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Friday, September 16, 2005

Buddhism, Death and Finality














Consider movement stationary
and the stationary in motion,
both movement and rest disappear.
When such dualities cease to exist
Oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate finality
no law or description applies.

-Seng-tsan, "Verses on the Faith Mind"

From "Teachings of the Buddha," edited by Jack Kornfield, 1993. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Boston, www.shambhala.com.

James: The following story was said to have been told by the Buddha:

Self-salvation is for any man the immediate task. If a man lay wounded by a poisoned arrow he would not delay extraction by demanding details of the man who shot it or the length and make of the arrow. There will be time for ever-increasing understanding of the Teaching during the treading of the Way. Meanwhile, begin now by facing life as it is, learning always by direct and personal experience.

James: I was pondering the Buddhist idea of ultimate finality and came across these two writings. I think the thing that I came away with the most from these two writings is not to worry about "finality or 'Nirvana.'"

The here and the now is the most important thing to deal with in our lives and the cessation of suffering. Whether there is any "finality" of samsara (or the cycle of birth and death) is frankly not that important in our daily lives right now. We have enough trouble dealing with and over-coming our current daily suffering.

-Peace to all beings-

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5 comments:

isaiah said...

"The here and the now is the most important thing to deal with in our lives and the cessation of suffering."

It's all right here- right now, brother...when it comes down to it, there's no getting beyond this point, except by accepting this truth.

"James" said...

Isaiah:

Yes, "No beginning, No end" there is only NOW.

Belly said...

"Meanwhile, begin now by facing life as it is, learning always by direct and personal experience."

Exactly what I have been working with lately. I find I am often railing against what is and demaning something else - to my own detriment.

An excellent reminder, thank you.

Nacho said...

And the implications of such thinking! : ) Very much the reason why apparently the Buddha did not like to speak of an afterlife. Why Thay also talks about the pure land or the kingdom of God being in the now, not somewhere else, and why so many folks of Christian upbringing have a bit of trouble with this concept - especially if they have to relinquish "heaven" as a place up beyond the clouds that one reaches *after* one dies.

But I find there are beginnings and endings, at least to our awareness as we stop and start and mark time. That is, we punctuate our experience, and they are necessary. Now, to not attach, to not take them as absolute, to not see them as single entities devoid of connection or flow with the rest... that's the trick -- to not be blind that we can only inhabit the now, the present, and that it is ever flowing.

Thanks again for the neat excerpt James. Truly appreciate it.

"James" said...

Nacho:

Thay's teachings have really helped me see the importance of living in the now.

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