deadly ideas on why this life matters

We must note that there is a thin but important line between having apathy and indifference feeling ‘we have to die anyway’, and understanding death and knowing about the real value for life. This post hopes to be in the latter realm! :mrgreen:

The whole root cause of all the misery we associate with death is our narrow tunnelled vision of life of just one lifetime that begins at birth and ends at physical death. I have absolutely no idea what’s beyond death and apart from occasional idle curiosity, I’m not that keen about all the philosophical views about it. Check out the perspective of these two twin boys in the womb about to be born…

“Are the walls getting smaller or are you getting bigger?” asked one twin.
“Can’t tell, but it sure is getting crowded,” said the other.
“Kind of a dull life.”
“Oh, not bad. Don’t have to breathe or eat. Just float around in this warm bath.”
“But is this all there is to existence?”
“Don’t worry yourself.”
“I heard about something called birth.”
“Rumors. Now move your leg and shut up so I can get some sleep.”
In the early hours next morning a horrendous contraction awoke the twins.
“It’s an earthquake!” shouted one.
“The house is collapsing,” said the other.
“I’m slipping,” shouted one.
“Where are you going?”
“Don’t know. Help me.”
“I can’t”
“Goodbye brother. I am going … going.”
“Oh, this is horrible,” moaned the remaining twin as he felt himself begining to slide. “This is surely the end of everything.”

And as far as theories of heaven and hell in the afterlife is concerned, I guess no one says it better than this old man…

The old monk sat by the side of the road. With his eyes closed, his legs crossed and his hands folded in his lap, he sat. In deep meditation, he sat. Suddenly he was interrupted by the harsh and demanding voice of a samurai warrior. “Old man! Teach me about heaven and hell!”

At first, as though he had not heard, there was no perceptible response from the monk. But gradually he began to open his eyes, the faintest hint of a smile playing around the corners of his mouth as the samurai stood there, waiting impatiently, growing more and more agitated with each passing second.

“You wish to know the secrets of heaven and hell?” replied the monk at last. “You who are so unkempt. You whose hands and feet are covered with dirt. You whose hair is uncombed, whose breath is foul, whose sword is all rusty and neglected. You who are ugly and whose mother dresses you funny. You would ask me of heaven and hell?”

The samurai uttered a vile curse. He drew his sword and raised it high above his head. His face turned to crimson and the veins on his neck stood out in bold relief as he prepared to sever the monk’s head from its shoulders.

“That is hell,” said the old monk gently, just as the sword began its descent. In that fraction of a second, the samurai was overcome with amazement, awe, compassion and love for this gentle being who had dared to risk his very life to give him such a teaching. He stopped his sword in mid-flight and his eyes filled with grateful tears.

“And that,” said the monk, “is heaven.”


My view of pragmatic living is that what we do now in this life is what really matters… as a story narrated by one of my beloved teachers…

There is a story told about Gotoma, the Buddha, and a man whose father had died. The man came to the Buddha crying with deep concern for his dead father. Sir, I have come to you with a special request: please do something for my dead father.

Eh? What can I do for your dead father?

Sir, please do something. You are such a powerful person, certainly you can do it. Look, these priestlings, pardoners perform all sorts of rites and rituals to help the dead. And as soon as the ritual is performed here, the gateway of the kingdom of heaven is breached and the dead person receives entry there; he gets an entry visa. You sir, are so powerful! If you perform a ritual for my dead father, he will not just receive an entry visa, he’ll be granted a permanent stay, a green card. Please sir, do something for him!

All right, the Buddha said. Go to the market and buy two earthen pots.

Two earthen pots? The Man was very happy now for Buddha was going to perform some right for his father. He returned with the two pots.

All right, the Buddha said, fill one with ghee (butter). The young man did it. Fill the other will pebbles. He did that too.

Now place them in the pond over there.

The young man did so and both of the pots sank to the bottom.

Now, said the Buddha, bring a big stick; strike and break open the pots.

The young man was very happy thinking the Buddha was performing a wonderful ritual for his father. Taking the stick, the young man struck hard and broke open both the pots. At once, the butter contained in one pot came up and started floating on the surface of the water. The pebbles in the other pot spilled out and remained at the bottom.

Then the Buddha said, Now young man this much I have done. Now call all your priestlings and miracle workers and tell them to start chanting and praying, ˜oh pebbles come up, come up. Oh butter go down, go down.’ Let me see what happens.

Oh sir, the man said, you are joking. How is it possible? The pebbles are heavier than the water, they are bound to stay at the bottom. They can’t come up sir; this is the law of nature. The butter is lighter than the water, it is bound to remain on the surface. It can’t go down sir, this is the law of nature.

Young man, said the Buddha, you know so much about the law of nature, but you have not understood this natural law: if all his life your father performed deeds that were heavy like pebbles, he is bound to go down; who can bring him up? And if all his thoughts and actions were light like this butter, he is bound to go up, who can pull him down?

14 Responses to “deadly ideas on why this life matters”

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