Something Appears Because It Was There (Part 2)

(Read previous part HERE)

How can one be at peace with such a mind that is revealed while listening to Buddhism? Others might say what a nice and good person you are, but that cannot bring comfort to the person who sees their own thoughts. Those striving towards the light are left to carry around the burden of such distasteful thoughts. However, by seeing one’s true nature, one knows they are getting closer to the mirror of truth, and the moment of true happiness. Nothing can be happier than this knowledge, that is except the moment of actually attaining the truth!

We never know what is going on in a person’s mind. I have heard that if laws did not exist, this world would be full of dead bodies and pregnant women. It’s no wonder that we get surprised that someone so young and beautiful commits suicide, or someone so innocent looking goes out and commits a mass shooting. We are experts in deceiving ourselves and others. The mind and the mouth do not agree said Buddha. But based on what Buddhism sees in our minds, we really don’t have a choice but to cover up our true mind in order to keep a respectable front.

But how many times have we been surprised by the biting look from a complete stranger because of something inadvertently we have done, such as getting in their way for a moment? We glance around and see their face, a face they would not dare show if we had been face to face. But on the flip side how many times do we ourselves give a hardened look when our desires are interrupted?

If someone else is capable of something horrible, then we too are just as capable teaches Buddhism. Thinking back to the example of a the person who gets angry only when driving on the freeway, to say that she isn’t that person is a misinterpretation of human nature. The reason why someone hasn’t behaved badly is not because they are not like that, but because the appropriate conditions are not present. It’s the condition that wasn’t there, not the nature. If something appears, it’s because it was there. This needs to be understood. We should not make excuses for ourselves especially for bad behavior. Buddhism tells us to look at ourselves in a straight way, to take off the tainted glasses of partiality.

Master Shinran’s life is a wonderful example of someone who showed the path that all people can go on. Although he lived 800 years ago in Japan, and spent 20 years on a Buddhist mountain, a life far removed from modern living, his struggles with his mind are the same as us today. Our environment is very different from his environment, but that is not the issue. The issue is what he was dealing with in his mind. For those who have watched animation #1, Master Shinran, The Light of the World, you will recall the time when he was on the mountain at night looking at the serene water of Lake Biwa, and the clear moon in the sky. He compared his tumultuous mind to such tranquil sights and became distraught at his lack of progress on the mountain. He was known as the Prodigy of Mt. Hiei because of his excellent behavior in deed in carrying out the practices of the Lotus Sutra. His good deeds in this regard were unsurpassed. Only someone who endeavors to practice good with all their heart can be shown the reprehensible nature of their mind. It is no wonder Master Shinran became distraught. With such a despicable mind, and with no one to offer a solution, he felt hopeless and left the mountain, carrying with him the knowledge of his false and deceitful self. Knowing this aspect of himself, he could rejoice at meeting the true master Honen who taught him the Vow of Amida, the vow made for someone exactly as him…and us.

Frank Costelloe, Los Angeles

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #43 | 2014, Something Appears Because It Was There (Part 2)

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