Saturday, 8 February 2014

A Thought on Life

“Life is suffering” – Buddha

It is the ungodly hours in the morning but I just have an urge to pen down some outlook about life. To begin, Buddhist or not, the words of Buddha that “life is a suffering” is undeniably true. Suffering meant the suffering of suffering which is the physical aspect of suffering like pain and fear; suffering also meant the suffering of change which refers to suffering of the problems of change; and suffering also meant pervasive suffering which is the potential to get into a problematic situation which even death is unable to resolve as Buddhism believes in incarnation of souls until nirvana is achieved. At the very least, the suffering of suffering traps us all whether Buddhist or not.

Growing up, the teaching of life and how to live life had always revolved around the law of karma. Those it wasn’t preached or forcefully put into my head, life had always been about doing good to others. Most of the times, life also meant putting oneself in others shoes. Being in the Girl Guide movement and keeping to the promise of “one good turn a day” worked as an additional reminder. Sure I’m no saint; but living a life with a believe in karma to the very best, there is no avoidance that life is suffering as karma doesn’t always work instantly. It is a theory with no guarantee. Nobody knows when karma; good or bad will strike. Nobody knows how karma multiplies. Ultimately, nobody even knows if karma really exist. Doing good all life doesn’t mean being blessed throughout life. Though the existence of karma is questionable, it is a believe I’ve grown with and held onto and there’s nothing negative about doing good to others when capable of doing so.

Today, the pain of the suffering of change is the most apparent. As a person, I never really liked change because there’s so much uncertainties and whoever said a chance is always for the better is not always right. No one can be sure the grass is always greener on the other side. Though when change becomes a necessity, I’d embrace it for resistance leads only to sufferings. The change in life, the change in routine, the change in everything physical and mental at times comes as a form of suffering that it can’t be help but to question why change had to happen especially if it is for the worse.

To me, life like a tree diagram, for every choice made, a different consequence awaits. When choosing to walk down a certain path, it meant forgoing the consequence of the other possible alternative. Nevertheless, it is often a suffering to ponder over the road not taken. “What if” never fails to form a part of suffering in life. Though many would say to live in the present, to look forward to the future, how many of us had never even once pondered about the past?

生老病死 (shēng lǎo bìng sǐ) is no doubt something unavoidable for this is the cycle of life. These common phrase is perhaps the most basic suffering in everyone’s life. The fact that aging is unavoidable; illness is part of life and today’s development had made illness more curable and the pain more sufferable; and death comes by though at times without a sign makes this cycle of life somewhat predictable and when time comes, the best is probably to embrace the arrival of sufferings as a part and parcel of life. Not having experience the full cycle of life, my thoughts probably aren’t right anyway.

Though life is full of sufferings, the ability to free oneself from the sufferings of life and the world will bring about enlightenment and nirvana. For I believe 有因必有果 (yǒu yīn bì yǒu guǒ), karma lurks in every corner, and the correct teachings of the true path will put sufferings of life a step away. Nevertheless, life is a learning process.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” 
- Buddha

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