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Ven.Vodano Sophan on The Truth of Suffering

The Buddhist Channel, Jan 4, 2005

Calgary, Alberta -- First of all, we would like to share our compassion, condolence, benevolence and sympathy to those injured people and the uncalculable loss of lives. Our compassion will be boundlessly and indistinguishable.

What's happend and is happening in South Asia and South East Asia is, unfortunately, the truth of suffering. Life is suffering. Life is grief. Life brings disappointment. Life brings discontent. Life is about lamentation, abour being separated and abandoned. When we have life, we have to face with suffering.

These suffering are divided into two aspects: suffering of outsiders and suffering of insiders. Suffering of outsiders are the environmental phenomenon such as earthquakes, volcanoes, flood, drought, blizzard, war, hurricane, ...etc. All these are natural occurances in our world.

Suffering of insiders refers to battering that takes place within our body and mind, such as birth, old, sick, death, uncontentment, distress, pressure, anxiety, ...etc. Buddha said: Suffering on outside happens randomly, but suffering inside shakes frequently.

So what are the cause of these suffering? The cause of these suffering are the Desire, Hatred and Delusion. And the truth of these suffering operates under the rule of three natural characteristics such as impermanent, suffering/decaying and non-self.

Like the natural phenomena of the Tsunami which has killed approximately 150,000 people in Asia, we can see the forces of destructive nature vividly bringing about the reality of impermanence, decay and pain. You may think that such a disaster will not happen only happen in your backyard, but like the Asians, they thought so too. But reality dictates that it can happen in every corner of the world.

The Asian tsunami disaster brings to life the reality of decay. Like other regions around the world, the sea and coastal areas of Asia have given much benefits to human beings. Now it has turned to become a force of devastation for human beings. Life in the coastal areas is decaying or suffering. But we must never lose hope. The end is just the beginning, and the beginning leads to an end. The forces of the tsunami teaches us about non-self or egolessness, because it vividly shows us that while we are very smart, we are still not able to control it. We cannot comprehend it, yet it is beyond us to stop it from happening.

Many thinkers, discerning people and others holding dogmatic views will assume that this natural phenomena as the curse of a creator God. Or some ministry or congregation will take advantage of the situation and benefit from this traumatized event by indicating that it is a sign for the resurrection to heal or redeem us.

Such attitude belies the mirage of marketing, of glossing over the harsh nature of truth. Those who are ignorant, who has not taken to heart the Buddha-Dhamma will naturally wont to accept such persuasion. But the Buddhist point of view will not be diverged from the reality of the noble truth, even in such tearful and sorrowful situation.

As Lord Buddha taught "This is the truth of nature; the truth of impermanent, the truth of suffering and the truth of non-self. Subjects to constant changes are all conditioned things, so every body(monks and laypeople) must strive your best to deliberate yourself with heedfulness and endeavor".

Lord Buddha says: "Sabbe Satta Aniccha - every creature is impermanent. Sabbe Sattaa Dukkhaa - every creature is suffering. Sabbe Dhamma Anathaa - every Dhamma (supporting element) is non-self". You may notice that for describing impermanence and suffering, Lord Buddha used Sabbe Satta. But non-self, Lord Buddha used Sabbe Dhamma.

Dhamma cover all aspects. And the concept of Anathaa concept has as much effect on nature and as well as to human beings.

When people understand the nature of this eternal law, they will not fall away and do bad deeds. As such, they will not be gripped by fears and grief. When they have earned much good deed and developed insight into these three characteristics of life, they will live happily, accepting the nature of this changing world as it is, and thereby going beyond birth and death.

We must all learn to be conscious on the fact that grief caused by natural phenomena like a tsunami is just like the grief which one experiences thorugh every moment of breathing. When you understand this, you will not loss your mindfulness, compassion, benevolence, sympathy or condolence to others and yourself.

Blessings to all those injured and to those who lost their lives. May all beings be at peace, may they be strong. May those deceased be reborn again in the good realms.

Bless Them All,

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