Human sufferings arise from the mind
Where is the source of human grief, lamentation, pain and agony? Is it not to be found in the fact that people are generally desirous.
They cling obstinately to lives of wealth and honor, comfort and pleasure, excitement and self indulgence, ignorant of the fact that the desire for these very things is the source of human suffering.
From its beginning, the world has been filled with a succession of calamities, over and above the unavoidable facts of illness, old age and death.
Delusion and ignorance form the
entrance to Enlightenment
Enlightenment exists solely because of delusion and ignorance; if they disappear, so will Enlightenment. And the opposite is true also: there is no Enlightenment apart from delusion and ignorance; no delusion and ignorance apart from Enlightenment.
Therefore, be on guard against thinking of Enlightenment as a “thing” to be grasped at, lest it, too, should become an obstruction. When the mind that was in darkness becomes enlightened, it passes away, and with its passing, the thing which we call Enlightenment passes also.
As long as people desire Enlightenment and grasp at it, it means that delusion is still with them; therefore, those who are following the way to Enlightenment must not grasp at it, and if they reach Enlightenment they must not linger in it.
When people attain Enlightenment in this sense, it means that everything is Enlightenment itself as it is; therefore, people should follow the path to Enlightenment until in their thoughts, worldly passions and Enlightenment become identical as they are.
How to be emanicipated from sufferings
People have worldly passions which lead them into delusions and sufferings. There are five ways to emancipate themselves from the bond of worldly passions.
First, they should have right ideas of things, ideas that are based on careful observation, and understand causes and effects and their significance correctly. Since the cause of suffering is rooted in the mind’s desires and attachments, and since desire and attachment are related to mistaken observations by an ego-self, neglecting the significance of the law of cause and effect, and since it is from these wrong observations, there can be peace only if the mind can be rid of these worldly passions.
Second, people can get rid of these mistaken observations and resulting worldly passions by careful and patient mind-control. With efficient mind-control they can avoid desires arising from the stimulation of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin and the subsequent mental processes and, by so doing, cut off the very root of all worldly passions.
Third, they should have correct ideas with regard to the proper use of all things. That is, with regard to articles of food and clothing, they should not think of them in relation to comfort and pleasure, but only in their relation to the body’s needs. Clothing is necessary to protect the body against extremes of heat and cold, and to conceal the shame of the body; food is necessary for the nourishment of the body while it is training for Enlightenment and Buddhahood. Worldly passions can not arise through such thinking.
Fourth, people should learn endurance; they should learn to endure the discomforts of heat and cold, hunger and thirst; they should learn to be patient when receiving abuse and scorn; for it is the practice of endurance that quenches the fire of worldly passions which is burning up their bodies.
Fifth, people should learn to see and so avoid all danger. Just as a wise man keeps away from wild horses or mad dogs, so one should not make friends with evil men, nor should one go to places that wise men avoid. If one practices caution and prudence, the fire of worldly passions which is burning in their vitals will die down.
Lust is the very source of delusion
Of all the worldly passions, lust is the most intense. All other worldly passions seem to follow in its train.
Lust seems to provide the soil in which other passions flourish. Lust is like a demon that eats up all the good deeds of the world. Lust is a viper hiding in a flower garden; it poisons those who come in search only of beauty. Lust is a vine that climbs a tree and spreads over the branches until the tree is strangled. Lust insinuates its tentacles into human emotions and sucks away the good sense of the mind until the mind withers. Lust is a bait cast by the evil demon that foolish people snap at and are dragged down by into the depths of the evil world.
If a dry bone is smeared with blood a dog will gnaw at it until it is tired and frustrated. Lust to a human is precisely like this bone to a dog; one will covet it until one is exhausted.
If a single piece of meat is thrown to two wild beasts they will fight and claw each other to get it. A person foolish enough to carry a torch against the wind will likely burn himself. Like these two beasts and this foolish person, people hurt and burn themselves because of their worldly desires.
Passion in the source of evils
Most people, being influenced by the body’s love of comfort, do not notice the evils that follow comfort, and they are caught in a devil’s trap like a deer in the forest caught in a hunter’s trap. Indeed, these five doors of desires arising from the senses are the most dangerous traps. When caught by them, people are entangled in worldly passions and suffer. They should know how to get rid of these traps.
This world is in the burning fire
Indeed, this world is burning up with its many and various fires. There are fires of greed, fires of anger, fires of foolishness, fires of infatuation and egoism, fires of decrepitude, sickness and death, fires of sorrow, lamentation, suffering and agony. Everywhere these fires are raging. They not only burn the self, but also cause others to suffer and lead them into wrong acts of body, speech and mind. From the wounds that are caused by these fires there issues a pus that infects and poisons those who approach it, and leads them into evil paths.
If people chase after fame and honor,
it is like burning themselves
People love their egoistic comfort, which is a love of fame and praise. But fame and praise are like incense that consumes itself and soon disappears. If people chase after honors and public acclaim and leave the way of truth, they are in serious danger and will soon have cause for regret.
If a man chases after wealth and lust,
he will ruin himself
A man who chases after fame and wealth and love affairs is like a child who licks honey from the blade of a knife. While he is tasting the sweetness of honey, he has to risk hurting his tongue. He is like a man who carries a torch against a strong wind; the flame will surely burn his hands and face.
Wise men and foolish men differ in their
Good men and bad men differ from each other in their natures. Bad men do not recognize a sinful act as sinful; if its sinfulness is brought to their attention, they do not cease doing it and do not like to have anyone inform them of their sinful acts. Wise men are sensitive to right and wrong; they cease doing anything as soon as they see that it is wrong; they are grateful to anyone who calls their attention to such wrong acts.
Thus good men and bad men differ radically. Bad men never appreciate kindness shown them, but wise men appreciate and are grateful. Wise men try to express their appreciation and gratitude by some return of kindness, not only to their benefactor, but to everyone else.
Foolish men envy the good fortune of
others by looking only at the results (Fable)
Once there was a wealthy but foolish man. When he saw the beautiful three-storied house of another man, he envied it and made up his mind to have one built just like it, thinking he was himself just as wealthy. He called a carpenter and ordered him to build it. The carpenter consented and immediately began to construct the foundation, the first story, the second story, and then the third story. The wealthy man noticed this with irritation and said: – “I don’t want a foundation or a first story or a second story; I just want the beautiful third story. Build it quickly.”
A foolish man always thinks only of the results, and is impatient without the effort that is necessary to get good results. No good can be attained without proper effort, just as there can be no third story without the foundation and the first and the second stories.
The way in which foolish men are apt
A man living near a cemetery heard one night a voice calling him from a grave. He was too timid to investigate it himself but the next day he mentioned it to a brave friend, who made up his mind to trace the place whence the voice came the following night.