hazards are appropriate or not, they still do not want to bother. Then how can we expect them to take such kind of precautions when they are in a foreign place ?

No matter whether one believes in "destiny" or not, eveyone knows about death and it is a step that everyone has to take at the end of the day. Yet people still tend to evade from this simple fact and try not to face it. Even death itself cannot turn people to think about the true meanings of life, let alone the ideas of "crises" and "suffering", and so it is understood that the meanings of life and death are almost non-existent in the minds of most people. Hence, the same happens when Buddhism teaches that "all things in life are impermanent", and so there is a Chinese saying that "even when we come to the death bed, we still do not know that we are dying." What a pity!

A lot of people are interested in knowing their own destinies, as to when will they become rich, get promoted in their jobs, get married, have children, and so on and so forth, and they will try to use methods like astrology, fortune-telling, palm- and face-readings, crystal-ball gazing, etc. to do it. All they are looking for are the "good things" in life; and in case when "bad predictions" arise, they will try to use various methods in order to shield themselves away from these "bad things" that might happen.

Indeed, only a very minority of people will have the consciousness that death will surely come, then how should one be prepared for this, and what is the meaning of life ? Furthermore, even less people will think about how will one die in the future, whether one will die in the midst of sufferings, unprepared and without dignity ? People care less because there is a good excuse for them : "let's have positive thinking", "don't think about death when we are still living, is it worthwhile to be alive in such a horrific atmosphere ?" And so, they feel themselves to be very positive about life, while they have a misunderstanding that Buddhism is very negative about life. The reason that they give is that all religions teach people to be good, and so why should we need to renounce from the world in order to practice the Dharma, and why we have to talk about "sufferings and death" all the time, when all other religions do not need to do so ?

If the teachings on "sufferings and death" can help one to understand the profound importance of liberating oneself from all sufferings, so as to rigorously uplift one's own strong will-power and inner potentials, to become totally determined to the Path in liberating oneself from the midst of sufferings, to escape from the six realms of cyclic existence (1), and to finally reach the goal of enlightenment, then this speaking of "sufferings and death" will have a very positive and constructive meaning in life and this is, indeed, most essential and fundamental!

After all, the most easily seen and understood phenomena in life are "sufferings and death", and that was the reason why the Lord Buddha taught the "Truth of Sufferings" ( the first truth ) in his sermon on the Four Noble Truths during his first turning of the Wheel of the Dharma after his enlightenment. In using "sufferings" as his point of departure, the Lord Buddha preached that by following and practicing the Path, one will be able to open up one's own mind without attachments, thus bringing peace, happiness and tranquility in this very life. Then, by the further uplifting of one's inner spirit, one will finally reach the ultimate goal of liberation and enlightenment - nirvana (2). This is the final attainment of the ultimate peace and tranquility, as well as the negation of all sufferings and their causes.

Most Buddhist practitioners, whether novice or long-time ones, know all these teachings, but many are still only engaging themselves in such a level of knowing. By using this "knowledge level" of sufferings to create a strong momentum, thus pushing oneself to really put these teachings into practice, one must use one's heart to listen to, to realize and to experience the cruelty of "sufferings". If there is no solid foundation which comes from true experiences, just theoretical knowledge will not be strong enough to push oneself to become steadfast and firm in one's practice, because the Path is long and winding, with many twists and turns, and can easily make people turn back.

Take a more recent example of the world famous movie "Titanic", where there was a scene which gave me a great shock at the depths of my heart. When most of the people were forced to sink into the deep and dark ocean, one can sense and feel the kind of great pains that they experienced. These people were in the freezing waters of minus twenty-eight degrees, and their bodies were chilled to the marrow, trembling with pains like -- CONTINUE --

CONTENT of Issue 2

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