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Volume 7 no 4

It's a Blissful Life
Three Fat Ladies
Although there are “84,000” doors by which one can enter into Buddhism, there is only one path that eventually leads to the Supreme Enlightenment. Thus, even though we understand that people need the will and resolution to succeed in their aspirations, the experience of the Three Fat Ladies serves as a useful reminder. The second article describes the transition of an illusory mind, much like a jumpy flea, to the reality of the peace and quiet of our Buddha Nature. In the end, it is only by the will and resolution that we progress in our learning and cultivation.

With due respect to the three ladies about whom I am going to write, ridicule or malice is the last thing on my mind. I merely want to illustrate the point that we all have aspirations and we need will and resolution to see us through these aspirations.

In my office there is a lady, whom I shall call Jane, who you cannot miss when you step into the office. She sits at the reception desk and her face lights up whenever she was approached. Another reason why anybody could not miss her is because of her size. At about twice what her weight should be, she really makes her presence felt. Then, one day it seems like she lost most of what she had overnight. Her weight, I mean. She seemed to have become a different person. I learned that she had gone on a month long crash weight reduction programme with two others. It must have been tough on the three fat ladies – simple meals consisting of fruits or greens, a couple of biscuits, or two slices of bread, and lots of liquid, but the results spoke for themselves. I am quite sure they had to have a change of wardrobe! It was obvious that they felt good for themselves, brimming with confidence and pride about their success.

Having gone through the pains, I would imagine that the next natural step would be to hold the gains by observing a recommended diet and regular exercise. I guess it must have been challenging for them to resist the things that led them to the programme in the first place. Challenging it was, because despite the obvious good that they had seen for themselves, they gradually slipped back to their previous lifestyle. I wonder what they made of the signs that weight was creeping back at them. By and by, they regained all that they had lost. If anything, they had more than before.

They add to research statistics that the vast majority of people on diet regain their weight. It has been studied over and over again, and shown to be true. It is a pity that the fruits of their hard work were short lived, but that is what happens when will and resolution fade away.

Just as gaining weight is our own doing, so are our pains and sufferings. Often times, people in need sought solace in the methods of Buddhism. When the belief and commitment are strong, it worked for them just like it worked for the three fat ladies. Unfortunately, human beings have a tendency to take things for granted. When there is sunshine and all is well, we forget about rainy days. Before long, the old problems return and we are back to square one.

In a world where greed, anger and ignorance prevail, people are vulnerable. We have to work extra hard for that sunshine. Cultivation, therefore, deserves a high priority in our life. It is like swimming against the tide, but there are gains to the pains. In the Six Paramitas, “zeal and progress” is one of the six practices that can ferry people from the sea of suffering to the shore of enlightenment. We need to swim with “zeal and progress”, otherwise we risk being swept to where we came from, or worse still, be drowned in the sea of suffering.


Copyright 2002.Jen Chen Buddhism Centre