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The Daily Enlightenment
 Quote: Demons

All our outer demons
arise from our inner demons.

Even other outer demons
arise from their inner demons.

- Stonepeace

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 Realisation: What Do You Want To Be Famous For?

Fame is useless
if it increases the ego selfishly.
Fame is useful
if it propagates the useful selflessly.

- Stonepeace

In one of the stories within Woody Allen’s movie ‘To Rome With Love’, an everyman (ordinary man on the street) suddenly becomes famous for apparently no good or known reason. Then again, maybe he became famous simply because he was an everyman, with the highlight on him celebrating the average guy? Reporters flock and jostle to interview him on the mundane details of a day in the life of being him, quizzing him over what he had for breakfast and such. At one point, it becomes so overwhelming that he had to escape the paparazzi in his chauffeured car. Yes, he gets driven around, now that he is a celebrity. Baffled by his popularity, he asked the driver how was it that be became so famous. The chauffeur replied that some are just famous for being famous, even though they might not deserve the fame. Because of such limelight, ridiculous as it might be, everyone wants to know the opinions of the famous for seemingly everything, including the amazingly trivial. Even the usual ‘magically’ becomes special. This seems to be satire on how tabloids, the Internet and such capitalise on celebrities’ nitty-gritty life details which are of little significance if any. Some celebrities are not exactly worth ‘re-celebrating’ endlessly too, being in the spotlight merely due to association with other celebrities, or for having been one-hit wonders once upon a time.

The everyman soon finds the new-found attention annoying and is relieved when the fickle media just as abruptly becomes distracted by another everyman. Walking the streets as a ‘nobody’ or ‘anyone’ once again, he suddenly finds it even more annoying that no one seems to recognise him anymore. He struggles to remind passers-by about him, insisting to express his opinions on all kinds of everyday stuff. However, his ‘audience’ is just as fickle as the media, and ignores him. After all, it is not as if he is rich or famous; he is now just ‘someone’ typical like them. Such was his remarkable climb to fame and his unremarkable fall from it. He bumps into his ex-chauffeur, who remarks that life can be very cruel and unsatisfying whether you’re a celebrity or an unknown, that being a celebrity is nevertheless better. Is this so? Life’s suffering has little to do with fame or the lack of it; more from not knowing how to handle either situations skilfully. The lack of fame only causes suffering when one craves it to fatten the ego. Being too famous also causes suffering from excess self-centredness, which makes fame stifling when it could be used for the greater good, for selfless publicising of worthy causes.

Love it or hate it, fame is actually empty of any fixed characteristics! It is not always a good or bad thing, while it can ‘help’ better or worsen things. In Buddhism, wanting fame is one of the five worldly desires that binds us to the cycle of rebirth. The complete list includes craving for wealth, sex, fame, food and sleep. Notice how these elements are closely dependent. In the guise of appearing selfless, some might secretly crave anonymous fame too. Even for the camera shy everyman, fame can subtly become addictive, which becomes all the more obvious when it is as suddenly lost as gained. Well, easy come, easy go! Being cyclical, many crave great fame at first, only to fret how it costs their everyday privacy with mounting pressure to upkeep appearances, yet pining for more in its absence later! Such worldly fame is truly cumbersome, unlike enduring spiritual fame of the enlightened, that arises and expands naturally with expression of boundless compassion and wisdom. The Buddha most skilfully used his widespread renown – only for sharing the path to True Happiness with more. Will you use whatever much or little ‘fame’ you have in your social circles to do the same too? Why not?

Are you more famous
for being kind and wise
or are you more infamous
for being unkind and unwise?

- Stonepeace

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 Excerpt: Beating A Thief With The Triple Gem

As the Buddha is the invincible teacher
of the infallible Dharma
to the inspiring Sangha,
the Triple Gem is the indispensable refuge.

- Stonepeace

A lama in Eastern Tibet lived beside the Dzachu River. He received many offerings from the faithful, but having renounced all worldly concerns, he just left them scattered, wherever he happened to be. One day a thief came to steal the ritual objects from his altar, but the lama intuitively sensed evil forces. Vigilant, he caught the thief red-handed. Aware of the thief’s negative karma, he decided to dispel the darkness gripping him. Holding the thief by the neck, the lama hit him on the head with a prayer book, repeating the refuge prayer, “I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha; I take refuge in the Triple Gem.” Without another word, he let the thief go. “I have relinquished all possessions; may you relinquish unwholesome activities,” the lama chanted after the retreating figure.

The thief huddled under a bridge that night, nursing his wounded pride. Waking after midnight from a troubled sleep, he saw the fearsome forms of evil forces all about him. He was terrifies. Suddenly into his head leapt the refuge prayer that the lama had beaten into him earlier that day, and the thief unconsciously repeated to himself, “I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha; I take refuge in the Triple Gem,” again and again. While doing so, he could actually see the ghosts and demons fleeing before the power of prayer.

As a result, the thief said the refuge prayer constantly and became a disciple of that lama by the Dzachu River. As everyone knows, taking refuge is the door to the Dharma, the gateway to the path. The refuge prayer, coupled with confidence in the Triple Gem, inevitably pacifies negative influences, purifies unwholesomeness, and brings purity of heart and mind. Turning away from illusion, seeking the ineffable peace of Nirvana, the thief eventually became a teacher himself and led others to freedom and enlightenment.

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