The fleeting nature of the worldly,
is our wake-up call from the worldly.
For those doing well in life, who feel that as long as they do not do evil, and do some good, there is no need to learn the Dharma (i.e. the Buddha’s teachings), how do we interest them in it? Here are three ways. First, they can be reminded of the universal truth of impermanence. Just because life is relatively smooth-sailing at the moment, given enough time, it will not remain so. Countless examples can be seen in real life.
Even the rich and powerful in history (and today) go through tumultuous ups and downs in their lives, with karmic fluctuations in health, wealth, power and such. Also, even when one is doing well, loved ones might not do so well, thus leading to collective suffering when they suffer. Our well-being is thus interconnected to the others’ well-being. Without the Dharma, one will lack a clear spiritual path to personal and collective well-being.
Second, they can be reminded that the Dharma is not for becoming just slightly better and happier persons. For actualisation of our great spiritual potential, it encourages us to gladly avoid doing all that is evil, to joyfully do all that is good, and to blissfully purify the mind. Practising these is crucial for progressing towards greater happiness now, what more for True Happiness later, which transcends the worldly and is lasting in nature, as realised in Buddhahood.
The worst possibility would be to self-assuredly imagine oneself to be a very ‘good’ person already, while becoming increasingly evil unmindfully, thus bound for greater karmic suffering later. As the Buddha’s definitions of what constitutes good, evil and purity in thought, word and deed are very profound and highly nuanced, without further diligent Dharma learning and practice, it will be extremely difficult to realise them by oneself.
Third, they can be reminded that death is ever approaching, that ends all ‘well in life’. It can also arrive suddenly through serious sicknesses and accidents. Even if one is reasonably healthy, loved ones might have health deteriorating much faster than expected. Again, our well-being is connected to theirs. The more one is caught up in imagining ‘all is well’, the less will one be personally prepared to depart gracefully for the best rebirth, much less to guide others towards it.
The ideal spiritual destination to reach is Āmítuófó’s (Amitābha Buddha) Pure Land, where there is Ultimate Bliss, with liberation from cyclical birth, ageing, sickness and death assured. Often, older loved ones will depart first. If not spiritually well-practised, one will lack the essential skills to help them during their helpless last moments. Thus, those doing well now should not be short-sighted. May they also have long-term focus, by learning the Dharma for one and all.
The lasting nature of the spiritual,
is our wake-up call to the spiritual.
First contributed and published in TheDailyEnlightenment.com