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Tsunami: A cold reality
By Yickkenghang
The Dhamma Times, 2 January 2005

All phenomena of this world are in reality flawed, connected to suffering, and unreliable.

Without a clear understanding of the nature of phenomena our search is doomed from the outset. Our first task must be to confront the facts that the universe does not exist for our amusement and that

such pleasures as we customarily derive from it are false, impermanent, and unworthy of our attachment/interest.

Nature suffers no moratorium on decay; it unrolls itself without pause, a continual perishing of both the dear and the unlovely with absolute indifference.

While the Buddha does not deny the existence of enjoyment in this world, he points out that all worldly existence is bound up with suffering, inseparable from suffering, and sure to give way to suffering. Therefore in embracing the pleasant we cannot help but embrace the unpleasant.

Our ignorance prevents us from realizing these facts by continually projecting a false appearance on the world, convincing us that the tempting phenomena around us can actually be possessed and squeezed
dry of some satisfying essence.

The Buddha teaches that the solution to the terrible union of pleasure and pain is not to struggle hopelessly to split them apart, but to view the whole contaminated mass as possessing the three common
characteristics of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and unsubstantiality, so it is futile to single out some earth- shattering events for loathing and others for liking.

A common notion is that Buddhism may be employed to beautify life by making the individual more appreciative of the "harmony" of the universe. This is false on two counts.

The Buddha did not aim to put a pleasing, comforting face on things, but to enlighten the individual to the ultimate worthlessness of suffering-dominated samsara existence. Also what we loosely term the "external" world is no more than a fleeting phenomenon, all changing with incredible speed, arising and vanishing with no beginning or end in sight.

As with all of the truths taught by the Buddha, the three characteristics of existence, namely impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and unsubstantiality, must be realized through direct insight -- not just through the reflection of the intellect.

Again and again the Buddha exhorts his followers to be mindful with urgency that the world is burning with greed, hatred, and delusion. Freedom can be won, but not by the careless, infatuated person. The
one who attains freedom will be the one who has mindfulness, energy, and the courage to see the canker in the rose.

We pace up and down the shores of doubt, stepping into the river we find the water cold, and promptly conclude there's a better crossing further down. The water is always cold. Somebody sees a vision over the horizon, and the chilled troops waste no more time at-this-spot.

In our solitary reflections we may notice our inconstancy and regretfully wonder, "Has it always been thus?" If we are Buddhists we are bound to answer, "Yes." This endlessly mutable landscape of disappointment, this lurch and halt of conviction, is
called Samsara.

We are accustomed to regarding the "cycle of birth" and death as a remote, cosmic scheme of creation and dissolution. In fact, Samsara whirls with Tsunami force here in our very existence, here in the wavering and furtive mind. The great wheel turns, has turned, and will turn again.

In our accidental nights of fear we stare in bafflement at the four walls and ask ourselves, "Haven't I tried?" Silence replies with silence, and there's nothing left for us but to blunder after a new ghost of happiness, and thereby give the wheel of Samsara another spin.

Gullibility is not faith, nor is skepticism wisdom. The noble follower of the Buddha proceeds with a balanced mindful mind, considering the world as he finds it, shunning the harmful and welcoming the useful. He crosses the flood of Samsara on the raft
of Dharma, knowing that nobody will make the effort for him.

What distinguishes such a person from his fellows is not necessarily brilliance of mind, but plain and simple perseverance, the resolve to follow the true course no matter how long it may take. We can do likewise if we set ourselves firmly on the path.

Delay is the luxury of ignorance. We commonly suppose Nirvana, the ultimate purity and freedom, to be something infinitely far away and terrifically difficult to reach. We think of the Buddha as long

But Nirvana is near for those who would have it near, and the Buddha is as close as true Dharma truly observed. What is required of us is to let go of our crumbling, mortal toys.

In that exhilarating solitude we may meet the Buddha, whose body is wisdom, whose face is great compassion, and whose hand points out the way directly to the deep and hidden purity in our hearts that are free from all traces of kilesas [imperfections]. Tsunami will then be a cold reality no more. [DHAMMA TIMES]

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