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Know that you are free from Birth and Death

by Thich Nhat Hanh, The Times of India, 8 Aug 2007

Hong Kong, China -- When conditions are right she manifests and when not, not. There is no coming, no going. Before she manifests we should not call her non-existing. Before manifestation you cannot call her non-being.

They are a pair of opposites. Meditating on the nature of creation and being may be the best way to understand God. Theologian Paul Koenig describes God as the Ground of Being. Who then is the Ground of Non-being? This diminishes God. In Buddhism both notions of being and non-being can describe reality. Similarly, above and below, there and here.

Nirvana is the absence of all notions, birth and death, coming and going, sameness and otherness. According to Buddhism, 'to be or not to be' is not a real question. Meditation takes us beyond fearlessness. We're too busy, so we become victims of anger and fear. If we have really touched our nature of no birth or death, we know that to die is one of the root conditions to realise oneself.

We have to learn how to 'die' in every moment in order to be fully alive. We should be able to release our tensions. We are the karma we produce every day in our daily life. A disciple in Vietnam wants to build a stupa with my ashes. He wants to put a plaque with the words 'Here lies my beloved teacher'. But i want to write: 'There is nothing here'. Because if you look deeply, there is continuation.

Treasure the time you are left with, for it is more for you to practice. Generate energy of love, compassion and understanding so you can continue beautifully. Use your time wisely. Every moment produces beautiful thoughts, loving, kindness, forgiveness. Say beautiful things, inspire, forgive, act physically to protect and help. We know we are capable of producing beautiful karma for good continuations and the happiness of other people.

Buddha's disciple Sariputra Ananda and other friends went to see Anathapindika, a lay disciple, who was a businessman and dying. He had made time to come to dharma talks and weekly practice. They asked him whether the pain had diminished. He replied that it was increasing. The monks led him on a meditation on the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. After a few minutes there was no more suffering and he smiled.

When you sit close to a person who is dying, talk to him of happy experiences in his life. Touch seeds of happiness in him. The monks asked Anathapindika to look at his feelings and perceptions. "I am life without boundaries, this body is a residue".

Help the dying person not to cling to his body. If there is regret, help them to see they are not his feelings. When conditions are manifested this body manifests and when not, it goes. The nature of this body is not birth, death, coming or going - not hurt by notion of being or non-being. I am free from birth or death. That practice helps me.



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