What we call life.. Is the combination of the Five Aggregates, a combination of physical and mental energies. These are constantly changing; they do not remain the same for two consecutive moments. Every moment they are born and they die. 'When the Aggregates arise, decay and die, O bhikkhu, every moment you are born, decay, and die.' This, even dow during this life time, every moment we are born and die, but we continue. If we can understand that in this life we can continue without a permanent, unchanging substance like Self or Soul, why can't we understand that those forces themselves can continue without a Self or a Soul behind them after the non-functioning of the body?
Someone, somewhere, needs to take courage to break the cycle of violence. Forgiveness is superior to justice. Being kind and compassionate to those who are good to you is easy. True forgiveness and compassion come only when one is able to forgive even those who have committed barbaric acts. If Angulimala is capable of renouncing violence, then tell me, your Majesty: is your civilized society also capable of being truly civilized and renouncing violence?
Stories are masks of God. That's a story, too, of course. I made it up, in collaborations with Joseph Campbell and Scheherazade, Jesus and the Buddha and the Brother's Grimm. Stories show us how to bear the unbearable, approach the unapproachable, conceive the inconceiveable. Stories provide meaning, texture, layers and layers of truth. Stories can also trivialize. Offered indelicately, taken too literally, stories become reductionist tools, rendering things neat and therefore false. Even as we must revere and cherish the masks we variously create, Campbell reminds us, we must not mistake the masks of God for God. So it seemes to me that one of the most vital things we can teach our children is how to be storytellers. How to tell stories that are rigorously, insistently, beautifully true. And how to believe them.
So it is with the mind, Nandini. Allow it to be in balance. Avoid extremes: the middle way is better. Neither force the mind too hard into concentration nor let it wander aimlessly. Meditation is to pay attention, to be aware of your breathing, your posture, your feelings, your perceptions, your thoughts, and all that passes through your mind and the mind itself; whatever is going on within you and between you and the universe. Meditation is not just sitting for an hour here or an hour there; meditation is a way of life. It is practiced all the time. There is no separation between meditation and everyday living. When you have ceased to be bound by the past or by the future, when you are fully present in the here and now, then it is meditation.
And the Buddha pointed out that his confusion was justified, for 'the dharma is profound, difficult to see, difficult to understand, peaceful, excellent, beyond the sphere of logic, subtle, and to be understood by the wise'. The reason for this is that it is not readily comprehended by one who holds a different view and has different learnings and inclinations, different involvements and instruction. It is clear from this statement that the conception of nibb?na in beyond logical reasoning, not because it is an Ultimate Reality transcending logic, but because logic or reason, being the 'slave of passions', makes it difficult for one who has a passion for an alien tradition to understand the conception of nibb?na.
Two ideas are psychologically deep-rooted in man: self-protection and self-preservation. For self-protection man has created God, on whom he depends for his own protection, safety and security, just as a child depends on its parent. For self-preservation man has conceived the idea of an immortal Soul or Atman, which will live eternally. In his ignorance, weakness, fear, and desire, man needs these two things to console himself. Hence he clings to them deeply and fanatically.