This Too, Will Pass ~ MILESTONES

IF WE LOOK BACK ON THE WAY by which we came to the present, we see that the path was far from straight and predictable, but twisted and turned. Sometimes climbing, sometimes descending, at other times seeming to come to a dead end, it often ran into obstacles, suffering, pain, but occasionally brought us to happiness and joy. Through everything, however, we arrived HERE. Was not your journey— like mine— a wonderful adventure? However did we manage it?

No doubt, in your life— as in mine— there were many milestones or events we regard as significant and leading to other things. One of mine took place in 1966, when I picked up a discarded novel entitled The Satanist. Its author, Dennis Wheatley, wrote a number of such books on the Occult and 'Black Magic,' and had obviously done a lot of research in these fields. At the time I came across this book, I had no conscious knowledge of Dharma (that was to come later), but one passage in it had such an impact on me that I copied it down and still have it in my notes. I feel it was an important introduction, or maybe it resonated with and activated, dormant memories in my mind, and until today, I am grateful for having found it, as it accords with the way I see things. I reproduce it here:

In its highest sense, Light symbolizes the growth of the spirit towards that perfection in which it can throw off the body and become Light itself. But the road to perfection is long and arduous— too much to hope for in one short human life. Hence the widespread belief in Reincarnation— that we are born again and again until we begin to despise the pleasures of the flesh. Yet it is the inner core of truth common to all religions at their inception. Consider the Teachings of Jesus Christ with that in mind, and you will be amazed that you have not realized before the true purport of His message. Did He not say, "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you"? And when He walked upon the waters, declared: "These things that I do ye shall do also; and greater things than these shall ye do, for I go unto my Father which is in Heaven"— meaning, almost certainly, that He had achieved perfection, and that others had the same power within each one of them to do likewise. Unfortunately, the hours of the night are still equal to the hours of the day, and so the power of Darkness is no less active than it was when the World was young, and no sooner does a fresh master appear to reveal the Light, than ignorance, greed and lust for power cloud the minds of his followers; the message becomes distorted, and the simplicity of the Truth submerged and forgotten in the pomp of ceremonies and the meticulous performance of rituals which have lost their meanings. Yet the real Truth is never entirely lost, and through the centuries new masters are continually arising to proclaim it, or, if the time is not propitious, to pass it on in secret to the chosen few.

By quoting this, I want to indicate that Dharma— whether or not it is called Dharma is completely irrelevant; we shouldn't get stuck on or become addicted to words of any language— is never far away; it is not the monopoly of Buddhism, but can be found even in pulp-novels or in newspapers blowing around the streets; in fact, if we understood, we would see it everywhere; there is no place, no time, no body or no thing where Dharma cannot be found; nay, more than this: Everything is Dharma! But many of us don't/won't see this because we want to exclude others from our truth, want to possess and restrict, unable to see that this is as futile and fallacious as trying to chain the sea! We become attached to scriptures and other forms, interpreting them in narrow ways. I remember how people in a Meditation Center where I spent some time in Penang, Malaysia used to intellectualize and split hairs over silly things, obviously thinking they were achieving something thereby; they refused to use the word 'reincarnation' because— they said— it wasn't a Buddhist but a Hindu concept, as it implied the 'passing-over' of an immortal soul from one body to another, which Buddhism denies. Instead, they preferred the word 'rebirth.' But just an iota of insight would have shown them that, according to the Buddhist concept, this is also incorrect, for nothing is 'reborn' ('re' = 'again,' so 're-born' = 'born-again'). Wherein, therefore, is the word 'rebirth' more appropriate than the word 'reincarnation'? They were just wasting time. Life is a process, a movement, like the sea. The rise and fall of the waves is caused by a current of energy passing through the water; there are no waves apart from the water, and there is nothing static or permanent that passes through the waves, from one to another. So, although Buddhists, for convenience, use the term 'rebirth,' nothing is actually 'reborn,' as nothing in our mind-body remains the same for two consecutive moments even while we are alive; how much moreso when we are dead? It is not enough just to read and recite scriptures; if we are really to understand them we must apply and test them so that they become living experiences. We learn very slowly and painfully, and from many sources; indeed, we are deeply indebted to many people for helping us on our journey in many ways. Is this not sufficient reason to love humanity? Here, the words of Charlie Brown of Peanuts-fame come to mind: "I love humanity; it's people that I can't stand!" There's something profound in this. We might dislike someone, but that need not prevent us from loving that same person, for like and love are things quite different in nature; it is very important to know this. We are all members of society, which is composed of many kinds of people; some may be altruistic and self-sacrificing, while at the other end of the scale there are criminals, vandals and other stupid people who, far from contributing anything positive to society, are destructive and parasitical. But they are members of society, too, and efforts must be made to rehabilitate them. There are many cases of people with negative and anti-social attitudes being transformed by kindness shown them by others, just as there are cases of people being alienated and hardened by condemnation and punishment. Treatment of wrong-doers must be corrective, not punitive and vengeful. If we do something for the benefit of society as a whole, our actions embrace and include those we dislike as well as those we like; we do not say: "I'm doing this for these but not for those," community-action is for all, because it is done from LOVE.

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