Monday, May 01, 2006

Birth, Aging, Sickness & Death

The Heart Sutra says:

"Seeing the 5 aggregates as empty,
Going beyond all kinds of suffering."

When Prince Siddharta first saw the 4 sights of an old man, a sick man, a corpse & a recluse, he immediately realized that all sentient beings have to go through the physical sufferings of aging, sickness & death without exception. But in the recluse, he saw that they might be a way out of suffering by taking up the spiritual path. That marked the beginning of his journey towards enlightenment.

Although we all have to be born, grow old, fall sick & die, but are these things inherently bad? It might not feel pleasant to experience these changes, but some have observed that there are those who are able to grow old gracefully, enjoy their "golden years", & also accept sickness & death comfortably without any mental anguish. In fact there are times that this changes offer release from other forms of suffering for some people. What then, is the true nature of birth, aging, sickness & death?
If you contemplate on these changes, you will gain the insight that good & bad, happiness & suffering is all in the mind. It has nothing to do with birth, aging, sickness & death - these are only natural processes for the physical body, which is by nature illusionary. To give an example, for those old folks whose minds are happy & contented, old age is a time of relaxing & enjoying life. But for those who are bitter & dissatisfied, it becomes a time of anxiety & regret.

When the mind is gripped by Avijja (fundamental ignorance), and controlled by the craving, hatred & ignorance that arises from it, then all changes in the body causes suffering in the mind because we wrongly believe this body to be "ours". But when Avijja is broken, the 3 poisons are transformed into Sila (discipline), Samadhi (concentration) & Panna (wisdom), which are the innate virtues of our Buddha-nature. Birth, aging, sickness & death are all transformed into skillful means to teach sentient beings who cling to such delusions about Dukkha (suffering), Anicca (impermance), Anatta (no-self) & Sunyata (emptiness). If they realize the body & mind are not worth clinging to, then we teach them that even the Dhamma is just a temporary medicine & also not worth clinging to. When they realize all-encompassing emptiness, we teach them that this very emptiness is not worth clinging to as it is Avijja itself! Only when they shatter this Avijja do they realize that they have in fact gone full circle - for they themselves are Buddhas! Everything comes back to your own mind, but are you aware of it?

1 comment:

mindfulness said...

bro Wayne
Enjoy the views you shared in your blog and nice photos too. Are you into amulets collecting? If you are or even if you are not, you can visit this forum

I have posted some articles on Buddhism there which may interest you.