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Why "42" ? : The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Why is "42" the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of the meaning of life, the universe and everything? Here is a probable Buddhist theory - just for fun. In Buddhism, there is a scripture coincidentally titled "The Sutra in 42 Sections", which records 42 sets of brief teachings spoken by the Buddha. Maybe the answer to the ultimate question is in all the 42 sections, which somewhat paint a complete picture of reality? Or maybe it is in the somewhat spiritually cryptic yet powerful words of Section 42, as below?
The Eye of Wisdom - The Buddha said:
"I consider the positions of kings and rulers as that of dust motes in a sunbeam.
I see the treasures of gold and gems as broken tiles.
I look upon the finest silken robes as tattered rags.
I see the myriad worlds of the universe as small seeds
and the great Indian ocean as drops of mud that soil one's feet.
I perceive the teachings of the world to be the illusions of magicians.
I look upon the judgement of right and wrong as the serpentine dance of dragons,
and the rise and fall of beliefs as the traces left by the four seasons."- Adapted from The Sutra of 42 Sections, translated by Samuel Beal
Do the words not sum up the world view of life, the universe and everything from an enlightened perspective? You can see the complete sutra with introduction and commentary at
http://online.sfsu.edu/~rone/Buddhism/BTTStexts/Sutra%20in%20Forty-two%20Sections.htm (Scroll all the way to the bottom for an alternative translation of Section 42.)
It is interesting to note that this last section of the sutra has a verbal style very different from that of other sections. In the concluding words of the commentary by the master, "The Buddha spoke this section of text to teach people to get rid of all their false thinking and attachments. If you can get rid of them all, then you can obtain genuine ease, and that is to obtain genuine freedom. Then if you want to live, you can live; and if you want to die, you can die. You are free to come and go. In absolutely everything, you are free to do as you please. This is not superficial freedom, it is genuine freedom." How ultimate! The state of total liberation! Now the next crucial question is "How to attain this freedom?" The answer? The last words of the Buddha - "Strive on with diligence!" Let's learn and practise the Dharma diligently! May you find more answers to your ultimate questions in the Buddha's teachings!
(This article has been linked from Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Answer_to_Life%2C_the_Universe%2C_and_Everything#Miscellany See also, a full Buddhist review of the movie at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/zeph/message/677)
~ Shen Shi'an