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The Daily Enlightenment
 Quote: Lberation

Not being attached to one’s suffering
by realisation of its unsubstantiality
to liberate oneself is wisdom.

Not being attached to one’s liberation
by realisation of its ungraspability
to liberate others is compassion.

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 Realisation: How To See Impermanence Positively

Impermanence is not just
about the end of all things,
but their renewal too.

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Having learnt about the truth of impermanence of all things material in this life, of the value of living with more contentment and less excesses, and to avoid attachment lest it brings suffering, would this not make Buddhists less ambitious? Understood correctly, impermanence should urge us to make the best of the moment to change for long-term spiritual betterment, instead of neglecting this moment. Every moment is treasured, yet not clung to. Think enjoying a sunset, which is a subtle material event. We savour it mindfully because it is fleeting. However, we try not to cling to it too – also because we know it is fleeting.

On the nature of ambition, there are two kinds – the noble and the mundane. For example, the Buddha-to-be aspired to discover the path to True Happiness for all beings. This is noble and totally worthy. Mundane ambitions might be beneficial to some extent, in supporting noble ambitions too. As long as they are not in conflict with spiritual aspirations, they are alright. For instance, one might be working hard to earn more money to support one’s family and help a charity, for the welfare of many others. And because one is aware that life is short, one is diligent with the limited time, driven by compassion and wisdom for the betterment of one and all.

Exactly because we realise all mind and matter are in constant flux (Anicca: impermanence) and without self (Anatta) within (and is thus Dukkha; dissatisfactory when clung to), we conscientiously direct ourselves to change for the better to realise our true self (by actualising our Buddha-nature) to attain True Happiness (Nirvana: opposite of Dukkha), and guide others to do the same. If we become nonchalant (couldn’t care less) instead, not only will we not diligently progress to True Happiness, we will not guide others to it either. It will be a lose-lose situation. To create win-win situations is the Bodhisattva’s path.

Since all things change,
whether we like it or not,
including our ‘selves’,
why not change for the better?

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 Excerpt: The Mani Man

I don’t know
if this is good or bad.
It is just like that.

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There was once an old man in far eastern Kham known as the Mani Man because day and night he could always be found devotedly spinning his small homemade prayer wheel. The wheel was filled with the mantra of Great Compassion, Om Mani Padme Hung. The Mani Man lived with his son and their one fine horse. The son was the joy of the man’s life; the boy’s pride and joy was the horse. The man’s wife, after a long life of virtue and service, had long since departed for more fortunate rebirths. Father and son lived, free from excessive wants or needs, in one of several rough stone houses near a river on the edge of the flat plains.

One day their steed disappeared. The neighbors bewailed the loss of the old man’s sole material asset, but the stoic old man just kept turning his prayer wheel, reciting “Om Mani Padme Hung,” Tibet’s national mantra. To whoever inquired or expressed condolences, he simply said, “Give thanks for everything. Who can say what is good or bad? We’ll see.”

After several days the splendid creature returned, followed by a pair of wild mustangs. These the old man and his son swiftly trained. Then everyone sang songs of celebration and congratulated the old man on his unexpected good fortune. The man simply smiled over his prayer wheel and said, “I am grateful… but who knows? We shall see.”

Then, while racing one of the mustangs, the boy fell and shattered his leg. Some neighbors carried him home, cursing the wild horse and bemoaning the boy’s fate. But the old man, sitting at his beloved son’s bedside just kept turning his prayer wheel around and around while softly muttering gentle Lord Chenrezig’s mantra of Great Compassion. He neither complained nor answered their protestations to fate, but simply nodded his head affably, reiterating what he had said before. “The Buddha is beneficent; I am grateful for my son’s life. We shall see.”

The next week military officers appeared, seeking young conscripts for an ongoing border war. All the local boys were immediately taken away, except for the bedridden son of the Mani Man. Then the neighbors congratulated the old man on his great good fortune, attributing such luck to the good karma accumulated by the old man’s incessantly spinning prayer wheel and the constant mantras on his cracked lips. He smiled and said nothing. [Read complete version]

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