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Sunday, 12 May 2013

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Facing the reality of impermanence and death

The essence of Buddhism is facing the reality of death and impermanence. We run away from reality carried away by emotions.

The emotions are in conflict with reality. Therefore, they are bound to be thwarted by reality. Generally, people are not aware that death will overtake them one day.

It is because we forget the fact that our lives are transitory. We quarrel with each other as if we are going to live for ever.

If we face the fact of death, our quarrels will come to and end. Sometimes in Sri Lanka, land disputes end in gruesome killings. Children kill their parents. What a pity? Be mindful of death. It is central to the Buddhist way of understanding the nature of life.

Even during the time of Gautama Buddha, quarrels were there among the Bhikkhus.

A trivial incident led to an unfortunate dispute among the Bhikkhus in the city of Kosambi. The quarrelsome Bhikkhus did not listen even to the Buddha.

The Bhikkhus of Kosambi had formed into two groups. One group followed the Master of Vinaya. The other followed the Teacher of the Dhamma. It was over a minor Vinaya rule they quarrelled.

It was the Vassana season (rain-retreat). Even, the Blessed One could not stop their quarrelling. The Buddha left for Rakkhita Grove near Parileyya forest. Elephant Parileyya, looked after the Buddha during this period. The story gives a strong message, that four-legged animals are better than the two legged ones. Sometimes, they are much grateful.

The story woven in the poem Plate of Gold, shows how a dog starved to death, when his master fell off a mountain and guarded the dead body.

The residents of Kosambi, hearing the departure of the Enlightened One, were so disappointed that they refused offering alms to the quarrelsome Bhikkhus. They fell the pulse once they were hungry.

This made them realise their folly, their mistake and reconciliation took place among themselves. Owing to the pressure brought on the revolting Bhikkhus by the laity, the Bhikkhus approached the Buddha, and invited him to return to the Jetavana Monastery in Savatthi.

In due course the Buddha returned to Jetavanaramaya. The rebelling Bhikkhus fell at the feet of the Buddha and admitted their fault.

The Buddha, recited the following stanza:

Pare ca na Vijananti Mayamettha Yamamase
Ye ca tattha Vijananti Tato Sammanti Medhaga,
(Dhammapada verse No 6 Yamaka Vagga Twin Verses)

Some do not realise that we all perish in this quarrel; those who realise it have their quarrels ceased.

If we face the fact of death, our quarrels will come to an end. When, we are excited by emotions, our thoughts would be clouded, and we become blind to the truth.

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