s release from danger, form struggle and strife, and from all the suffering that we produce out of the illusion of self. We live in a world, in a society, that hold to that illusion, but in Dhamma practice, we’re challenging that illusion. We’re not just trying to be clever and dismiss it, but are investigating: “is this really the way it is? Is this the real truth? What is the truth?” and we’re no longer looking for someone to come along and tell us the truth, because we know that we have to realize it for ourselves. The truth is here and now, to be seen by each of us for ourselves through the practice of mindfulness and wisdom.
  • One can’t really perceive the whole, vast universe in any clear way; one can only open to it. ordinarily, human consciousness is limited to the perceptions we have through our senses; it’s very difficult for us to catch glimpses beyond that. But the ore we let go of our grasping of the sensory world – the less we hold onto it and identify with it – the more we begin to have glimpses of deathlessness. We begin to experience amaravati, the deathless realm, the underlying unity, the overlying compassion, the whole wondrous miracle.
  • As spiritual seekers, we turn toward the unknown. Rather than constantly hanging on to the known in our meditation, more and more we begin to open our heart to the unknown. We relish that, we long for that: just the simple openness of heart and the willingness to bear with life as we experiencing it – with all its ups and downs, good fortune, bad fortune, pleasure, and pain. We are no longer crying for God to protect us and help us and send us good fortune. We are no longer expecting a life that offers only good health and pleasure. We’ll take whatever comes, whatever it is. This is the way we approach the future, not by looking for protection, but by opening our hearts.
  • Life is like this. All of us, all human beings, experience the loss of someone they love. It’s just part of our human condition, and human beings have always experienced that. We have to watch our parents die. Maybe we have to experience the death of a child or a good friend. Sometimes we have to accept horrendous things in life. But when we are mindful, we have already accepted all possibilities. One still feels the anguish, but one can accept that feeling. That acceptance has its own peacefulness, too: the experience of life has a sad quality to it.
  • We suffer when we think it shouldn’t change, and when we don’t want any changes. But if our mind is open to life, then we often find that it is in the times when we suffer that we also grow. People whose lives have been too easy sometimes never grow up; they become rather spoiled and complacent. It’s when you’ve really had to look at and accept painful things that you find yourself growing in wisdom and maturing as a person.
  • That’s the most important thing – the awakening and the willingness to learn from life – no mater what you’ve done or what’s happened. Every one of us has this ever-present possibility for awakening, no matter what we may have done.
  • I see our life in this human form as a kind of transition. We don’t really belong here. This is not our real home. We’re never going to be content with our state as human beings. It’s not worth lingering or hanging around in the human realm, but it’s not to be despised or rejected either. Our human life is to be awakened to and understood. You can say you’ve not wasted your life if you awaken to it. if you live a long life – say one hundred years – following foolish ideas and selfishness, then one hundred years have been wasted. But if you’ve awakened to life – even if your life is very short – then at least you’ve not wasted it.
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