Monday, October 24, 2005

A flower in the universe 世界一花

A seminar on ZEN was held at Suntec City over the last weekend. This article shares my thought of the theme “a flower in the universe” (世界一花).

A flower is in the vase. The flower is fresh, beautiful, blossom and fragrance. We appreciate it as if it exists permanently.

As days go by, it withers, turns brown, and soon it dies and be thrown away.

Our mind grasps at the flower from its own side, not realising that “flower” is a living thing. Moreover, the name “flower” is just a noun or a representation that people have given to a certain phenomenon with certain characteristics. People with other languages would call it by other names (e.g. Fleur, Fiore, 花, 꽃, femenino.)

What is the true story of the flower? It is not that “I’m a flower. I’ve always been here and always will be here.” It doesn’t exist in this way always.

In reality, the flower is impermanent, dependent on various causes and conditions to exist, and is not existing in and of itself. The flower comes into existence in dependence upon a seed, soil, moisture and sunlight. Its existence is also dependent on its parts: stem, petals, leaves, cell and atoms that make it up.

By absorbing the energy and the essence from the universe (吸取日月精华), and under a balanced condition of ying-yang (阴阳), the flower exists. It appears to be a real, solid, permanent and independent flower. When we decompose a flower and begin to search for a flower, it could not be found. But this does not mean that there is no flower at all. The flower is only decomposed.

There is a flower – an impermanent collection of parts that comes into existence in dependence on causes and conditions.

In the same way, all things appear to be permanently, inherently, independently existent. But on closer examination, they actually exist in a different way.

After all these elaborations, what are we deriving at? Why should we be concerned about the existence of a flower?

There is this tendency to perceive, believe in and grasp at things as truly existing or inherently existing. Fear, worry, frustration, dissatisfaction, loneliness, grief, pain, and all the other myriad problems and sufferings of mind and body that we experience are caused by this thinking. The self-grasp ignorance leads us to see things as truly or inherently existence. With this thinking, we tend to neglect the surroundings, the “emptiness” of the universe and the true nature of things. We forget the “illusory”.

We want, in fact we have the potential, to enjoy ever-lasting peace, bliss, wisdom and freedom from all suffering. We all want to reach the state of enlightenment. But we are unable to attain this as long as our mind is caught up in ignorance, and does not understand the true nature of things.

A simple analogy is a rainbow. Due to certain conditions in the atmosphere and the play of sunlight and moisture, a rainbow appears in the sky. Although it looks so real, it is insubstantial, momentary. It completely dependants on causes and conditions.

Although most things last longer than a rainbow, the way they exist is similar. They only vary with each others as a matter of degrees. They arise due to the coming together, the integration of different causes and conditions. Like rainbow, they are illusory, empty of permanent, independent, substantial existence.

Can we free ourselves from self-grasp ignorance? Laozi (老子) had already thought of DAO (道) more than 2500 years ago. DAO is about the origin of universe, which is beyond the earth we live in. DAO elevated his body and mind. He lived eternally with the universe.

Similarly, more than 2500 years ago Buddha was enlightened and able to share his deep thinking of the process of nature: Dukkha (affliction) -->Samudaya (arising)--> Nirodha (containment) -->Marga (ways).

Keeping in mind of illusory without grasping at anyone or anything as truuly existing, there is a fascinating discovery: We are all transitional. We are all exist impermenently. Eventually, a dust returns as dust, a soil returns as soil (尘归尘,土归土). Once returns to the origin, eternality arises.

A flower in the universe is not just about a flower in the universe. Don’t you agree?

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