Saturday, August 28, 2010

Time for practice

M said to me, „I am very sick, I haven’t felt well for two months, so I can’t practice”.

But if you don’t practice*  when you are sick and in danger of death, when will you ever practice? Now is the time, when your life is fragile. In fact, your life is always fragile but only when you are ill you truly feel the fragility of life.

We are such that when we are healthy we don’t practice because we feel well. When we are ill we also don’t practice because we feel bad. So when do we think it is the right time for practice? When we are young we need time for girls and fun, when we are old we are too tired and we need time to rest....
We become lost in happiness or sadness. We always think that if we had this or that then we could finally concentrate on the Dharma.

A, for example, said she wants to finish her studies first at University and then she will have more time for the Dharma.... But what if you die while you are still a student, I asked her. She said smiling, „don’t worry, I can’t die so soon”.
There is really nothing I can say to such a person. If one does not have the sense of his/her own fragility then all is in vain. Without the thought of death, all Buddhist practices are just hobbies, not true practices.
Without the thought of death there is no urgency in our spiritual life.

I often see in the town posters about yoga classes with young naked women sitting in meditation postures and some verses promising good health and many other worldly fulfillment. But what if those posters contained verses like „there is no time, death is near” or „this might be the last day of your life”, I wonder how many people would attend the classes... Even if nobody would come to our dojos or temples, people should be made aware that Buddhism is not a mean to gain health, prosperity, knowledge, success, but to escape birth and death and become a Buddha, a truly free one.

To become aware of your own fragility and impermanence is one of the most important steps on the Buddhist path. The awareness of your own death is the best companion you can ever have. Like a faithful friend he will always warn you when you go astray and start inventing excuses for not listening the Dharma.

* Here by „practice” I mean to listen to the Amida Dharma. By listening again and again to the Dharma about Amida Buddha we can become opened to  the message of His Primal Vow and receive shinjin (faith) from Him. Thus, recitation of His Name becomes an expression of faith and gratitude.

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