Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Reality of Mankind -- Meaning behind the Story

                So what happens when one dies? Some people say, "When someone dies, that is the end." This is a terrible misconception.

                Sakyamuni Buddha declared that all human beings are destined to fall into the bottomless blue ocean when they die. This bottomless ocean is compared to the realm of incessant suffering or jigoku in Japanese.

                Sakyamuni asserts throughout the sutras that all beings are destined to this jigoku once their breathing stops. The most critical matter in Buddhism is this question of what happens to us after we die. This is known as the term gosho no ichidaiji in Japanese. The purpose of listening to Buddhism is to solve this pressing question.

                What kind of a world is this realm of incessant suffering?

                As to the intensity of torture in this world, Sakyamuni said that it was beyond explanation.

                For this reason, gosho no ichidaiji has been considered a serious matter to us for an immeasurably long period of time. There is nothing of greater importance to human beings than this, and Sakyamuni Buddha emphasized its importance greatly.

                If asked, "Who created the world of suffering?", the answer is the three dragons that appeared in the parable. Those three dragons represent the three poisonous passions of our hearts: greed, anger, and ignorance.

                The blue dragon represents greed. If money and wealth are insufficient, we desire to have them. If we all ready have them, we desire more. Wants create more wants, and in order to fulfill our limitless desires, we perform all sorts of evil. The deeper the ocean, the richer and darker the color of blue. This is why it is represented as the the blue dragon.

                The red dragon represents anger. When our desire is interfered with and we can't get our way, we start blaming others. We cut down in our hearts anyone who obstructs our desires. The flame of anger blazes red. This is why it represented as the red dragon.

                The black dragon represents foolishness, manifested by grudge, hatred, jealousy, and resentment. We hold those feelings due to our ignorance of the Law of Cause and Effect. Because of our despicable hearts, we get jealous of other people's happiness and secretly enjoy their misfortunes. The darkness of these feelings is expressed through the black dragon.

                Because of the three major evil passions, we are constantly performing evil acts from morning to night.

                Buddhism teaches that the lives of all beings are equally precious. Therefore, the killing of a single cow or pig is the equivalent of killing a single person. Eating the fish we bought at the market is considered as the sin of killing because we are asking the fisherman to kill fish for our food.

                Just by estimating the killings we perform for food, we realize how many sins we are committing every day. Even if we don't kill with our hands, when we wish with our minds, "I wish that jerk would just die," it is just as sinful as killing with our hands. This is because Buddhism places more emphasis on the deeds within our minds as they are the source for the deeds of the mouth and body.

                In the Larger Sutra of Infinite Life (Larger Sutra), Sakyamuni Buddha reveals the true image of human beings as follows:

Our mind is constantly thinking evil.
Our mouth is constantly speaking evil.
Our body is constantly practicing evil.
Not a single good deed has ever been performed.

                The more we listen to Buddhism, the more we become aware of ourselves as such. According to the Law of Cause and Effect, we are creating our future world of suffering right now.

                Once our breathing stops, the gosho no ichidaiji (grave problem of what happens after death) begins. Still, we ignore this fact and keep on licking the honey, known also as the five pleasures. We only wish to fulfill these five desires of food, wealth, sex, fame, and sleep.

                Day after day, from morning to night, our minds are preoccupied with satisfying these desires. Our lives are dragged around by them constantly, and one day it will end in ruin for us.

                Like the traveler licking honey, we humans give no thought to the purpose of being born into human life. Nor do we take into account that death is stalking us minute by minute and shortening our lives day and night.

                Below the traveler's feet exists the gosho no ichidaiji, and the traveler will have to fall into this eventually. Yet he persists to clinging on to the fine wisteria vine, just enjoying the honey of his endless desires and forgetting all else.

                Sakyamuni taught this parable to warn us that we are hanging in a dangerous place. Listening to Buddhism provides us with the solution to this dreadful situation. The next blog post will introduce how discovering our true purpose of life is the answer.