(Alvin’s Note: Our dear fellow Life Coach, and passionate personal development extraordinaire, Paiboon Busayarak, has embarked on a 3 month initiation into Buddhist monkhood in his native Thailand. He just sent me this post via email sharing the conversations he’s had with his teacher. The words are his, the grammar tweaking is mine 😉 Enjoy!)
The death of a friend or of a loved one changes our life forever. Even the deaths of those we don’t know, such as the thousands who died in the Tsunami at the end of last year, alters the way we think. Death is a fact of life and, when understood, teaches us how to care.
Many years ago in Thailand, my teacher, Ajahn Chah, raised his ceramic mug.
“See this!”, he told us, “It has got a crack in it.”
The monks looked closely at the cup but could see no crack.
“The crack is invisible now”, Ajahn Chah continued, “but it is there. One day someone will drop this mug and the crack will appear and split my cup apart. That is its destiny.”
“But if my mug were made out of plastic”, explained the teacher, “then it would have no invisible crack. You could drop it, knock it or kick it, and it wouldn’t break. If it were plastic and unbreakable, then you could be heedless. But because my mug is fragile, for that reason you must take care!”
“In the same way”, Ajahn Chah began to emphasize, “your body has a crack in it. The crack is invisible now, but it is there. it is called your future death. One day there will be an accident, a disease of old age, the ‘crack’ will appear and you will die. That is your destiny.”
“But if your life lasted forever”, Ajahn Chah concluded, “if your body were unbreakable like a plastic mug, then you could be heedless. So it is because our life is fragile because we know that we will die, that is the reason why we must care!”
Understanding death teaches us to care, for ourselves and all other beings.