Whisper deep in the soul Human's greatest contradiction

People want happiness yet cannot find it. This is a huge contradiction in all human beings.

A web conference last year was held on Part 1, Chapter 8 of the book You Were Born For a Reason:

Our lives are a constant search for happiness, yet we are in a headlong rush toward the one place we fear most - the grave. There is no greater contradiction than this.

Those who live only for the sake of living are, in a real sense, living with death as their goal. Although they may try to silence them, they hear the whispers deep within: “At the moment of death, all is lost. Yet somewhere, effort must have its reward!” “What if death comes suddenly, before I have time to prepare?” “What should I be doing now?”

When we look straight at the future that awaits us beyond all doubting, we find ourselves face to face with life's greatest issue.

Naked anxiety

We are in the midst of a health boom that borders on the excessive. Television shows and magazine articles are full of information on everything from diets that promote health to the safety of genetically altered foods and concerns about pollution from environmental hormones. Colds rouse barely a ripple of attention, but the words “cancer” and “AIDS” are red flags. That is because they represent diseases that are often fatal.

The German-born philosopher Paul Tillich (1886–1965) wrote in The Courage to Be that human beings cannot bear even for an instant the “naked anxiety” of death. A straight-on confrontation with death itself would be too terrifying, and so instead we battle illness and environmental problems. Fear of nuclear war, or earthquakes, or depression is based ultimately on the threat of death.

Each of us is “Death's fool.” Struggle to escape as we will, we can only run full tilt toward death. What may lie beyond the wall of death, we cannot say.

Is there any anxiety greater than an uncertain future? Because we are running in the dark, nothing we may happen to pick up along the way can provide heartfelt cheer. What is the source of this suffering, we ask. Unless we know the true cause of life's suffering, we can never know true relief or contentment. The ultimate purpose of life is to have the root of all suffering eliminated and be filled with the joy that exults, “How glad I am to have been born human!”

Confronting death does not mean sliding vainly into depression; rather, it is the first step toward making the moments of our life outshine the sun.

(Part 1 Chapter 8)

Last year through the web conference, Takamori Sensei told us about the “great contradiction of all human beings.” It is also explained in the book You Were Born For a Reason. We have also learned that everything exists in order to answer the question of why we live. How are Shinran followers today impressed by the answer to this question?

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #02 | 2011, Whisper deep in the soul Human's greatest contradiction

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