Every sentient being possesses Buddha Nature and it is for this reason that
everyone, (if they work hard) can become a Buddha. At the moment we cannot
recognize our Buddha Nature because it is all covered up with defilements and
illusions. These defilements and illusions are not in the nature of mind, they
are outside it and only temporary. Therefore, by using the right method we can
eliminate them and thus become enlightened.
In our human life we have many requirements: a place to live, food to ear,
clothes to wear, medical care. However the most important thing in our lives is
our Dharma practice because whatever worldly power or worth that we have, it is
only beneficial until we die. The longest life lasts for a 100 years at the very
most and after that we lose everything, including our precious body: the body
for which we care so much, which we have had with us from our first day on
earth. Many people think that after death there is nothing. However those people
don't have logic on their side. They deny the existence of anything after death
because they cannot see it as present. Indeed there are many logical reasons for
believing in rebirth. Mind is not a thing which could disappear, be burned,
thrown away, or smashed. The mind is something you cannot hold on to. You cannot
destroy it. So when we leave this body it is not going to be burnt, buried,
thrown in the ocean or eaten by animals. Although the body itself will be
dismantled one day consciousness, the mind, since it is not a substance will not
disappear. It has to continue so there is a life after death and at the time of
death the only thing that helps you, is the Dharma practice you have done
Even in this life there is a vast difference between those people who practice
dharms and those who do not. People who do not believe in anything more than
this physical world appear to be happy but when they face tragedy they cannot
cope with it. However the spiritual person when beset by tragedy and sufferings
will remember the basic teachings which are known as the "four seals".
Firstly that all compounds-anything that is created through a cause and
conditions-are impermanent. Thus the powerful person will become weak, healthy
people one day become sick, and rich people one day become poor. Everything is
impermanent. So when Buddhist people come into contact with such situations they
recognize them as a sign of impermanence, and that is faith.
Secondly Buddha said that everything which posses defilements is suffering so
when Buddhist people are faced with tragedy they know that the nature of samsara
is suffering just as the nature of fire is hot whether it be a small fire or a
big fire. The different realms: the hell realms, the hungry ghost realm, the
animal realm, the human realm, the asura realm all have different types of
suffering. Some of course have more visible suffering and some have subtle
suffering-but it is all suffering. We can learn this from the scriptures and we
can also experience this very clearly in our own human life. No matter where you
are - whether you are in a developed or an underdeveloped country, there is not
real satisfaction no real happiness. There is always some kind of problem and
there is always suffering.
Especially when facing tragedy, the person who has spiritual practice will
realize that suffering is inevitable and so will have a readiness to face such a
situation. This readiness lessens the burden on the mind and when the burden on
the mind lessens then of course physical suffering is naturally less because in
body and mind, mind is like a boss, and the body is like a servant. So when the
mind is happy, even when you are in the poorest country, or in very poor
conditions then you are happy. However if your mind is not happy, even if you
are in the heavenly realms you are not happy.
The third thing Buddhas has said is that all phenomena are selfless. In other
words although we all cling to a self actually there is no personal self there.
We always say 'my body', 'my mind' but where is the mind itself? It has to be
either in the body or mind, or in between, or somewhere external, but you cannot
find it. So in all beings there is no personal self. Similarly with external
phenomena like table and flowers. If you take these to pieces you cannot find
any part which is inherently the thing itself. Thus all phenomena are selfless.
Fourthly Buddha says Nirvana is peace. Nirvana is where all suffering is
completely exhausted. The special characteristic of a Buddhist is that he
assents to these four basic teachings:
1. Everything is impermanent.
2. Everything is suffering.
3. Everything is selfless.
4. Nirvana is peace.
In addition of course to be a Buddhist one must have taken refuge in the Buddha,
Dharma, and Sangha. This is so because in order to cross the ocean of suffering
to get to Nirvana, or the enlightened state you need to take refuge just as, if
you go to an unknown country, you need a guide to show you the path, you need
the path, and to accomplish a long and difficult journey you require companions.
Similarly when traveling the Buddhist path the guide is the Buddha and the
Dharma is the path you need to follow to reach the destination. However you
cannot just have someone tell you how to get there, you have to actually travel
there yourself. That is why it says in Buddha's teachings that you yourself are
your own saviour because you have to practice the Dharma yourself to reach the
goal. The Sangha are the companions who are travelling along the same path to
the same destination and who can help you reach the goal.
It is not enough just to know Dharma intellectually since to know it and
experience it are two different things. In order to experience Dharma from the
inside you have to study and think about it all the time. Many people say it is
difficult to practice Dharma in modern society because life is very busy and
there are so many disturbances. However Dharma does not mean just reciting
mantras and meditating alone. The most important sense of the word 'Dharma' is
to change our present worldly mind into a spiritual mind. You can do this while
you are traveling, while you are working, talking with your friends. Once you
gain a little experience of Dharma then everything you do actually becomes a
teaching. For example when you are travelling, you see so many people, you see
things changing, you see suffering. That is already an experience of Dharma
because when things are changing that is the teaching of impermanence. When you
see suffering you realize that the whole of samsara is suffering. In this way
dharms is actually something to be practiced by mind wherever you go, or
whatever you do. Everything can be turned to Dharma practice.http://mypage.direct.ca/w/wattj/jw/hhsigns.htm