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Re: The ugly void

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  • amara chay
    ... has been ... offer some ... the ... with Khun ... he has ... with Pali ... on by ... of ... haunting, but ... much for ... (certainly I ... on me ... one
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 2, 2000
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      > We recently received a letter from a friend of 'mature' years who
      has been
      > experiencing some difficulties which some of you may be able to
      offer some
      > useful comments on.
      >
      > His wife recently had an accident which seems to have triggered off
      the
      > following thoughts. I might add that he joined only one discussion
      with Khun
      > Sujin in Hong Kong some years ago and now lives in London. Although
      he has
      > studied some books on Buddhism generally, he is not very familiar
      with Pali
      > terms. Pls address any responses to 'Dear N.' which I can then send
      on by
      > snail mail.
      >
      > I quote parts from his letter below.
      >
      > 'your card and your concern are so welcome. We have had the feeling
      of
      > being alone together for a long time now...and it is somewhat
      haunting, but
      > being alone ALONE is a difficult one here (in London)....
      >
      > I have not mentioned this to anyone but B. (his wife) and she isn't
      much for
      > such dialogue now, but being in essence a secular humanist
      (certainly I
      > don't believe there is a divine person who looks or should look....
      on me
      > with a special kindness (why should that be?), the void is ugly...no
      one to
      > pray to, even knowing that there is no stimulus/response mechanism.
      >
      > Sorry for the sense of emptiness. The time is tough, but hopefully
      I'll be
      > tougher,
      > best,
      > N.


      Dear Sarah,

      Wouldn't it be wonderful if he could communicate with us here on the
      list via the internet? That should fill his void some!

      Failing that, I think you might send him some of our articles from
      the site, such as:
      Q&A 2

      From: "amarin olarn" <amarinolarn@...>
      To: Kesinee@...
      Subject: Dhamma question
      Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000 10:34:59 GMT

      Please answer Khun Kalya's question, 'Why were we born?'
      Thank you,
      Olarn

      Why were we born?


      Because it is such a short question, before answering we would like
      to establish some common grounds as to the aspects of the question
      you asked about. What does the word 'why' infer? Does it mean
      one or all of the following:
      to perform which functions, for what purpose, or is it a reproach,
      whyever were we born, maybe it would have been better that we had
      not. This answer is intended for these three interpretations, so if
      we have misunderstood the question please send us another.

      If you wanted to know what we are to do to be worth the while to
      have been born, you must have heard that to be born a human is very
      difficult. When life leaves a world or a lifetime, the chances of
      being reborn in other worlds than the human one is extremely high.
      The best thing about being born a human is the privilege to study
      the dhamma towards the realization and attainment of nibbana.
      Planes of existence lower than the human one are too tormenting,
      while the higher ones are too pleasurable, or have too long a
      lifespan to easily see the dukkha of samsara-vatta. Even the
      Buddhas were all enlightened in their human rebirths. Since we were
      born humans, especially having had the chance to hear the Buddha's
      teachings of the dhamma, we should use this rare privilege to
      develop sati-patthana, increase panna and even if we do not become
      enlightened to attain nibbana in this lifetime, we would have
      accumulated conditions for enlightenment in future lives.

      If you wondered for what purpose we were born, that it seems
      useless, perhaps even harmful, or that there should never have been
      any humans at all, then the distinct births of things is not
      dictated or controlled by anyone, but happen according to causes and
      conditions. Kamma performed in the past, both kusala and akusala,
      would be paccaya for citta, cetasika and rupa to arise, and each
      time they fall away, there are conditions for others to immediately
      arise in continuation. As long as there are conditions to be born,
      there must be rebirth. Through eternity we have traveled the
      innumerable rounds of samsara-vatta; according to worldly values we
      would have done incalculable deeds of goodness and maybe much harm
      also. We must have already been born both in the highset heaven and
      the lowest hell. The worlds or rebirths are not important in the
      least. What matters is whether we realize that samsara-vatta is to
      be relinquished. If we really see the harm of being born and truly
      wish to abandon it, we would be able to do so by acheiving nibbana.
      Those who have attained nibbana are the arahanta. They have
      abandoned both the kusala and akusala, eradicated all paccaya for
      rebirths. Nibbana is the reality that does not arise, therefore it
      does not fall away.

      The reason that some wonder why we were ever born is because they
      feel that life is dukkha and wish to escape it. The important thing
      is whether we understand what dukkha is. How do you understand the
      tilakkhana or the three characteristics of sankhara-dhamma, namely
      aniccata, dukkhata and anattata? Dukkha is not the reality that
      dislikes, is troubled or worried, or sad and depressed. The
      Buddhist terms for these characteristics are dosa. If the causes of
      these feelings were to disappear, would you still feel that life is
      unhappiness? Dukkha, the characteristic of all sankhara-dhamma, is
      the characteristic of impermanence, being subject to changes, to
      arisings and falling aways. In reality we have gone through these
      rounds of rebirth for such an eternity because of our attachments to
      life, or to being and existing. This pleasure in being born is
      there at every birth, even in a person who is born in the lowest
      hell. As soon as the patisandhi citta had arisen, the pleasure in
      being born would arise. This contentment is extremely hard to
      abandon, it takes the inestimably supreme panna of the
      Samma-sambuddha to realize and to relinquish. The Buddha taught us
      to abandon ties, withdraw from attachments to kama, to see the harm
      of kama, and showed us dukkha, the causes of dukkha, the eradication
      of dukkha, and the practice towards the eradication. Only when we
      are able to acheive what he has shown us can we really transcend
      dukkha.


