“He insulted me, hit me, beat me, robbed me” – for those who brood on this, hostility isn’t stilled.
“He insulted me, hit me, beat me, robbed me” for those who don’t brood on this, hostility is stilled.
Hostilities aren’t stilled through hostility, regardless. Hostilities are stilled through non-hostility: this, an unending truth.
Unlike those who don’t realize that we’re here on the verge of perishing, those who do: their quarrels are stilled.
The Flower Garland Sutra
“Inherently there are no distinctions between the process of life and the process of destruction; people make a discrimination and call one birth and the other death.” This is a quote from the Flower Garland Sutra. It pretty much sums up the equation at the top that was formulated by Antoine Lavoisier in 1789. It is the equation for the Law of Conservation of Mass.
This 2nd century CE Mahayana sutra, the Flower Garland Sutra, is accepted as Shakyamuni Buddha’s “profound understanding of ultimate reality.” It took another 1,500 years for western science to catch up with this reality.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no clue how to understand this equation, or any other equation for that matter. But, in a nutshell, we are told it says: mass (matter) cannot be created nor destroyed but it can change from one form to another.
Law of Conservation of Matter: We cannot create nor destroy matter
Flower Garland Sutra: Inherently, there are no distinctions between the process of life and the process of destruction…
There is only change of form and impermanence of form. This is the “profound understanding of ultimate reality.” This is the teaching taught by the Buddha over 2,600 years ago.
This is not easy to grasp for those of us raised in a culture steeped in the Abrahamic faiths. Perhaps that is why there is so little discussion on death in our culture.
The Buddha taught us to only accept what we believe to be true after we have pondered and considered them against the reality of life. To only accept the teaching if it makes sense to us. He tells us not to accept any teaching regardless of who tells us, even himself, if it does not ring true within our own understanding.
The grief we experience when there is a death is beyond words. All of our efforts, all of our “deals” to prolong that life have failed us. We let grief embrace us and perhaps, a few weeks, months or years later, find some comfort in knowing inherently there are no distinctions between the process of life and the process of destruction.
Excerpts of Buddhist voices across teachings, across contients, across time.
The Buddhist Attitude of Mind
Among the founders of religions the Buddha (if we are permitted to call him the founder of a religion in the popular sense of the term) was the only teacher who did not claim to be other than a human being, pure and simple. Other teachers were either God, or his incarnations in different forms, or inspired by him. The Buddha was not only a human being; he claimed no inspiration from any God or external power either. He attributed all his realization, attainments and achievements to human endeavor and human intelligence. A person and only a person can be a Buddha. Every person has within them-self the potentiality of becoming a Buddha, if they so will it and endeavor. We can call the Buddha a person par excellence. He was so perfect in his “human-ness” that he came to be regarded later in popular religion almost as “super-human.”
Human’s position, according to Buddhism, the supreme. A person is their own master, and there is no higher being or power that sits in judgment over their destiny
“One is one’s own refuge, who else would be the refuge?” asked the Buddha. He admonished his disciples to be a refuge to themselves,” and never to seek refuge in or help from anybody else. He taught, encouraged and stimulated each person to develop themselves and to work out their own emancipation, for a person has the power to liberate himself from all bondage through his own personal effort and intelligence. The Buddha says: “you should do your work, for the Tathagatas only teach the way.” If the Buddha is to be called a “savior” at all, it is only in the sense that he discovered and showed the Path to Liberation, Nirvana. But we must tread the Path ourselves.
It is on this principle of individual responsibility that the Buddha allows freedom to his disciples. In the Mahāparinbbāna-sutta the Buddha says that he never thought of controlling the Sangha (order of monks), nor did he want the Sangha to depend on him. He said there was no esoteric doctrine in his teaching, nothing hidden in the “closed-fist of the teacher,” or to put it in other words, there never was anything “up his sleeve.”
The freedom of thought allowed by the Buddha is unheard of elsewhere in the history of religions. This freedom is necessary because, according to the Buddha, a person’s emancipation depends on their own realization of Truth, and not on the benevolent grace of a god or any external power as a reward for their obedient good behavior.
Excerpt from: What the Buddha Taught, Walpola Rāhula - Grove Press, 1959
To learn the Buddhist path is to learn about yourself.