Shakyamuni Buddha taught, "Life is suffering," and Master Shinran expressed this as, "Life is like an ocean which is difficult to cross." Indeed our lives are a succession of difficulties, distress, and disasters. If you are happy right now, how long will it last?
During Silver Week, a holiday period in Japan, a family of four went fishing in a river and were enjoying their boat ride when their two children fell out of the boat. One of the children died. When I heard about this tragedy, it made me realize that it only takes a second to go from the very height of happines to the bottom. The happiness we know in this world is so fragile that it can turn into suffering in a second at any time.
It is not easy to imagine the pain that these parents are going through now. But the same thing can be said for the happiness that we ourselves are seeking. No matter what it is, sooner or later it will definitely collapse. We are trying our best to run away from and avoid death, but it is impossible. In other words, we will never be happy.
So knowing this truth, what should we be trying to attain in our lives? It cannot be anything other than boarding “the great ship of Amida that carries us across the sea that is difficult to cross,” as taught by Master Shinran. I am now aware that as this world is filled with people who are suffering, Master Shinran’s teachings will reach people for sure.
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #59, Falling from the Height of Happiness
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