For discussion of Buddha Dharma, including teachings common to all Buddhist schools, such as the Four Noble Truths, Dependent Origination, etc., that is not specific to Mahayana or Therevada
An interesting title to the thread. Sort of like asking what if I were born?
Yes, we all die. The French Symbolist writer Stephane Mallarme once said something to the effect of "We are all sentenced at death, with but an indefinite reprieve"". However, in this practice we understand that death can come NOW. That ratchets up the intensity and clarity quite a bit, and should help us to stay awake and in the moment. Another old saying I am fond of, and I cannot remember who said it or where it came from, is that we should practice meditation w/ all the intensity of someone whose hair is on fire. That surely comes from understanding that death can come at any moment.
No one knows what happens to our awareness when we die since they all died and didn't come back to discuss it. Sure, some lineages have belief systems to explain all this, but that is just what they are, belief systems. It's not something I think much about as a Buddhist, but it was on my mind a lot when I was a Christian, for obvious reasons. Our focus should be on living, no? That's the challenge. Or as the Tibetans probably say, dying is easy..... I've done it hundreds of times :]
I found this thread looking for something entirely different.
And it occurred to me that maybe this poem fits here:
A LETTER TO MY FRIEND (DRAFT #4)
The matter is serious but not heavy, nothing to worry about
too much. So, please, be a good sport, laugh with me
at the irony of this situation or, perhaps, when things strike you
as just plain silly. You see, certain things must be set straight.
So, we can put them finally aside
and move on
So, to begin, I already know it is not about your looks
or tools of your craft
or songs sang when you appear
or images painted to honor you
or to warn others you are coming
or to keep you away
True, some see you as the Grim Reaper
perhaps hovering above the carnage of battle fields
maybe to a melody of a dirge. My mother swears she saw you
in the smoke of Auschwitz crematoria.
I asked her whether she thinks you were evil.
She replied there was some evil force working there
but that was not you. You had the gentle smile of Virgin Mary
to whom she and fellow prisoners prayed each and every day.
You had a compassionate embrace of the Holy Mother
to whom they offered souls of their dead children after
forced abortions. Terrible that it was, it still seemed better
than to allow their babies to be born
only to be thrown alive into the flames of crematoria.
Yes, their death and offering their souls to you seemed better
than to allow evil to control their destiny
There are also those who see you as a master chess player
always ready for a challenge. In “The Seventh Seal”
Ingmar Bergman tells a story of a knight, Antonius Block
who returns from a crusade to a continent ravaged by a plague.
He challenges you to a game of chess
chooses the ivory pieces and an initial advantage
a sound strategy but also, at a deeper level, a subtle mistake.
For what a treat it would be to see you at last playing white
spring upon you an unknown line of Najdorf Sicilian
sacrifice a rook for a minor piece, a pawn, and a counterattack
put some pressure upon your King, threaten you with a check mate.
Not that I think that the outcome would ever be in doubt
On a lighter sight, I met someone who claimed that
you revealed yourself as the real man in black
Johnny Cash singing “This Ring of Fire”.
Also, a poet Mighty Mike McGee claims to engage you
in a bizarre eating contest in which his life was at stake.
Allegedly he won by a hair by finishing eating a raw potato faster than you.
Then, he celebrated with a beer and a slice of pizza
for there is always a room for a beer and a slice of pizza with a friend.
Yeah! Right! Mighty Mike tends to exaggerate. A lot!
And the other guy? Later on he admitted that he hates
country and western and that he had some bad acid trips.
So, I doubt their accounts are reliable
Anyway, I met once a woman who meditated on your mystery
moment after moment
day after day
night after night
until, one day, she saw you -- a tall and beautiful lady
with a gentle smile, a pale completion, and deep, vast, dark eyes
and an elegant amethyst ring on your heart finger
and a single lily pinned to the lapel of your immaculate white gown
But she already knew --
it was not about your looks
or tools of your craft
or images created to honor you
or to keep you away
So, she kept searching deeper, kept asking:
“Who are you? Truly!
Who? Who? Who?
Show me your true face!”
And all of the sudden she entered an empty luminous space
and saw her own true original face
the face she had before her parents were born
She did not quite understand what really happened
except that it brought some deep peace. So, she kept asking
around. Psychologists said she had a mystical experience
a spiritual conversion of some sort
so she sought a counsel of various religious leaders
until, eventually, she found an old Zen Buddhist monk
who confirmed that she had an authentic kensho-awakening
not unlike the one had by the Buddha under the Bodhi tree.
He confirmed that she experienced the Great Death
and then the Great Rebirth.
So, I know you can open the gate
to the Grand Vastness for me, too
And yet I still worry that you may come too early when
I am not yet ready to go, my job not finished yet.
I worry that you may arrive too late
when my family and friends are all gone
strength and health diminished
and I suffer loneliness and pain.
I worry where I will go or, even, will I go anywhere?
And yet I still worry
But I carry many memories
a burden only you can lift
Thus I look forward to see your gentle smile
I hope you will come on time, wipe everything clean
I pray that my last breath will be clear
like a dewdrop falling off a blooming camellia
So, I can start the search again and anew
as if with the first step
I dont sitte enymore syns two years back.
I finde live is good thought. What is the meaning of "lost" in this sence?
Its still full of meaning and all the rest.
I was Reading a book on this "Heartwood of the bodhi tree" by, Buddhadasa Bhikkhu.
He say that the garden is a garden, but its beautyfull too!
Symbols of the sun, symbols of the snow
For those how go beyond, for those how go below.
Reminded of this by a Facebook friend today.
A Letter to a Dying Man
Bassui wrote the following letter to one of his disciples who was about to die:
"The essence of your mind is not born, so it will never die. It is not an existence, which is perishable. It is not an emptiness, which is a mere void. It has neither color nor form. It enjoys no pleasures and suffers no pains.
"I know you are very ill. Like a good Zen student, you are facing that sickness squarely. You may not know exactly who is suffering, but question yourself: What is the essence of this mind? Think only of this. You will need no more. Covet nothing. Your end which is endless is as a snowflake dissolving in the pure air."
As we are all dying, this applies to all of us.
Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
Seeking the truth of this very nature
Where does the thought arise and where does it go
It is no more than a wave from a pebble dropped into a pool of water
Maybe it is time to .... nah
Dogen has a lovely take on Living and Dying in Shobogenzo Shoji (Life and Death) ...
Basically, there is no "life and death", nor is there "Buddha" ... and yet there is, thus Life and death are themselves Nirvana ... When there is life, all is life, and when there is death, death is just death ... Neither cling to or push away life nor run toward or away from death ... yet live and die thoroughly: Live as if your life depends on it, die thoroughly or die trying ...
In the meantime, between birth and death, live gently and be compassionate. Simple as that.
Here is the whole of Shoji (it is very short) ...
Founder Treeleaf Zendo, Japan. Member SZBA. Treeleaf is an online Sangha for those unable to commute to a Sangha, w/ netcast Zazen, interaction with other practitioners and teachers & all activities of a Soto Sangha, fully online without charge (http://www.treeleaf.org) Nishijima/Niwa
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