The following is a story I heard about the member of a rock band who was touring Europe with his group. The band was in Paris and on this particular day they were looking at the sights of the city. One of the attractions was Pere- Lachaise cemetery. Many famous people have been buried in this cemetery, including the rock icon Jim Morrison, whose grave the lead singer of this band was particularly interested in seeing. While at the graveyard, Nick, the lead singer, mentioned to the other band members that when he died, he wanted to be buried in Pere- Lachaise cemetery.
Walking down a street later that day, Nick was hit by a car that ran out of control. Nick was knocked to the ground. Although he seemed to be all right, the other band members decided to get him to a hospital just to be sure. He was given a check up and he seemed to be all right, apart from some cuts and bruises. The band members returned to their hotel for the night. The next morning the band had assembled, except for Nick. They called his room but there was no answer. They went to his room and when they got inside they found him in his bed, dead. The accident had caused internal bleeding that the doctor didn’t find. A few days later Nick was buried where he wanted to be, in Pere-Lachaise cemetery.
What grows from the soil is a result of what has been planted. There is no effect without a cause teaches Buddhism. If we don’t know what kind of seeds we have planted in the past, all we need to do is wait and see what appears. Life can have a strange way of working out. We end up doing things, working in jobs, going to and living in places that we never expected. Some say be careful for what you wish, for it might come true. The mind is the source of all action taught Buddha, and therefore the most important. However, we focus on what people say and do, simply because we cannot see what is going on in someone’s mind. To show the importance of mind action, in the legal system, punishment can be greater or less depending if the crime is deemed to be premeditated or an accident.
When we first listen to Buddhism we might think that compared to others we are good. But the more we listen to the teachings the more we become aware of our thoughts. In this way, we approach the mirror of truth. Continually listening to Buddhism we start to see ourselves in a different way than from before. Buddhism teaches that if something comes up in our mind, then it is not an accident that it appeared. It appeared because it was always there. It’s just that before we just didn’t see it. A plant doesn’t appear from nothing. There is always a seed.
Someone told me once that she has a friend who is very nice all the time. Except when she gets on the freeway. There on the freeway, she said laughing, she turns into a fearsome angry driver, very different from the person she knows. But, my friend said that this angry person is not the real her, that it’s the freeway that is the cause bringing it out in her. I would disagree. What appears is coming out only because it was there. There is a saying that there are three things that can’t be hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth. Just because one did not see it before doesn’t mean it never existed. In this way the more we listen to Buddhism the more we might think that we are becoming more of a bad person. The true nature of one’s mind will be shown stronger and stronger.
The more we see the dark nature of the mind, the more we will find ourselves practicing more good with our body and mouth as an attempt to overcome the evil nature that we are seeing. We all want to see ourselves as good. No one wants to see themselves as evil. So what a terrible experience it is when striving to be a better person that you start to see yourself as worse. You might feel like you are going backwards instead of forwards. Maybe you feel hopeless, that the more good you try to do, the more bad you apparently become. But that is not the case. It’s not that one is becoming more evil, but that your evil nature that always existed, hidden in the darkness, is being revealed because of the light of Buddhism.
(To be continued...)
Frank Costelloe, Los Angeles
Source: The Buddhist Village Times #43 | 2014, Something Appears Because It Was There (Part 1)
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