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Meditation Note from Alaska



Never forget the initial aspiration
편집장  2017-04-17 13:52:04, 조회 : 3,240, 추천 : 1135
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The Year of the Rooster 2017 has already started. At the beginning of this year, cold weather continued around us and a lot of snow piled up. Alaska had a huge amount of snow this winter, but it didn’t make much of an impact because it can happen here. Unfortunately, some places around the world were surprised by the effects of global climate change when they experienced unexpected cold weather, snow storms, and heavy rain. Being unprepared, disaster struck. My hope is that all of us will be prepared and have a safe year from such natural disasters.

Snow quiets the world, providing a good atmosphere for meditation and prayer. In fact, the famous  temples of Korea and China can be found in snow-covered mountains. A number of monks live in the cold and snow-covered Himalaya to pursue their spiritual life. When there is a lot of snow in winter, people don’t want to go outside and many outdoor activities are limited. Maybe that’s why many monks practice in mountain regions.

A cold and snowy day reminds me of one of the Jataka tales (stories of Buddha’s previous lives). In one of Buddha’s past lives, he was a young boy who lived in the Himalayas to devote himself to the practice of attaining enlightenment.

In the story a young man living on a snow-covered mountain offers to sacrifice himself for the sake of hearing a single verse. One day while sitting alone, the young man suddenly overhears a poem being recited.

“Everything in the world is impermanent. This law is the unavoidable fate of all living creatures.”

Listening to this poem, he was deeply moved. However, he couldn’t hear the rest of the poem, so he looked around. Suddenly, a Raksasa, a devil, appeared and said, “I am starving. If you want to hear the rest of the poem, you have to give me human flesh.” Then the boy told the Raksasa that he would sacrifice his whole body to hear the last verse of the poem. Thereupon, Raksasa recited the last verse of the poem.

“When one transcends both life and death, there is perfect tranquility and the pleasure of Nirvana.”

When the boy heard this verse, he was filled with joy and attained enlightenment. After carving the poem on cliffs and trees for other people to read, he threw himself from the cliff as he promised. At that moment, Raksasa turned into Indra, caught him, and then set him down on the ground.

This is a story about the spirit of Boddhisatva to attain enlightenment by transcending life and death.

Confucius said, “If I hear the truth in the morning, I am content to die that evening.” This means that  attaining enlightenment is most important.

For us ordinary people, nothing seems more important than life. Yet it is amazing how more value can be placed upon enlightenment than on life. This is only possible when a person gives up all secular attachment, which is an unimaginable condition for most of us.
I wonder at the resolution Buddha had and the effort he made to never waiver from such a choice.

Master Uisang in Silla Dynasty said in the Song of Dharma Nature, “When the initial aspiration is made, it is the moment to attain enlightenment.”

The young boy in the Himalaya never let go of his initial aspiration, so he was able to attain enlightenment and later became Buddha. Having the thought of pursuing enlightenment becomes the cause whereupon attaining enlightenment is the effect. Thus the initial aspiration becomes the cause and Nirvana is the result.

Basically, the mind of Buddha is not different from the mind of ordinary people. Mind is like empty space, thus everyone has buddhahood.  The cultivation of mind is to realize the truth. Therefore, it is possible for everyone to attain enlightenment and become a Buddha. However, ordinary people who have defilements and delusions which obstruct the mind cannot attain enlightenment without a decision to attain it.

At the beginning of a new year, many people make resolutions: starting a diet, quitting smoking, or doing exercise. However, resolutions last only a few days, and few people keep them until the end of the year. In fact, according to a survey, less than one percent of smokers succeed in quitting smoking by themselves. This tells us that keeping the resolution and achieving the goal are very hard.

Cultivation of mind involves not forgetting the initial aspiration, and effort is in keeping the initial aspiration. In Mahayana Buddhism, the boddhisatva way of practice is the recommended way to become a Buddha. Those who follow this are called boddhisatva. The boddhisatva’s wish or resolution is called “the great vow of boddhisatva”.  To keep the great vow requires a lot of energy which is called “the great power of vow”. In Thousand Hands Sutra, boddhisatva’s vow is so vast that it looks like the appearance of Buddha. There is an old saying that the great power of vow can control the power of karma. If you want to remove delusions and defilements, you must take the vow of boddhisatva. This begins with initial aspiration. I hope we can all stay true to our resolutions this year.


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2018-04-21
01:11:38


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2017-08-27
05:09:54



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2017-08-28
02:27:54



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