Are you puzzled by the nature of life? Do you fear life and the separation caused by death? Have you ever felt lonely?

In the philosophy of existentialism, loneliness is one of the ultimate propositions of life. In today’s modernized society, with the increasing degree of urbanization, more and more people are experiencing loneliness. However, when you understand the nature of life, you will understand that no man is an island, and that there is nothing truly alone in this world.

In this teaching, Grandmaster JinBodhi tells of a conversation he once had with Grandmaster Ren which will deepen our understanding of life. We will comprehend the law of endless cycles as well as eliminate fear from our hearts, so as to enter the state of great ease and wisdom.

【You will learn】

  • The nature of existence
  • The endless cycle that all lives go through
  • Ways to banish fear and illuminate the heart

【Featured aphorisms】

  • The moment we become one with the Universe is the moment our existence becomes void; there is no death without existence.
  • Afflictions come from the arising of thoughts; one less thought and the world would be more peaceful.
  • When you are not attached to your greed, your life will be freer.
  • Great freedom is about great health and wisdom.
  • Visualize yourself as a grain of sand, lying quietly and willingly with other grains of sand; this is called letting go of all attachments and becoming one with the Universe.
  • No greed, no fear.
  • When you are illuminated at heart, you will not fear the darkness.


Understanding Life

Now we have a better understanding of the world and the different lifeforms out there. It’s a very broad category. Yesterday we talked about what my Master said to me. I felt very lonely when I was young. I was afraid of the dark and feeling alone. Afraid that no one liked me. Afraid that my parents or Master wouldn’t want me. All kinds of fear led me to feel very unconfident and inferior.

So my Master said: “Child, how many stars do you see up there?” I counted, but there were too many. About hundreds of thousands. He said, “There are more, including those which our eyes can’t see. There are as many stars as there are people on Earth. Would every star feel lonely up there?” “They are densely packed together. I don’t think so.” He said, “So are you. You and I are together.”

I blurted out, “Master, what if you pass away?” He said, “Out with the old, in with the new. If I am not here anymore, there might be more people by your side.” “How can that be? Why would they? I look ugly.” He replied, “There are certainly uglier people by your side.” I realized I’d said the wrong thing. I knew I should stop thinking that way. This was the meaning of life that he told me. It is simple.

He gave me examples. He told me what life is composed of. The celestial beings scatter the seeds of life. Those that hang in the sky become stars. Those that land on the ground become sand. Those that land in the forests are grass and trees. Not a single life is alone. Life is connected; the sea and sand, and the sea and earth are all connected. The earth is also connected to the ocean and the sky. Hard to know. Think carefully. They are closely connected, right?

My Master said to me: “The Earth itself is considered a life, like the microbes on our hands. And here we are in pain, stress and fear; we feel timid and unconfident. For an unconfident child like you, the microbes on your hands are equally timid. The same goes for the Earth. Earth is a lifeform. It may feel lonely. Maybe it is enlightened and doesn’t feel lonely. It has the sun and moon as companions. Right? Like fellow dance partners. It feels that this could be its purpose. There is nothing in the world that is absolutely alone.”

I asked my Master one day: “What if you pass away?” Talk about taking no offense at a child’s babble. He said, “People don’t simply die. If one day I passed away, my physical body would stop moving. You could do anything to my body. I would be in the sky and one of the stars will be me.” “Which one would you be?” “The one that you like the most.” “Really? So you also don’t know which star you would be.”

“Due to clouds, you also won’t recognize the stars. And through the process of reincarnation, maybe any of the stars could be your mom, dad, master and past lover.” The more I listened, the more I felt comforted and sad at the same time. That is how our life is. I couldn’t bring myself to be happy. But I am no longer afraid of life, darkness or death. We won’t truly die.

Our lives are constantly repeating. Maybe in our next life, we could be a moisture-born, womb-born, transformation-born, air-born or even never-born being, etc. Life undergoes cycles. To be never-born depicts eternity. When I am one with Heaven and Earth, I am never-born. To be never-born is to be in a state of no-extinction. A thought leads to disturbance; letting go of one’s thought leads to peace in this world.

Thus, my Master told me a calm dharma realm is when the heart is at peace. I asked my Master what a dharma realm is. He said, “It is when you have seen through all greed, fear, attachment and suffering; you have let go of them, and you are not bothered by them. Your life will be free and at ease. No more pains or worries. So a calm dharma realm is when the heart is at peace. Dharma realm is the realm of your inner thoughts.”

“How do we nurture our dharma realm then?” I asked my master. He replied, “Don’t have greedy thoughts. Allow yourself to get rid of greed.” “How do you do that?” I asked. He said, “By giving to others. Learn to give, offer and be respectful in order to create sacred ground for yourself.” I said, “But my aptitude is poor and my foundation is too weak. It will be a long time before I can achieve this.”

He said, “No, it is not like this. The moment you no longer cling on greedily is the moment you have let go. Your life will be free and at ease.” I said, “I don’t want to be carefree. I want to be healthy.” He replied, “To live with great ease means to have great health. Living with great ease means having great wisdom. If you are a grain of sand, you can lie on the soil peacefully. That is called letting go of all ties and simply interact with Heaven, Earth, sun and moon eternally. Fear arises from greed. Greed comes from the fear of not having or losing, thus anxiety arises.”

I said, “Master, I am afraid of the dark.” “That is because you don’t understand. If no light is within, then there’s fear of darkness. If there is light in your heart, you will no longer be afraid of the dark. It’s called inner light. It can fill up your inner world and mind; allowing you to see everything with clarity.” I seem to understand yet may not.

Every time I think of what my Master said, I feel it would take a lifetime to grasp it. Let me stay in this zen state, a middle ground of being awake yet not, so that I can think about Master’s teachings. Being in this state actually helps me find myself over time.