#13: The road to perfection

6 April 2010 - 11:31pm Comments Off

What is so imperfect or unsatisfactory about our life, and daily challenges and encounters? We have to recognise this first if we seriously want to move forward.

We can debate all our individual experiences of it until the cows come home, whether they be good, bad or plain duh (neutral).

We can also sum them all up into seven types of suffering – birth, old age, sickness, death, separating from things we like, encountering things we dislike, and not being able to fulfil our wishes.

Imagine having to go through and repeat the above experiences lifetime after lifetime without end? Stop being obsessively bothered about your maid watching TV while you are not around, or losing sleep over some hair falling out of your head, or not making enough to catch up with the Joneses, or your husband / wife having an affair. We should be more concerned with the welfare of our future lives.

Yes, we need to give ourself a break, a break from a very ancient habit – addiction to suffering or rather, to hopelessness. We need to break away from the vicious cycle of the above seven types of suffering. Their causes arise from the poisons of ignorance, attachment and anger. Presently, they are dictating the quality of our lives and preventing us from realising our fullest potential – to become an enlightened one in order to benefit others.

Perfection is not about being Miss / Mr Universe, Mr Philanthropy or the richest person in the world. Perfection is measured by how much you can use your life to care for and be of benefit to others. Perfection is how much you are committed to give of yourself to others.

At the gates of heaven, do you think God will ask how much money you have made or how many children you have raised or how many hospitals you have built? Most likely he will ask you how much happiness you have given to others. That is what counts in determining where you will be reborn in your next life.

We cannot perfect the world. We do not perfect others. We can only perfect ourselves with the sole purpose and motivation of helping others. It is about us taking personal responsibility. We cannot be certain if we leave it to others.

As fully endowed humans, every one of us has the potential to be perfect. This may sound too good to be true, but fundamentally we are quite perfect – if only we can get rid of the Three Poisons. Let’s look at what effects the poisons have exerted on us.

Do you get irritated when someone cuts into your lane so you honk out loud? Why do we shout back when someone shouts at us? Why is it we are easily upset when someone criticises or accuses us of something we did not do? And don’t you swear when you are not given a raise after working very hard for the whole year?

Why is it that we can’t be genuinely nice or helpful to more people? Why is it that we can’t forgive easily when someone does something wrong to us? Why is it that we expect others to not criticise us, or to forgive us when it is our turn to do something wrong? Why is it we cannot be happy when others are happy or rejoicing at others’ good fortune?

We need to reflect with honesty and conscientiousness on what is happening here. All of the above negative experiences and responses are the direct and side effects of the triple poisons.

Have you ever wondered why we do not care about getting these poisons out of our system? If we are inert to wanting to get rid of them, this is due to the poison of ignorance. It blinds us so we don’t see them as the root cause for the continuity of all our problems and suffering. While the deadliest poison in the world can destroy only one life, these poisons of our mind are the destroyers of countless future lives.

There is a story of three people who drank poison but experienced different stages of poisoning. The first died. The second experienced the pains of bloody vomiting and stomach cramping, leading to the same fate as the first. If you are the third person, what would you be thinking?

 

NEXT: The Way of the Bodhisattva

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