The late Venerable Sayadaw U Pandita on the Urgency of Practice
A reflection on practice by Other Teachers & Folks We Value
If you are still not convinced of the need to practice with great urgency, without attachment to body or life, the Buddha’s words may be helpful for you.
One should reflect, he said, on the fact that the whole world of beings is made up of nothing but mind & matter which have arisen but do not stay. Mind & matter do not remain still for one single moment; they are in constant flux. Once we find ourselves in this body & mind, there is nothing we can do to prevent growth from taking place. When we are young we like to grow, but when we are old we are stuck in an irreversible process of decline.
We like to be healthy, but our wishes can never be guaranteed. We are plagued by sickness & illness, by pain & discomfort, throughout our existence. Immortal life is beyond our reach. All of us will die. Death is contrary to what we would wish for ourselves, yet we cannot prevent it. The only question is whether death will come sooner or later.
Not a single person on earth can guarantee our wishes regarding growth, health or immortality. People refuse to accept these facts. The old try to look young. Scientists develop all manner of cures & contraptions to delay the process of human decay. When we are sick we take medicines to feel better. But even if we get well, we will get sick again. Nature cannot be deceived. We cannot escape old age & death.
This is the main weakness of beings: beings are devoid of security. There is no safe refuge from old age, disease & death. Look at other beings, look at animals, and most of all, look at yourself.
If you have practiced deeply, these facts will come as no surprise to you. If you can see with intuitive insight how mental & physical phenomena arise endlessly from moment to moment, you know there is no refuge anywhere that you can run to. There is no security. Yet, if your insight has not reached this point, perhaps reflecting on the precariousness of life will cause some urgency to arise in you, and give you a strong impulse to practice. Vipassana meditation can lead to a place beyond these fearsome things.
Excerpted from Sayadaw U Pandita’s book In This Very Life from Wisdom Press,
a collection of talks he gave at Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA. Sayadaw
was a prolific & much respected Buddhist teacher who had an exceptional
influence on American Buddhism.
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