Insights on Life: Letting Go of Life and Death

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Guan Ming

[] Because we
have sentimentality in the human world, we have sorrow from the
separation and death of our loved ones. However, the moon waxes and
wanes and people separate and reunite.  All those are unavoidable.
Death is the most terrifying event for human beings, but the wisdom of
the average people cannot prevent them from going through birth, aging,
disease, and death. Only the genuine cultivators who understand the
everlasting truth and life can slowly let go of life and death and
harbor no fear toward death.  Whether we can honestly face death
or not, there is nothing that can guarantee us that we will be free of
severe illnesses or sudden death in the minutes or seconds of our lives.

Where there is life, there will be death. Life and death are natural
and just as common as day and night. Being overly concerned about death
will harm our health, but wisely following the natural course enables
us to live a carefree life. It is very difficult for us to let go of
death and consider it as a home coming.  In the history of
mankind, there are two types of people who could take death lightly:
The cultivators who have experienced trials and hardships, understand
the meanings of life and death, and are enlightened to life, and the
people with broad minds and lofty ambition who have the spirits of
justice, honesty, and taking life and death lightly.


Once there was a Zen Master in Japan. He cultivated many years in many
different temples and had countless disciples.  He was an abbot of
a huge temple and many monks quit cultivating due to the unbearable
hardships.  However, he had more and more followers because of his
reputation. After he had enlightened to the true meaning of life, he
left the temple and none of his disciples knew his whereabouts.

Three years later, one of his disciples found the Zen Master living
with a bunch of beggars under a bridge in Tokyo.  This disciple
immediately asked the Zen Master to teach him how to cultivate. The Zen
Master said that only if the disciple could stay with him for two or
three days.   So, this disciple dressed like a beggar and
lived for a day like a beggar. The following day, one of the beggars
died and the Zen Master and the disciple buried the body on the
mountain.  After the burial, the Zen Master came back and slept
soundly until the next morning, but the disciple could not sleep. 
At daybreak, the Zen Master said that they did not have to beg for food
that day because the dead beggar had left some food.  The disciple
looked at the food, but could not eat even one bite. The Zen Master
said, "I already knew that you could not let go of life and
death.  You cannot cultivate with me." The disciple was speechless
and ashamed.  The Zen Master said, "You can go now. And don't
bother me again." The disciple left with sadness. People who understand
the essence of life and the everlasting truth have no fear and will not
be saddened by any separation and death of loved ones.  In the
carefree spiritual realm, they can laugh about life and death and then
transcend life and death. To take life and death lightly is the
important first step. Letting go of life and death enables us to reach
the higher spiritual realm. Only when we truly see through the essence
of life and death, can we face life and death optimistically and follow
its natural course with no fear. In that way, we will have an enjoyable
and carefree life.


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