Gain and Loss to Liberation
By Bhante Debongshi
Nature is not always kind. At some point it provides us with everything we need but then the time comes for it to collect every single atom of life. DMC’s regular activities were suspended last week due to a one-week memorial service for Mrs. Chanthochone. A large crowd gathered for the final day of rite. The separation from a loved one is a sad occasion for the relatives and friends who were close to the deceased person. It was a heart-rendering moment, but the participants listened to the discourse with undivided attention. The gift of dhamma allowed them to appease their saddened minds. During this difficult time, they learned to let go of their grief, which was caused by attachment instead of liberation from pain. In this discourse, I talked about life and death.
The Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta says: “Yaṁ kiñci samudaya dhammaṁ, sabbaṁ tam nirodhā dhammaṁ" - "Whatever has the nature of arising has the nature of vanishing." This is an eternal law. If this law were understood properly, one would no longer feel the absence of a departed being.
As you read this article, reflect on it in a conscious manner. If you can be simultaneously aware of life and death, you will know your existence entirely, since both of these processes occur at the same time. The combination of these two facets makes up your being. As you live and breathe, you are dying at the same time. These are not two different entities. Time is changing your life in every moment, and you are getting closer to the grave. This is the reality of life. Life and death are a constant process in your existence. At a certain stage, death will be complete. It is just a matter of time. When one’s life energy is over, time has come for death of that sentient being. Then it becomes clear that life is a combination of time and energy. This is the way in which the life form comes into being. If this were completely understood, one could turn away from the misery of death.
Life and death are like two sides of the same coin since they occur at the same time. Likewise, you are a combination of these two aspects of being. If you are not aware of this, you will know only one side of your existence. That means that you will live only one part of life and miss the other part of who you are as a sentient being. Living only a half life is an incomplete existence, which always brings misery. Please take a moment to contemplate the fact that death springs from life and that the karmic energy of a new life comes into being after death. Life is arranged in this way by nature. The Dhamma explains the law of nature. Everything that has the nature of arising has the nature of vanishing. This is an eternal law. The Buddha is the being who realized this eternal law - He, who transcended the borders of life and death and became a realized being who was free of attachment.
Generally, people grieve over the death of a loved one, but they are not grieving because the person is gone. Instead, they are grieving, because they feel they have lost an attachment to which they possessed. Naturally, when beings are separated, they feel the loss of this attachment and not of the being him or herself.
In the same way, the separation from a loved one - such as your mother, father, sibling, relatives, friends, objects or ideas - feels like a loss. Therefore, loss of any possession will bring enormous pain and fear. Whatever you hold close will bring suffering in the end. The Buddha uttered that: Piyehi vippayogo dukkho. Separation from endearment brings suffering. Therefore, the solution for this problem is in the letting go of attachment or possession. This is the path that leads to liberation from pain and fear, since it is in the endearment that brings grief and fear. One who has no endearment has no grief or fear and is ultimately free.