Monday, 19 October 2020 09:46

Questions About Life

Questions About Life

Student: Master, I had developed stomach cancer. In the last relapse, the doctor informed me that I only have a few months left. Somehow, I think I should spend the rest of my time pursuing the meaning or truth of life. Odd enough, another voice in my head tells me otherwise that I don’t need to think about it. When I don’t overthink it or to ignore it, I wouldn’t be too bothered.

Questions About LifeAs for now, all I could do is to take chemo when I need to take chemo. I eat when I have to eat. I relax and indulge when I feel like to. I smoke when I crave for a cigarette. I’m living my life the way I want to live it. I believe that I’m “living the moment”, right?

Master Hsin Tao: Although we talk about “living the moment”, we are not actually in the moment. We are not at the moment when we should be. As the moment comes and goes, we are not “within” any one of it. Instead, we lose a lot of things in between. As Confucius said, “In the morning hear the Dao, in the evening die content”. This is worth contemplating. If we have no fear, no concern, and pay no attention to “death”. It is like driving on a highway that we need to know where we are heading. The same thing with life, we should know where we're going after death. Sometimes we might act like we don't care a bit. Actually, we do need to be concerned!

The moment that we're dying, lots of scenes would emerge. They could be horrific, lustrous, fun, and so forth. Yet, that is the critical moment of making choices. Among all the flashing scenes, how do we make the right choice of death or the choice for future life? How do we determine the proper decision when these images are so distracting?

Student: I think the hardest part is to “die thoroughly”.

Master Hsin Tao: There is nothing as if everything comes to the end with death. If that's the case, we don't need further discussion. Death is inevitable. It is just a matter of time. Then, here's the question: "Where do we go after death? Will we be reborn again?" Questions like these are worth contemplating. "If there's rebirth, how does that relate to this life?" Regardless of the time, we can control our future. There's a controlling point for future rebirth. Think about the question, "What kind of rebirth do you wish for?"

Questions About LifeIf we look around, a piece of grass or wood has karmic memory too. The memory will trigger rebirths. While flowers and plants grow from seeds, human beings come into formation based on karmic memory. We have a bank to save up karmic memory. Every being comes to life based on saving. So, what kind of karmic seed or savings should we put into the bank now? We have choices. We can choose positive seeds.

Since beginningless, every karmic memory is life. Take a moment to reflect, how many lives could generate from the saving. What kind of species will we be? It is like falling into the ocean and we drift to wherever the waves push without any control. By studying Dharma, we’ll know how to make proper choices with life and the future. If we just let karma push around, it is like putting our fate to “god”. If we have aspirations, we are in control. We can make choices for our own life.

By understanding the principle, we’d be clear-headed upon the dying moment. If we don’t ever contemplate, we’ll just finish this life in delusion. However it is, just let it be. We’d miss the opportunity to learn. Death is also a study. It is the learning of rebirth. Know that death does not put an end to everything. Although death is mysterious, we can study it and make changes. Even with the future place of birth, we can learn the way to make choices.

Extended reading
Life, the Composite of Causes and Conditions
Unfolding a Life of Brightness

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