#7: To be or not to be FREE

24 February 2010 - 5:57pm Comments Off

What do we want to be free from? All kinds of suffering. Not only freedom from suffering from physical ailments, but also those things in our head that disturb us, stress us, make us dislike others and deprives us of a good night’s sleep.

Are we satisfied with being free from the above?

What about the suffering of death when we have to lose everything? What about continued suffering in unfortunate realms of rebirths as ghosts and hell beings? Even if we are reborn as humans, we know how frail and vulnerable to suffering humans are, physically and mentally. It is said that a breath separates us from death. If we lose some skin, we are open to all kinds of infections. We can be disturbed easily. A mere insult can trigger us to go into all kinds of emotional ups and downs which can even result in killing oneself to get out of the anguish.

For those who have faith in Buddha’s teachings and have developed conviction in the laws of karma, we can get a rebirth to the upper realms, and temporarily be free from the sufferings of the lower realms, by not doing 10 stupid things. They are really stupid things because the more we engage in them, the more we receive their negative results. The seed of anger planted in us during one moment of rage, in those 10 seconds to put someone down, just to get some satisfaction of wanting things our way, can throw us into hell in our next life. In the meantime, we become increasingly angersome and unhappy as the power of the seed increases with every repeated action.

For many, the idea of being a god in the heavens is the WOW-est wish. Lord Buddha said that it is not cool. Is it sufficient to become a god or human again in our next life? Even though they are fortunate realms from the perspective of having less suffering, there is no guarantee we will not be reborn in a lower state of existence in the future.

The suffering of gods at the end of their lifespan is said to be much worse than human’s. As a god, it is certain that the next rebirth will be lower; the wise saying ‘the higher one climbs, the harder one falls’ applies. Whilst lower realm beings can die with some hope of a higher rebirth, gods do not have that luxury. Neither can they do much to prevent their descent because over-indulgence in pleasure blinds them to their eventual demise. If one is insensitive to one’s own suffering, they cannot relate to others’ suffering. Hence they are unable to develop virtues like compassion which can protect them.

As we ourselves have experienced, humans suffer from the day we are born. We only know too well the sufferings of birth, old age, sickness and dying from observing others, if not ourselves, in those stages of life. Gods lead their lives exhausting their accumulated merits. There is nothing for them to look forward to except to go down in their next rebirth. Telling our friends that in our next life we are going to be a hungry ghost with a big pot belly and straw-sized throat, is not cool.

Having our wishes fulfilled to be reborn in the higher realms is like a prisoner who has been given a few days’ reprieve to visit friends and family. This limited freedom means whatever happiness that arises, is fleeting when it is time to return to the prison.

Being born as a god, a being in hell or in any of the six realms of existence are the same insofar as the conditions are unfree and the basis for suffering.

As long as we remain in this unending cycle of uncontrolled rebirth, it is almost impossible to avoid committing non-virtuous actions which are causes for lower rebirth. This awareness brings us to a profound conclusion – that if nothing is done to stop this cycle, we will have to endure suffering that is without end and escape. This is the reality that we should dread enough to want to get out.

Our determination to be free must be like rocket power to get out of the earth’s atmosphere. We must stop believing it is cool to take to the skies. We all know what happens when the fuel runs out.

We all have the potential to attain happiness which does not rollercoaster. We do not have to put up with low-grade happiness which is merely a reduction of suffering.

If you have this yearning to be free growing in you, you are now ready, step-by-step to say bye bye to samsara.


NEXT: Bye Bye Samsara – The Path to Freedom

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