EXPRESSIONS OF FAITH
Three causes of suffering
By Rev. Bruce Y. Nakamura
The passage of a year seems yet momentary. Our minds create this moment, allotting its measure in units seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years. Binding these moments together like the front and back cover of a book are birth and death.
As each chapter comes to a close, we ponder: Have we managed the distress and agony of each situation? "Why, I think I've done pretty well, considering, and I'm going to do better for the new year!"
Yet, even these words are rooted in unsatisfactory feelings (duhka), a longing to bridge the disparity between my wishes and reality. Unpleasant feelings accompany my pain. Pleasant feelings accompany desires fulfilled, yet are bound to pain because they inevitably perish.
While an awareness might be characterized as spiritual, the Shin Buddhist term "foolish being" refers to oneself as "full of ignorance and blind passion, in which desires are countless, and anger, wrath, jealousy and envy are overwhelming, arising without pause; to the very last moment of life they do not cease, or disappear. ... "
Our principal sutra (truth) marks this "foolishness" ingrained in the depth of this defiled world by three poisons that cause duhka: greed, anger and ignorance.
As in the case of freeing the self from greed, one endlessly seeks the means to satisfy greed or keeps oneself free by desiring nothing the Buddhist monastic way. The former brings deeper realization that greed and desire, by nature, can never be quenched.
The same sutra proclaims: "People of the world! Parents and children, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, family members and relatives. All should respect and love one another and never hate or be jealous. The rich as well as the poor should never be stingy or greedy. Be gentle in speech and manner, and never contrary to one another."
The Buddha Sakyamuni's message holds true to today's chaotic world: "When beings quarrel and harbor anger in their minds, even slight dislike or jealousy from resentment will magnify and become a greater grudge."
Pain may seem insignificant but can inflict deeply into the subconscious, causing suffering, resentment, revenge and retaliation. Our pain and subsequent suffering caused by anger are an ongoing agony concerning human relationships. Behind this hatred and anger, there are deeply rooted self-affection and attachment to others. The suffering is caused by the tension between hatred and affection, anger and attachment.
We fail to realize that "happiness is gained through sharing." Sharing can bring about happiness, the serenity of thanksgiving and peace.
Ignorance is not confined to one person, community or society, but is handed down from generation to generation; they endure throughout the history of human beings. This is neither fatalism nor pessimism, but rather shows the fragile and precarious nature of everyday human life upon deep reflection, continuously spiraling into delusion and profound attachment.
The Rev. Bruce Y. Nakamura has been the resident minister of Jikoen Hongwanji Mission since 1998.