      *********


      Also perhaps the second part of Q&A 3:

      Question: What to do if one wants to practice the dhamma towards
      release, when one has to live in this world of chaos, confusion and
      contention? Having seen birth, aging, sickness and death, I don't
      want to be reborn.

      Answer: You 'wish to practice the dhamma towards release' but feel
      that the life full of chaos, confusion and contention presents an
      obstacle. On this subject, we would like you to consider the lives
      of two savaka during the times of the Buddha, namely the venerable
      Yasa and the slave woman Rajjumala when they first heard and became
      steadfast in Buddhism.

      Yasa had an extremely comfortable life, as the only son of a
      wealthy family. That he walked along musing, 'what a chaotic,
      problematic place this is' was not the result of any physical or
      mental disaster, but because his accumulations made him see the
      truth that to be born and alive was dukkha, the cause of problems
      and chaos. Thus when he heard the dhamma he was able to immediately
      realize the ariya-sacca-dhamma with his fully accumulated panna.

      The life of Rajjumala was the direct opposite; she was a slave
      woman whose master cruelly abused in all manners. She was
      repeatedly seized by the hair and injured, forcing her to shave her
      head in the hope of avoiding the punishment. Instead the master
      wound a cord around her head in order to seize and beat and abuse
      her as before, so that she was known as Rajjumala. She was so tired
      of living that she wanted to commit suicide. Then she met the
      Buddha and heard his teachings which made her reconsider and ended
      her unhappiness, rendering her mind light and clear, steadfast in
      the dhamma, until she realized the ariya-sacca-dhamma to become the
      sotapanna.

      These two examples show that the comfort or the chaotic problems of
      life are not paccaya for anyone to attain release. Only when there
      is enough accumulated wisdom to reach 'the maturity of nana' would
      they be able to achieve nibbana when they hear the dhamma. The
      venerable Yasa's life, free of suffering, did not make him overlook
      the problems and chaos of being born. Rajjumala attained the dhamma
      even though the harsh cruelty of her situation as a slave woman
      remained. These days there probably still are some of us who lead
      comfortable lives like the venerable Yasa's, while many suffer like
      Rajjumala. There must be some who have read or heard the teachings
      of the Buddha in books or dhamma presentations, but has anyone
      attained sotapanna?

      Life in this world, no matter the circumstances, is entirely the
      vipaka of kamma. When it is the kusala vipaka, one receives good
      aramana as ittharammana. When it is the akusala vipaka, it would be
      anittharammana. Having seen this one should not be disturbed by the
      results of kamma: not given to dosa when receiving things one
      dislikes, nor to lobha when receiving things one likes and desires,
      not to moha which arises with every citta that does not evolve with
      dana, sila or bhavana.

      You are 'tired of chaos, confusion and contention, and having seen
      birth, aging, sickness and death, don't want to be reborn,' ' want
      to practice the dhamma towards release' from 'this troubled, chaotic
      world'. If the chaotic trouble were to disappear, for example your
      situation improves, you receive all you ever wanted, those who give
      you trouble stop or leave you alone; or you reach a heavenly plane
      where there is only great happiness exempt from old age or death, or
      patisandhi in the brahma world to maintain that status for so long
      that death seems an impossibility: would you still wish to 'practice
      the dhamma towards release'? Or would you then consider that your
      goals have been reached? It would not be like the venerable Yasa
      who saw trouble and chaos in a life without hardship.

      Any unpleasant or undesirable feeling is dosa, the enemy everyone
      sees and does not want. But a closer enemy, even harder to conquer,
      is lobha. Generally overlooked because it is the desired aramana,
      it is the enemy that pleases with ever-present pleasure, and much
      harder to overcome.

      When you see the trouble, chaos, and contention of life, the dukkha
      of being born, growing old and dying, and see that to avoid all this
      is not to be reborn; how can the latter happen? By being able to
      relinquish the desire to have and to be, or bhavatanha, by severing
      all paccaya to be born again or to attenuate the attachments to
      everything. The Buddha said that to have a hundred loves is to have
      a hundred dukkha; one love, one dukkha; none, no dukkha.

      To be able to relinquish desires one must study the true essence of
      Buddhism. Read or listen to the dhamma until you understand, follow
      the reasoning conscientiously, and develop satipatthana, be aware of
      one's citta to realize the arising and falling away of all dhamma
      that evolve according to conditions, beyond anyone's power of
      control, or the self. Continue to accumulate and develop until 'the
      maturity of nana' is reached for panna to arise and truly fully
      realize the dhamma.


      **********


      Do you think it might help?

      Amara
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