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
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 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.