Question: “When you look at humanity what surprises you most?”
Answer: “Man, because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
- Dalai Lama
This quote from a discussion with the Dalai Lama poses an interesting question. How do we really live our life? Throughout the years studying Buddhism and examining human nature it seems to me that to really live means two things, one to know the self and two to be intimately aware of the connections, relationships and encounters we have with others. The two are not independent of each other, but are closely tied together.
We must make an effort to see the self-centered ways and attitudes we harbor. The two-faced hypocrisy of showing good and criticizing in our minds is against human nature and true happiness. True friendship comes from trust and trust comes from honesty. All the problems we see around us in our society and the world stem from a self-centered attitude. As mature adults we know the right thing to do but our selfishness creates barriers to the Truth.
The goal of every human being is to end suffering and live a life of joy and gratitude. In order to do so we must look at the self honestly. Are we like the man the Dalai Lama describes? A fundamental truth of life that the Buddha taught is that life is full of change. Change is the one constant in our life. Many may look at change with disdain and avoidance, because to them it represents old age, sickness and death. However, change also means transformation, moving from bitterness to compassion and gratitude. These can be cultivated by not giving in to impulses but practice patience and forbearance.
If you are fortunate to live long enough you will encounter many unexpected events in your life. Those events don’t have an inherent meaning of good or bad, we may consider them so if we hAve an ego centered self an event can fuel and flames that will destroy us. On the other hand, if we live with the true self the events will be the source of growth and deeper understanding.
The Buddhist temple is a practice hall where we as a sangha collectively learn about Buddhism and along the way cultivate the mind and look deep within the self, while revealing how we look at the world. Together as we share and listen to the Dharma we can begin to see the true and real self. As a Sangha we can develop an extended family with a shared sense of how to find joy and happiness and live comfortably through honesty and sharing. Buddhism is a religion of self-examination and self-realization through the Buddha Dharma. Together as a sangha we can find meaning in all the events in our shared lives.
Rev. Hosei Shinseki leads the Watsonville Buddhist Temple. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent those of The Pajaronian.