Letting Go…

Just as a tree cut down shoots forth again
if its root are unharmed and firm
even so, craving not being removed
this suffering comes again and again.
–Dhammapada

How hard is letting go?
Of a loved one, no longer loved;
A beloved book  falling to pieces with age;
or ragged soft toy
that has gone grey and faded over time.
A favourite piece of china,
that has been in the family for years,
Now chipped and cracked;
Useless.
How hard is letting go
of land and property,
everything you own?

How hard is letting go each thought
that comes to mind?
Each temptation,
Each little annoyance,
Each craving.

How hard is letting go
what we feel we want,
and simply settle for basic needs.

Meditation teaches us this discipline.
I used to do walking meditation.
Focus only on the walking, nothing else.
Is there a magpie, singing his evening song?
Clouds floating by faster than I
am walking on the ground?

The technique in meditation
is not to ignore each sensation.
But to acknowledge it, and let it go.

This is how it goes:
Was that a bird? Pretty song.
Ok, back to meditation.

This can be done for every sensation
that registers with our minds.
Is it warm or cold?
Acknowledge and let it go.
Dwelling on it breaks focus.

And of course, doing this over and over again,
Every minute you walk,
is great for mind discipline.
Avoid bicycles, dogs, traffic, pedastrians…
whatever, just acknowledge and let it go.

After a time,
it becomes  a game.
How easily can you let go?
And you are testing your own discipline.
So there is no room for cheating.

Once you get to that stage,
It is easy to let go of anything.

Anger, annoyances, disappointments.
Cravings and temptations.

Try and see.
I’d like to hear your comments.

Advertisements

Karma – Story 03 About the bird that died in the wildfire

Not in the air, nor in the middle of ocean,
nor in the caves of hills, nowhere in the whole world
could a man find a spot
where he might not be overcome by death.
–Dhammapada

A group of bhikkus on their way to see the Buddha, saw a bird that had perished in a wildfire. They asked the Buddha why this was so.

According to the Buddha, this happend because the bird, in a previous birth as a farmer had got so angry with an unmanageable bull and killed it by tying a load of hay onto its back and setting it alight. This is the karma that caused him to be burned in a wildfire even though he could fly.

Your deeds follow you like the wheels of the cart follow the oxen. There is no escaping that.

Visit AccesstoInsight.org to learn more about how to break this cycle of death and birth through mind culture.

Karma – Story 02 About the iguana in the anthill

A group of bhikkus who came to visit Buddha from far was resting in a rock cave, taking a break on their journey. There was a rock slide and the entrance to the cave was blocked. They were trapped inside without food and water for a week. They resolved to ask the Buddha what karma they had commited that caused this event.
The Buddha looked back (with his ability to see into the past events) at their past births and replied. When the seven bhukkus were shepherd boys in a past life, they had seen a huge iguana going into an anthill. They had covered all the holes in the anthill and trapped the lizard in there and released it only after seven days. This was the karma that caused them to starve for a week in this life.
Big or small, our thoughts, words and deeds have consequences. You cannot escape them hiding in caves.

Karma – Story 01 About Drowning in Mid-ocean

In my last post, I quoted a part from the Dhammapada about how we cannot escape the consequences of our actions; if we try to hide in the skies, in mid ocean or in rock caves. This story is about the ocean.

A group of bhikkus (priests) came to see Buddha, after journeying by ship. The ship stopped in mid ocean. The Captain looked around to see who the unlucky person was that was causing the ship to stop moving. In order to go forward, they held a lottery draw to select who was to be sacrificed. It turned out to be his own wife. She was drowned by tying a pot full of sand to her neck.

The bhikkus asked Buddha why this had to be so.

His reply was that in a past birth, she had drowned a dog that started following her wherever she went, by tying a pot of sand to its back.

So wherever you go, mid ocean even, you cannot avoid the consequences of your past deeds.

Thoughts and Deeds Have Consequences…

 

Indian Ocean at Sunset - Galle Fort Ramparts, Sri Lanka

Indian Ocean at Sunset - Galle Fort Ramparts, Sri Lanka

Continuing from the last post, here’s another thing that the priest spoke of:

Not in the air, nor in the middle of ocean,
nor in the caves of hills,
nowhere in the whole world could a man find a spot
where he would be safe from his evil deeds.

Not in the air, nor in the middle of ocean,
nor in the caves of hills,
nowhere in the whole world could a man find a spot
where he might not be overcome by death.

–Dhammapada

I have known the meaning of these stanzas for years. But I got to know the stories behind them only on this day. Let me share those stories with you another day.

And here’s a short example of the power of thoughts and deeds.

According to the priest, Lord Buddha too suffered from severe headaches throughout his life. And as Buddha has once revealed, this was because, in a previous birth, he had derived enjoyment from watching the fishes jumping around when caught in the fishermans’ nets.

I could not help wondering what I am getting my occassional headaches for. Seriously. Of course, all this makes sense only if you believe in karma and rebirth. I don’t care particularly to focus on results after death. However, I do get a kick out of being good just for the sake of it.

More the reason to watch out for what your mind gets you to think of and look at and enjoy. You never know what will lead to what.

It also reminded me that there are books listing what results you get when you do good deeds. Example, what results you get for giving food to people or for sweeping a temple garden.

I knew a girl who believed that sweeping the temple garden and cleaning the old flowers would make her look prettier. We found this out when she suddenly developed a passion for this activity. 🙂

Watch out for your mind.

Life is like a burning oil lamp…

 

 

 

Oil lamp with flowers

Oil lamp with flowers

 I visited a friend’s home over the weekend for the three months religious ceremonies after the death of her husband. He was 40 years old.

During the ‘bana’ ceremony, the priest compared the life of a person to that of a burning oil lamp.

The lamp can go out because the wick burns out; or else because it runs out of oil. Or it will go out because of a natural cause like rain or the wind.

In the same way, a peson’s life can end due to three key reasons.

Firstly because, like the oil in the lamp, his time on earth simply runs out. So his life ends.

Secondly, he could die because of the effects of karma he commited in past lives and also gathered in this lifetime. While good deeds may cancel out bad karma, you cannot entirely avoid the effects of bad things you do.

Thirdly, a person can die of an accident or an illness; just as a lamp may go off because of the wind or the rain.

If our life can be flushed out so easily, shouldn’t we live our lives while trying our best to improve our minds? This after all is the way to shorten the cycle of birth and death. What other way to ensure avoiding death, than through avoiding future births?

Think about it.