Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Burning House


Haiku of a Wake

I went to a wake today.
It terrified me to no end
I'm scared to lose you.

I think what disturbed me the most about it was the mouth. It looked like it was sown together. I saw the faces those I love, one at a time, while I was kneeling and praying. Death really scares me. One day I will die. People who are so very important to me will pass away and I will not be able to speak to them physically again.

I never really think about it. It is a reality I read about or hear about on the news but never really experience it. Society tells us not to pay attention to it, to live our lives as if we will never die. Society, well at least in the America, wants us to avoid thinking about our afterlife and focus only on the here and now. Many times the afterlife will be portrayed as a joke or a fairytale told to children and if we are educated we will realize how stupid all of that really is.

The story of the Buddha reminds me of this. He was prophesied to be either a great king or a teacher of all people who will break the cycle of rebirth and death. As he was being raised by his stepfather, the king, he was groomed to be his successor. His stepfather gave him all the pleasures he wanted and hid from him all the pains of the world. One day he was taking a ride in a carriage, sees an old man and is shocked by this because he has never seen old age before. The next day he sees a sick person and is stunned with his first experience of sickness. The next day he sees a man dead in the road and realizes the shortness of our lives. After studying with different masters and schools of thought he decides to seek Enlightenment under a Bodhi tree and the rest is history.

Cool pic, huh?

He give this Parable of the Burning House to his disciples:

One day, a fire broke out in the house of a wealthy man who had many children. The wealthy man shouted at his children inside the burning house to flee. But, the children were absorbed in their games and did not heed his warning, though the house was being consumed by flames.

Then, the wealthy man devised a practical way to lure the children from the burning house. Knowing that the children were fond of interesting playthings, he called out to them, "Listen! Outside the gate are the carts that you have always wanted: carts pulled by goats, carts pulled by deer, and carts pulled by oxen. Why don't you come out and play with them?" The wealthy man knew that these things would be irresistible to his children.

The children, eager to play with these new toys rushed out of the house but, instead of the carts that he had promised, the father gave them a cart much better than any he has described - a cart draped with precious stones and pulled by white bullocks. The important thing being that the children were saved from the dangers of the house on fire.

Our life is that Burning House which will eventually collapse and be left to nothing. It is a scary thought, at least for me. I think of the man with the sealed lips... I was hit with the reality that those lips will not say the words, "I love you," anymore. I think that is what really scared me.

But this is Easter.

The season of the Resurrection when Life conquered death. Jesus comes to truly break us from death not by making us nothing; but by affirming that our life is worth something with His death. He conquered death! That is insane! Lord help me to realize with this means more and more everyday.

Pray well,

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