Let no one deceive another or despise anyone anywhere, or through anger or resistance wish for another to suffer.

12 November 2009

The end of craving

"Through countless births in the cycle of existence I have run in vain 
seeking the builder of this house and again and again I faced the suffering of new birth. Oh, housebuilder! Now you are seen! You shall not build again a house for me. All your beams are broken, the ridgepole is shattered. Mind has become free from conditioning; the end of craving has been reached."
These words of the Buddha on reaching enlightenment are beautiful in the original Pali. When understood, they resonate also in English. The house is the body, composed of mind and matter and the source of suffering. The house-builder is not a god or a prime mover in the universe, but rather the accumulated conditions of unsatisfactoriness that prompt suffering. The beams are the passions that bring craving and aversion, hence leading on to suffering. "Association with the loathed is suffering; disassociation from the loved is suffering," as Buddha Gotama said in his first discourse. In other words, we crave to get away from what we don't want; we equally crave to be closer to what we want. Both conditions bring suffering. The ridgepole is ignorance of this contradictory state of mind. These contradictory cravings, pursued in ignorance, build conditioned states- sankharas -that swell up and blossom unexpectedly like ugly flowers, giving off the perfume of hate, greed, envy, jealousy, pride, fear and infatuation. We are each the house-builders of our own suffering. Once this is seen through the experience of observation, guided by the eight-fold path, the mind has the possibility of becoming freed from clinging, freed from suffering. Sankharas continue to arise in every being, even in Buddhas, but seen for what they truly are, as transient states that arise and pass like the breath, they become nothing more than tea leaves floating to the surface of the cup. They can be removed without effort. Like the leaves that made the tea, they have served their purpose. Like the leaves that made the tea, they did not begin as impurities, but as actions taken, as inclinations followed, as desires unrestrained. Take the time to learn more about this as if the matter were urgent. Dhamma will always exist. However, the right conditions for taking this sweet medicine may soon change, perhaps not for the better. Bhavatu sabbe mangalam!

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