Volume 5  No 2

From the Editor

Be free from all illusions

The word 'Buddha' means the 'Awakened One', one who is completely enlightened. Buddhism is, therefore, about learning to be free from all illusions and to view things as they truly are.

I learned this story years ago when I was in primary school: Once there was a boy named Elephant. His mother fell very ill one day, and the only hope of a cure was to have a concoction of medicine made of snake's gall. After a long search, he found a big snake that was sympathetic towards him. The snake allowed Elephant to crawl into its body to cut a little bit of its gall. They repeated this over a period of time, and Elephant's mother's illness began to improve. Then, one day while he was inside the snake, it occurred to him that this was getting a little troublesome. If he could have just a little more of its gall, he could save himself a lot trouble, and perhaps his mother would heal faster too. He took a cut slightly larger than its usual size, but that was enough to inflict an excruciating pain to the snake. It forgot about Elephant and snapped its jaws shut, and wiggled in pain. Elephant realised he had done a silly thing. But, it was all too late. The people came to know about this and invented the metaphor, "A discontent mind causes the snake to swallow an elephant", meaning even the strong and mighty are susceptible to destruction if they do not know about contentment. We will do well do heed the Buddha's advice to be content. Discontentment breeds illusions that deprive us of our peace of mind and happiness.

There is yet another reality of life that we all have to face - the passing of life. Perhaps the phrase 'renewal of life' is more appropriate because life really does not end. We transmigrate and experience rebirth. We take none of our possessions with us, except for the karma that we have created.

When we are free from all illusions and view things as they truly are, we will not want to commit negative karma ever again. This is the message of Buddhism.

Be free from illusions, be with Buddha.


Copyright 2002.Jen Chen Buddhism Centre