As people are respectful of those from whom they receive something wonderful,
the person who shares the true Dhamma is worthy of even greater respect.
Dhammapada verse 392.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
When the Master is no longer with us.
Dhamma is always present in our life, but to be true and committed disciples, we need a guide, someone who has walked the Path and realised the reality of birth and death directly for themselves.
This is such a gift to us, and cannot in truth be compared to any other relationship that we might have.
To be close to someone who wants nothing from you, but will serve and share their beautiful Dhamma food without conditions is a true gift, and their presence in our life can only be recognised as invaluable.
However, impermanence is the reality of all phenomena, and as the Buddha reminds us in his final great teaching, ‘whatever arises must pass away.’ (Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta)
It is by not fully understanding and so living in harmony with this fundamental truth of reality, that we suffer and struggle with life. So, the question is now, what do we do when the Master dies, or is simply no longer available to share their understanding with us?
Of course, the simple answer is, ‘we continue,’ and the only thing that will make that difficult to do, is to cling to a being who told you so many times, not to cultivate attachment to them. ‘You will all survive without me!’
Dhamma is eternal, but Masters come and go.
It is only by understanding directly and intuitively the fragility and unknowingness of life, that we will not wait until the Master is no longer available, but we will make every effort to be in their presence when they are still with us.
The Master presents only Dhamma. Rites and rituals may have their place in practice, but they are at best, only symbols for the Path, but they are not the Path itself. Do you understand? Only awareness, love and the guidance of someone who has walked this road themselves will bring a compassionate wisdom into your life.
The last year has shown us, without a doubt, the fragility of what is understood as ‘normal life’ and the lesson for all serious students of Dhamma is clear: Do not leave your Dhamma practice and contact with the Master until it is too late. Life is short and uncertain and the only thing that has true value is the practice that leads to complete Awakening.
Many years ago my teacher died in a moment and without warning. However, I am pleased and relieved to say that I had a long and intimate contact with him, but that contact almost exclusively was my responsibility. When a being has finished the journey they will support others, but they cannot carry them across the river of the worldly attachments and delusion.
Our Dhamma practice then, is essentially a simple affair, it just means to make it more important than anything else.
Now as we begin a New Year, with new hopes and aspirations, we can all choose to make important that which has true and lasting value.
May you and all beings be happy.
By sustained effort and self-discipline
the wise person will build themself an island
that no flood can sweep away.
Dhammapada Vs. 25
A Master was lying on his death bed and a disciple came to visit him.
The disciple asked how the Master was feeling, and the Master replied that he would be surprised if he was still alive the next morning.
The disciple was shocked to hear such a thing and exclaimed, “please don’t say that!”
The Master simply smiled and said, “Buddha with sun faces, Buddhas with moon faces!”
This beautiful koan has one comment to help clarify it: A Buddha with a sun face lasts for ten thousand years and a Buddha with a moon face lasts for a day and a night.
Integrity is the heart of Dhamma, this means to be clear! When we are clear, our life is clear, when we are confused, our life is confused. The equations in Dhamma are always very simple. Live with love and be aware, everything else is just words – noises in the air!
From: Buttons in the Dana box by Michael Kewley