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The true-self of life
Armed with my hwadu, with life and with peace, I took the first step on my pilgrimage throughout Korea starting from Nogodan, Jirisan (Mountain), on March 1st 2004.
I walked 10,000 li (4,000 kms) and talked with about 35,000 people during this pilgrimage. Now it is my pleasure to share some of my stories, some of my experiences with you.
First of all I asked people what is the most valuable thing to them? The answers varied greatly, some people said money, reputation, power, love, nature, life, and so on. The most common answer was life; anyway they thought long and hard about this subject.
If we say, life is the most valuable thing, then we must know our true-self. Once we are born, we will die. It only happens once to everyone. Because of this, we should know all about it, shouldn’t we? Most people didn’t know how to answer my question, they just looked at each other with an awkward smile, but they were clearly interested in this subject.
As long as we live, we can do many things: go to church, go to temple, we can be a politician, we can manage a family, we can fall in love, we can be a businessman, or an artist. It’s true, isn’t it? Without life, we can’t do any of these things. When I told people this, they began to realize the seriousness of the subject.
Jeong, Yankgyong, who was a scholar of the Joseon dynasty, had his own philosophy which was called Silsagus. This means an approach based on concrete facts grounded in truth. Now let’s approach the issue of ’life’ in his way. If the sun doesn’t shine, then there would be no life. It is absolutely impossible. Without water we have the same situation.
Besides, it is said, that without a star in the sky, not a single flower can blossom on earth. This is the truth of my life: it belongs to you. My life is not independent. My life is supported by others, which are related to my life. Supporting other beings is the forming of my life: the universe’s time, space, formlessness, tangibility, inside, outside, spirit, material and so on. My life is connected and supported by and through them. With these relationships, I can live. It is the truth of my life.
As we can see through this fact, we can realize the true-self of our lives because it belongs to something. Specifically speaking, my life is inseparable from yours. Looking at this fact more deeply, my parents are everything in the universe. We could even say that there is no place that is not my life ? and the same for you.
We have ignored our life and misunderstood it all along. Moreover, we must admit that we have a wrong conception of it from the beginning.
Now let’s talk about peace. There is no doubt that we all want to keep a peaceful life, it is our goal as well as our permanent dream and hope.
"Do you all agree with me?"
"Yes." People responded with a big smile. They focused on this issue more easily then earlier one, they thought more carefully about life.
Peace, we quite often talk about it. Then what is the condition we call ‘peace’? Most people regard it as something very splendid and they believe it is very sweet and very attractive. Actually, peace is created by our illusion. And then we go chasing after it, and we spend our energy trying to get it. But it is not around us; it can never be around us. While we are busy chasing the illusion, we really don’t know what we are doing.
Now, let’s see how the Buddha taught us peace and happiness. From his point of view, the terms for peace are nirvana (extinction) and liberation. Those are the conditions in which something is made extinct, and liberated from something, self-fulfillment. In that state there is no discontentment, no arising of hatred, and all resentment is extinguished. As we understand this truth more deeply, it is no more and no less. To interpret peace in the Buddhist way, it is the state of mind of no desire, no ignorance, and no hatred. That is the state of freedom. Then where is peace? Actually, it can be said, peace is nowhere. Now here, if we cultivate peace, then we have it as much we do. As we are getting less dissatisfaction, less hatred, and less resentment, then we are in a more peaceful condition.
How can we be in peace? There is only one way to reach it: that is available only through peace. Without a peaceful way of thinking, speaking and behavior, there is no other way to reach a state of peace. It is simple, isn’t it? Once we integrate all in this way, then we find peace, which has always existed. To do that, firstly we must realize our true life. As we mentioned before, we, ourselves are the universe itself. Therefore, there is nothing to complain about and nobody to hate around us. It is the first step for us to effectuate peace: cultivating wisdom to understand the truth of life. To explain this in a more modern way: it is to set up the world idea, which is based upon the truth of life. Secondly, our way of thinking, speaking and acting must be based on the order of life. What is the meaning of god in our life? Or what is the meaning of the Buddha in our life?
As we look deeply into our life, we see that it belongs to everything: It is related to everything such as time, space, formlessness, tangibility, inside, outside, material, spirit, human, and nature. These ‘things’ are the source of our life. So we should respect them and be grateful to them, shouldn’t we? It is the correct way for human beings to behave: to respect everything and to express our gratitude to venerable people. A good society is led by accepting and doing our duty. It is the path to peace when people do their duty. It is the only path to follow. Therefore, the Buddha taught us compassion and wisdom, Jesus taught love, Lao Tze taught action through inaction with Tao (nature), Confucius taught good heartedness and righteousness, and Socrates taught us to know ourselves.
There is no other way: we must keep on practicing. It is useless to kill ourselves so as to get a peaceful life. Concentrate on getting to know its truth, from now on. In every moment, be aware of the true-self of life, and just follow in its order. Then we will realize that each moment is a peaceful life, and so we will make a peaceful world.
To say all this in just one word: the path leading to peace is to be aware of our true selves and we should also cultivate wisdom and the ability to control ourselves.Let’s believe the path to be a Buddha: it is not that difficult, and it is the only way to be.