Normally, what we talk about is consoling the life in between the birth and death. We are trying hard to get a good education hoping for a better occupation in the future. We are striving to make our lives better by improving our living status. Getting married and having children are also in our minds as some main ways of bringing happiness to our lives. We partake in many activities pursuing happiness. Both laypeople and clergies only talk about fulfilling these ambitions of a household life. Because of this reason, most people do not aware of a Samsara. The majority of people perform evil activities from their body, words, and mind in the course of chasing temporal happiness. As a result of these ignorant life styles, they get births in low-level worlds after their deaths. Some of them reincarnate in the great hell, some in animal world, and some in Preta world. They all suffer greatly.
Most people possess a life pattern that causes birth in the four low-level worlds because they gather bad Karma or demerits ignoring the dreadfulness of the Samsara. They postpone accruing good Karma or merits and only praising that temporal life, the life in between birth and death, repeatedly. Like a bunch of fish swimming inside a fishing trap (net), imprudent people get entrapped easily to these pretentious admirations.
On the other hand, our great teacher, the Buddha, showed us something completely different. He explained the danger of this Samsara often. The intention of the Supreme Buddha was to bring us the freedom from the suffering of the Samsara by revealing and making us understand the dangerous state that we are in this Samsara. He knows that the common people are attached to this Samsara because of their ignorance about its true nature. Once the Buddha addressed the Bhikkhus and preached the following:
“Dear Bhikkhu, what should you do if your robe or your head catch fire?”
“Lord Buddha, if the robe or the head caught fire, one should try hard, has a great effort, and a full commitment to put out that fire. One should also have a great awareness and wisdom to prevent its growth.”
“Dear Bhikkhus, one should indeed try hard, fully commit, and have a great consciousness and wisdom to realize the Four Noble Truths instead of focusing and thinking about putting out the fire that caught the robe or the head.”
- Cheela Sutta (S.N. 05) -
Why was that our teacher, the Buddha, advised us to commit completely to realize the Four Noble Truths with a great endeavor? It was because He knew that this journey in the Samsara is extremely dangerous. At another time, the Lord Buddha took some sand onto one of His finger nails and spoke to Bhikkhus.
“Dear Bhikkhus, between the amounts of sand on my nail and in the earth which one do you think is larger?”
The Bhikkhus answered that the amount of sand in the earth is billion or trillion times larger than what was on the nail of the Buddha. Then, the Buddha preached the Bhikkhus again.
“Dear Bhikkhus, like the small amount of sand on my nail, only a small amount of humans will be born again as humans after they leave this life. But, many other like the amount of sand in the earth will be born in the great hell (Niraya) after they die. They pass away and are born in Preta world. After leaving the human world, they will indeed be born in hell. The amount of humans who would get a birth as a human again after they die is very small. The amount of humans who would get a birth in divine worlds is also slim.”
- Pagnchagati Peyyala Vagga (S. N. 05) -
We have attained the rarest moment of freeing ourselves from this great peril. That is, we have been born as humans and an Order of a Buddha is in our reach. If we are to miss this great opportunity, no one will at least be able to think about the next place that we would be born. Even if we were born as humans to this world with a great family name or in a rich family, we cannot free ourselves from the suffering of been born in hell from any of those physical possessions. Therefore, we shall all be aware of the unprotected state that we are in, in this dangerous Samsara.
It is in fact very strange: in this small amount of time as a human being, our friends become our worst enemies. We even meet people who would swear to be enemies in our every life in the future. We get trapped in various struggles and battles with enemies. Also, friends who would love us so much will be met. By the time we are to leave this life, these enemies and friends will line up to meet us in the journey of Samsara. This results in meeting one another and face the related sufferings again and again. People who do not have a proper understanding about the danger of the Samsara would still wish to be born in it again.
This is why we are being lured into the Samsara, which is long and risky. It is also the reason why one cannot see a way to cross it to the safety. Most of them get a birth in a world that takes him/her to darkness in each step of the way when they end their lives as humans, which could be used to attain the realization of the Four Noble Truths.
As Buddhists who took refuge under the Triple Gem, we shall all often remind ourselves that we are disciples of the Gautama Buddha. We shall develop our potential of seeing the life in the way that the Gautama Buddha taught us. The nature of how merits and demerits construct within one should be comprehended. A sincere effort should be made to prevent accumulating defilements. Also, one should be truthful to oneself with a great effort.May you be able to realize the Four Noble Truths in this Order of the Gaitama Buddha and to free yourself from this dangerous Samsara of been born in the four low-level worlds!
- Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thero -