Life is full of sufferings. Among all the sufferings, none is greater than that of birth, aging, sickness, and death."
Mundane beings have no control over their birth and death, and take rebirth in accordance with their karma after their lives come to an end. After being born to this world, they endure different kinds of suffering based on the negative karma they have created.
The concept of birth and death from a religious perspective is different from how the vast society perceives it. In our society, when a new life is born, people will want to extend their congratulations. In Buddhism, however, it is death that is worth congratulating, because death itself eliminates a portion of negative karma.
One’s sins and blessings are all created by oneself. Whether one’s life experiences on earth are sweet or bitter, fortunate or unfortunate, they are all the results of one’s past karma. Hence, we should accept what life brings us with a joyful heart.
Apart from birth and death, aging is also a form of suffering. As we age, our physical body has no control over itself and all our six senses will start to degenerate. Our eyes are unable to see clearly, our ears can no longer listen clearly, and we lose all our teeth. We cannot move about as quickly as young people and our mental ability is not as sharp as theirs. When people arrive at a certain age in life, their body gradually starts to age and degenerate.
The suffering of illnesses is even worse compared to that of aging! However, many diseases are preventable. There are two types of illnesses—illnesses of the body and illnesses of the mind. Those who fall ill physically must consult a doctor to seek treatment and ways to prevent the disease. But those with illnesses of the mind will need to seek the Great Medicine King—the Buddha—for healing.
After understanding about birth and death, we should develop the right values in life. In the society, people need to interact with one another and work together. Our achievements today are the results of the collective efforts of many people. Hence, the most important thing in life is to unleash our potential to do good. If all of us have the mindset that the purpose we came to this world is to learn from the sages and work to benefit the masses, we will live in joy at all times.
Extracted from “Huan Xi Zi Zai”《欢喜自在》
Translated by the Tzu Chi Singapore translation team