Today I was gazing through window watching snowflakes slowly drift down from sky and melt. It reminded me of this story:
After Prince Siddhartha revised his way of practicing from asceticism to the “Middle Way”, he sat down under a Bodhi tree in meditation. He told himself “ Even if I still can’t reach Enlightenment this way, and my only result will be death, I won’t get up!”
In the past he had practiced meditation and asceticism very hard, hoping to raise his esteem in the eyes of other ascetics. He was in a hurry find a release from suffering! In the past he had wished he could reach Enlightenment, receive this state’s wisdom and thereby become known as a sadhu (sage). But once he realized remaining near the Middle was the Way he was no longer adamant about being recognized as great and as having achievement. He felt much more drawn to getting closer to the truth of things.
On the seventh night all was quiet. Siddhartha felt his every breath as the pulsation of the Universe, and his entire body united with Mother Nature. He found that when he abandoned thoughts about “I” and “My” his vexations also disappear. He felt incomparable gratification and it seemed like everything in the world smiled with him. At this time he forgot about time, space, himself…everything. In the past he wanted to distinguish himself from others, but now he felt he was a part of everything and everything was himself. As Siddhartha sat in the starlit night he felt he had never been as leisurely and carefree as he did right then. He asked himself, “Is this Enlightenment? Is this release from all vexations?”
It is said in legend that Siddhartha remember his whole previous existence during this night’s meditation. He also discovered “Pancabhijna” or the “five supernatural powers.” From the ability called “Divyacaksus” or Devavision (the instantaneous view of anything anywhere in the form-realm; clairvoyance) that he realized the essence of Samsara.
He realized it is because of “Hetuppaccaya” (cause & effect) that beings are automatically repaid in a later life for whatever they did in their previous life/lives. It is through ignorance and committing sins that all living creatures are in “Samsaracakka.” Samsaracakka is the Wheel of Rebirth; existence that remains involved in one of the six great divisions in the wheel of karma: Naraka (hell), Peta (hungry ghosts), Tiracchana (beasts), Asura, Manussa (human being), and Devaloka (heaven) 1. He saw that all living beings follow their “Karma.” It is because of “Karma” that someone is born, lives, gets old, sick and dies only to be reborn anew. These beings (most of us) become stuck wandering perpetually!
After sitting under the tree for seven days and seven nights, Siddhartha finally reached Enlightenment. He saw penetratingly into existence and realized the source of everything. He awakened to the truth: “The essence of the Universe is non-arising, non-ceasing, non-defiled, non-pure, non-increasing, non-decreasing.” 2 Everything that appears in this world is gathered by “Hetuppaccaya” and also dissipated by “Hetuppaccaya”. Everything is just different varieties of phenomenon that change. For example water changes to ice and then becomes vapor. No entity can exist eternally, unshakable, and autonomously/as an island. Siddhartha told himself, “Everything is false. I am false. The reason why we feel vexation, sadness and suffering is because we don’t realize this truth!”
So, what is real? Sometimes when I look back to see things that happened in my life twenty years ago, or ten years ago, or even only five years ago, I feel like it was all a dream. When it was happening I thought it was real, but now that the really obvious phenomenon are over I think everything is just like Buddha said; false and impermanent phenomenon. Like a snowflake.
1 Samsara: As defined by “A Glossary of Buddhist Terms in Four Languages” Compiled by Lim Teong Aik. Published by Torch of Wisdom. Taipei, Taiwan
2 ”Sariputra, the Characteristics of the Voidness of All Dharmas” from The Heart Sutra as described by the Buddhist Studies website at http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/heartstr.htm. The Heart Sutra, as explained on this webpage, describes the concept of voidness well.