This Too, Will Pass ~ WHERE DO WE STAND?

IT IS WRITTEN SOMEWHERE: "The real pain is the pain of realizing that the Way does not prevail in the world." All the evil and most of the suffering in the world comes from Ignorance and Stupidity. If we understood this we could do something to bring about a change for the better. And the more people who understand, the more we can change things; we are not powerless unless we think we are. Working alone, no-one can build a house, make a car or an airplane, etc., but cooperating with others for a common purpose, it is possible.

There is adequate food and other necessities in the world for everyone, but while some people have not enough, others have too much, and the gap between those who have and those who have-not grows wider and wider. What is lacking is Dharma or spiritual wealth, and until people undergo a transformation of consciousness and learn to consider others instead of thinking just of themselves this imbalance will go on, and no amount of legislation or war will correct it.

Now, nobody is so naïve as to reasonably expect huge numbers of people to drastically and voluntarily change their outlook on life; change comes about slowly in humanity as a whole. But we can— you and I— begin to move in that direction ourselves, and if we do, we shall surely bump into and discover other individuals moving along the same road; there are people waking up to reality all around us, one-by-one, each with their hopes, fears and aspirations, but they don't wear identification-tabs or make a great show to draw attention to themselves; yet we shall know them when we meet them as kindred-spirits.

It has often been said that "Adversity brings out the best in us," but this is being optimistic, because, while it might be true, the converse is equally so: it brings out the worst in us! For suffering and hardship to be of any eventual benefit to us we must first have a foundation of Dharma, so that we might be able to turn things around; without such a foundation, it is easy to fall into the habit of complaining, blaming others, feeling sorry for ourselves, or— worse— exploiting the situation for personal gain regardless of the effect upon others, like hoarding, black-marketeering, and so on.

We have ridden the wave for quite a long time already, enjoying the comforts and luxuries of modern life; but now the wave is curling over and threatens to hurl us into the trough below; how long can maintain our balance on the crest? Each extra day is a bonus, not a right to be taken for granted, and should be treasured for what it is, because, unfortunately, it cannot last. We are living in a 'fool's paradise,' and if we are not rudely awoken by some warmongering madman, it seems that climatic changes will effect this. Are we prepared, or have we been lulled, softened, weakened and robbed by our luxurious living? Time will tell, and probably sooner than we think.

I heard an amusing little story while in the United States this year: A Vietnamese Buddhist had been repeatedly approached by a Protestant pastor, and pressured to go to his church. Finally, he said to the pastor: "I won't go to your church because I don't want to go to your heaven."

Surprised at this, the pastor asked, "Why not?"

"Because", said the Buddhist, "according to you, everyone who doesn't believe as you do will go to hell, which means that all my friends and relatives will be there. Therefore, I prefer to go to hell and be with my friends than to go to your heaven where I wouldn't know anyone!" Bravo!

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