27 Oct Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra, Part 59
[Series of Master Shen-Long expounding on the Prajna Paramita (Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom) Heart Sutra]
(Last week we ended with: Therefore, next it states: Also, no ending of the unenlightened condition, at least to no old age and death, also no ending of old age and death.)
We all know the phenomena of “birth, aging, sickness and death”. Every day the older a person’s ages, the deeper the impression one has because you will gradually die.
Some ancient people were also beyond the imagination, where one’s coffin was purchased a long time ago and kept in the house and painted annually. These old ancient people had their tombstones readily inscribed when one was still alive, had one’s grave prepared at the earliest possible time, and some even lay themselves into the coffin beforehand to test out how comfortable it felt. The older men and women of before was this way, they wanted to be like a falling leaf returning to its roots, as with all things all eventually going back to their source. As expected, that person will die.
Why? One prepares oneself to die.
Also, some people say that they are getting old, and prepare a sum of retirement funds.
What is this retirement fund for? It is for medical expenses. One is preparing to get sick. One cannot prepare for being born because one had no choice, but one can prepare for “aging, sickness and death”; this is pathetic and very sad.
Why? Originally, we should be like free-range chickens living happily, and at the time of death, per everyone’s karma may be chopped by a knife or die suffering. This way is not that bad, one does not suffer too much. Nowadays people suffer exceedingly, wanting to have this or thinking of that, and when they are unable to obtain what they want, they feel unwell; or they are alive without choice.
Where are these phenomena from? They are the phenomena of aging and death because there are many things you want to finish immediately before your death. But I am telling you, you are eternally unable to finish them.
Why can it not be finished? If you have attachment and delusional thought in your mind, you are unable to finish it. After you finished it all, I tell you, there is no more time and space.
Therefore, ancient people regarded time and space as described in a poem by Li Bai (Tang dynasty poet, 701-762):
The year of life having not reached one hundred,
Yet the heart is in constant worry for a millennium;
The day is short while the bitter night is long,
Why not go wandering by candlelight!
He said: The year of life having not reached one hundred, yet the heart is in constant worry for a millennium; meaning melancholy lasts ten times one’s life span. The day is short daytime is short one is only happy for a few hours or few minutes that was all. While the bitter night is long, the sea of bitterness is vast, and the night is endless, one cannot sleep at night; so why not go wandering by candlelight. In ancient times, there was no light, and one must hold a candle to walk at nighttime.
What does this mean? It is to live happily with no thought for the future. Since you cannot sleep. Do not let the night slip by. To amuse yourself within this lacking a better option is known as seizing as much pleasure as possible amidst suffering and pain.
We can consider the life of Li Bai, a Chinese poet (701-762 CE), a genius and romantic figure during the mid-Tang Dynasty. In Chinese history, many people envied him.
His death, how did he go? He died by trying to fish up the moon. While he was rowing a boat, he was drunk and saw the moon reflection in the lake; he tried to fish up the moon and fell into the water and drowned.
Although the story is very dramatic, life is precisely this way.