Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thoughts after watching "Hereafter"

Ah.. a Hollywood movie about the mystery of the afterlife and the in-between. While the interlinked stories are interesting, this movie does not try to provide any answers. All 3 main characters still remain in the dark as to what the next world is like. But by the end of the movie, they have found new meanings in their lives to continue on.

What this movie really reveals is that 99% of the world is still in ignorance about the nature of death. Despite the great advances that modern man has made in science and technology, yet he is no more knowledgeable about his own mortality than men in ancient times. Which is strange, since none of us can escape the final destination. One would think that something so pressing should deserve much more attention then it is getting. However we are always so lost in the pursuit of our own desires that we either try to sweep it under the carpet, or conveniently subscribe to long existing wrong views about it. 99% of people fall into the pits of either eternalism or nihilism. Those with religion will believe that their souls live forever and those without will believe that there is nothing after death. Even among so called Buddhists, it is hard to find people with "Right View". Verily, finding one with right view is as rare as finding a needle in a haystack.

So what is the right view? Not to subscribe to these 2 kinds of wrong view is the right view. Not to subscribe to any kind of duality is the beginning of true seeing. Thus the scriptures say, "Without views one maintains the right view". It is not the same as indecisively sitting on the fence, but a conviction born from understanding the nature of emptiness. Although we think we are born and die, but what is born and die is not really us. Because in the great void nothing ever comes into existence or ceases to exists. Like movie characters dying on the screen; have they really died? The world is no different from a movie screen, and what we believe we are are in reality only projections of our own deluded mind. When the mind stop projecting, then only can one see that there is only a blank screen, and that the mind is no different from the screen; the mind IS the screen. But just in case you start to cling to that as the truth, the mind is also not the screen. If you realize something here, just see it silently is enough; do not cling to any concepts at all, otherwise King Yama is not going to let you off when you step into the "hereafter".


hoangkybactien said...

So, you've gone back to practicing Ch'an lately?

The second half of the article, although not stray from the Way in my opinion, would be tough for many to digest. But at the same time, it would be very hard to write it simpler!

The Way cannot be described in words, even by the Buddha Gautama Himself! That's why the Buddha was compelled to use the wordless method: the raising of a flower sermon. The wordless method, in my opinion, have always been the most "difficult" of all methods. Yet, it is the only way to "describe" the Way perfectly! Thus, it and together with other wordful sermons forms the complete teaching of the Tathagata.

Bodhidharma also left a wordless sermon to future generations but most did not recognize it! The patriarch's great wordless sermon is the fact that he had sat facing a wall for nine years in meditation in a cave on Tung-shan.

What did Maha Kassapa see when the Buddha raised the flower up?

What had Bodhidharma seen while sitting for 9 years?

Where are they now?

Happy Lunar New-Year to All!

Wayne Woo said...

Haha.. if one clearly sees one's self-nature, then there is not a moment one does not practice. Standing, sitting, walking or lying down, all is considered right effort. Eating, drinking, sleeping and defacating everyday, yet nothing is consumed or wasted. I already spoken too much.. will I be punched by Bodhidharma?

hoangkybactien said...

"if one clearly sees one's self-nature, then there is not a moment one does not practice."

Reply: If one clearly sees one's self-nature, then what is the point of practicing? Besides, practicing what? Is it necceasry? Is it still needed? Isn't it a waste of time? If a person already know calculus, does he need to practice doing arithmitics anymore?


"Standing, sitting, walking or lying down, all is considered right effort. Eating, drinking, sleeping and defacating everyday, yet nothing is consumed or wasted."

Reply: Once self-nature is realized, Right effort is no longer needed! Just as a person who learns how to swim. Before mastering the art, he must make an effort to balance himself in order to keep himself afloat in the water; otherwise he would be sunk. But once he knew how to swim, even if some one throw him into water, he just spontaneously make himself afloat with zero or little effort.

So, sitting, walking, laying, drinking, sleeping are daily tasks of the five gates. It has nothing to do with seeing one's own nature.

No, Bodhidharma would not punch you! But His Holiness would remind you the same question He asked ShenQuang (who later became His Holiness successor): "The words are black and the papers are white. So, exactly how do you convey the Tathagata's teaching to others as you claim on your blog's headline?" :-)

Again, Happy NewYear to All

Wayne Woo said...

So my friend, are u saying u do not need to practice anymore?

hoangkybactien said...

My firend,

There is so much water around Singapore, isn't there? And I suppose most of Singaporian know how to swim. I dare guess that you -Wayne Wu- know how to swim, too.

Do you still practice "learning how to swim" or you just simply jump into water and swim whenever you like without a slightest thought of "how swimming need to be done" in the back of your mind prior to jumping into the water.

In short, I know nobody who already knew how to swim and has kept practicing it. But I do know
whenever they get chance they just jump into water and swim. It just like that. Every thing goes spontaneously.

But be warn! Remmember a while ago you posted a good article on ancestor Baichang who helped liberate a fox (reincarnation of an old monk), and I put a comment on it to emphasize the lesson taught by ancestor Baichang (sorry, if I mispelled His name).

So, my main point to your question is once a practitioner knows what his "real face" looks like, he constantly keep an eye on ignorance to keep burning up all residual bad habit-remnants accumulated since time immemorable.

And at the same time that practitioner would feel immense gratitude toward the Buddha and all great successive ancestors who keep passing down the pricess teaching of the Tathagata.

Although sutras are copies by men from one generation to another, and sometimes may contain errors, but the essence of the Tathagata has miraculously survived to this date.

Remember: We read to find instructions, then to practice it with our mind. One just can't realize his buddha nature by simply reading alot!

Wayne Woo said...

Yes.. "Can't say that cultivation is not necessary, just that it cannot be defiled." - Nanyue Huairang

hoangkybactien said...

Yes.. "Can't say that cultivation is not necessary, just that it cannot be defiled." - Nanyue Huairang


Yes, very true, indeed.

There is absolutely nothing that can make our buddha-nature defiled (It is indestructible, unpollutable!) If there were, then it would be impossible to attain enlightenment.

It is our own habit of craving, attachment to external matters that drive our mind crazy, and create our own suffering. Once these bad habits get loosened its grips, our buddha-nature will shine out brightly.

Serious practitioners know not complacency.

Best wishes,


P/s: Sorry for some typo errors in my previous post. They should be: Friend, Priceless. End.