The Second Best Story I Know

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This is the second best story I know.
It is based on the best story I know –
the life story of the Buddha.

Once upon a time, when the Buddha was still Prince Siddhartha,
He had all that most of us would have wanted in His time,
within the walls of the palace.
When He ventured beyond,
He encountered an old man, a sick man and a dead man,
and realised that the world lives in the constant shadow of suffering.

Upon His return, He discovered He could not truly feel happy again,
despite having all the luxuries possible.
Thus, He chose to renounce the palace,
to seek the solution to end suffering for all.

This later led him to become the Buddha —
one with perfect Compassion and Wisdom.

But enough…
the story I want to tell…
is really about you…

More than 2,500 years later…
Imagine now…

You are the richest person in the world,
with a happy beautiful family.
None of you need to work.
And there is no need to leave home at all.

You own the tallest and biggest mansion in the world.
It has all the facilities you could ever want —
your personal pool, spa, theatre, gym, mall…
whatever your heart desires.
Your favourite room is in the penthouse.

One day, you hear cries beyond the walls of your estate.
You look out of the window and to your utmost surprise,
you see a mass of suffering people —
old, sick, dying, both physically and mentally distressed…
covering all of the land over the horizon.

My first important question —

Can you ever be truly happy again?
Are you able to turn your back on the suffering you see
and live your life normally as before?

Be honest.
I don’t think you can be happy as usual.
I don’t think anyone can,
unless one does not comprehend the suffering one sees.

Would you not try your best to help these suffering people?

You will realise that true and complete happiness for yourself is possible
only when others are free from suffering,
or when you know you have tried your best
to help free others from suffering.

Whether you succeed in helping all or not is another issue.
Trying one’s best in each moment is the main issue.

You might think it is too extreme
to use the analogy of a mass of suffering people — but is it?
There are more than enough suffering people in the world
to fill beyond the horizon.

Perhaps our Compassion is not as strong and naturally aroused
as Prince Siddhartha’s, who didn’t need to see much suffering
to want to help all be free of it.

We sometimes need a drastic picture of reality
before our eyes to awaken our Compassion –
such as what we just imagined,
instead of only fleeting images in the papers and on TV.

Next, imagine having helped all the suffering people.
You feel glad and content…
for sharing happiness.
You know your life is worthwhile.

One day, you receive news
that there is just one person left in suffering,
miles away from you…

You do not know who this person is.
You do not know his or her
gender, race, religion, age,
whether he or she is a good or bad person.

My second important question —

Can you ever be happy again?
Can you turn your back on this person?

Be honest.
I don’t think you can be happy as usual.

You would naturally want to help him or her,
whoever and wherever he or she is.

The truth is
you cannot stand the suffering of even one single being,
much more to say,
the suffering of many.

This is truly unconditional love –
love without any conditions.

True love must be for all —
not just for yourself
or your beloved ones.

If one’s love for someone is conditioned
by that person being that particular someone;
not being someone else,
the love is not really unconditional.

This is why the great Bodhisattvas,
who embody unconditional love
vow to save every single being from suffering.
Deep down, we wish to be like them too.

Romantic love is not useless —
for it is usually part of the path
from conditional love of one
to unconditional love of all.

Even loving a particular someone else
is an improvement from just loving oneself or no one!

When you do not love yourself, you cannot really love others.
When you do not love others, you cannot really love yourself.

Your innate Compassion is thus all encompassing, perfect.
We all have this perfect Compassion within –
Compassion that is not different from the Buddha’s.

It is from this Compassion that springs forth Bodhi Mind —
the aspiration to help all beings attain True Happiness
by becoming Buddhas,
by being Bodhisattvas.

This potential is called Buddha-Nature — our true nature,
which is the same as all Buddhas’.

We have various other natures too —
hell-being nature (nature of fear and hatred),
hungry ghost nature (nature of craving),
animal nature (nature of ignorance),
demi-god nature (nature of jealousy),
god nature (nature of complacency),
human nature (nature of the realms of existence mixed together).

However, these natures surface and fade away now and then.
They are like dark clouds passing in the sky.
Our Buddha-Nature, however, is always there.

It is like the bright full Moon that shines forth once in a while,
whenever not hindered by the clouds and shadows of delusion,
the clouds of our imperfect natures.
To become a Buddha is to let it shine always.

The Buddha never forgot His intention to help all beings.
All beings might not be perfectly helped yet —
but so have all Buddhas not given up yet.

The Truth the Buddha discovered is Wisdom.
He was motivated by Compassion.
He was moved by Compassion.

The moment we answer our Compassion,
we are like Prince Siddhartha,
being true to ourselves, being true to all.

Remember –
you cannot even stand the suffering of one single being —
be kind to yourself then.

Compassion starts from a single being —
from not being able to stand your very own suffering.

Never forget that you yourself deserve as much Compassion as anyone.
Only when you take care of yourself well enough,
can you take care of others well enough.
Only when you have enough Compassion for yourself, within yourself,
can it overflow to others.

This is the Wisdom of Compassion.
This is the Compassion of Wisdom.

Compassion and Wisdom
are the most important qualities to have.
The twin wings of a bird –
without either of which it cannot fly.

May you be well and happy.
May all beings be well and happy.
May all beings help all beings to be well and happy.

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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