Now and again I like to switch to CNN to get what is going on in the news. I watched this channel for their coverage on the Connecticut shootings in December last year. After that intense coverage I stopped watching the news on TV, and until only very recently did I switch on CNN again. As I was watching the reporting of politics, and weather, and other day to day non eventful news, the realization struck me that it would be only a matter of time before news of another tragedy would be reported. Whenever that would be, no one knows, but for sure it would be only a matter of time.
Then just within a matter of days, I read on the Internet about the bombings at the Boston marathon. CNN is on in the background, as I write this, reporting around the clock coverage from Boston. Never could I imagine that the understanding I had a few days earlier would come into reality so soon. And for sure in time, there will be more news of other tragedies. It’s only a matter of time.
The people who were killed or injured at the Boston marathon, cheering on the runners, could never have imagined that something like this could happen there on a sunny, eventful day. If they did, then few if anyone would have stood there. After all what is threatening about a free public sporting event? It was not some high-profile political event that is crowded with security. The people at this event are people just like you and me. One of those killed was an 8-yearold boy, who was there with his mother and sister waiting to cheer on their father who was running in the race. Recently he was photographed holding a handmade sign that said “no more hurting people. We want to think we might be the next to win the lottery, but never can we imagine that we might be the next to be involved in a life destroying incident. When it happens we are left standing in disbelief, wondering how this could have happened to me.
Part one of the book YOU WERE BORN FOR A REASON goes into detail about such realities of life. It gives us head-on examples of the kind of misfortune that can happen to anyone anytime. The purpose of reminding us about the reality of life is to make us aware of the reality of life. The more we are aware of the reality of life the more we can be prepared for reality when it strikes, and the less surprised we will be. Without knowing the reality we can never find a solution. If we have an illness that we don’t know what it is, how can we ever find the suitable remedy? The first step to leading a happy and fulfilling life is to know the reality of life. Without being clear about the problem in life, we cannot be clear about the teacher or teaching to guide us to the resolution.
Since part 1 of the book gives clearly the situation we all face in life, part 2 of the book gives the solution to the problems of life. What is such a life spent living if we all die in the end? How can we overcome the hardships of life? If human life is like swimming in an ocean with waves of suffering coming one after another, how do we live a life with joy? In such a metaphor, we would board a ship to be taken from the sea. On board a ship we no longer need to be battered by the waves, being pushed under the water, choking on salt water. This ship is Amida’s Vow. Once taken aboard we float over the waves secure in the salvation that nothing can hinder. Suffering changes to joy. The more the waves, the greater our joy. The more the suffering, the greater our happiness. Imagine if you can’t swim and you are in the ocean. The waves must seem terrible and intimidating. But once you can swim, you want there to be waves. With waves the experience of swimming is made more fun. Such it is in life when we are saved by Amida.
Suffering no longer becomes the hindrance it used to be. We know the joy of being born human, grateful to be alive in a world that has transformed before our very eyes.
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #28| 2013, Waves of Suffering Keep Coming
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