Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. – Luke 6:37
The first noble truth in Buddhism is that all temporary things and states are unsatisfying. They are the source of dukha or suffering. The Noble Truths have their genesis in the Eastern traditions but one need not be part of these traditions or even be religious to understand their significance. Many schools of thought in the Christian and the Islamic traditions teach that anything that takes one away from God is a cause of suffering. Everything changes, it is then only God that remains the same. Even in Process Theology some aspect of this utter transcendence remains intact. Anything other than God is temporary and our attachment to it can lead to dukkha. This attachment includes things that we hold near and dear to ourselves like our family, friends and even ourselves.
I do not mean to advocate or endorse that one should not cherish one’s relationships. In fact, relationships are one of the reasons that gives meaning to life. I would say however do state that the loss of these relationships should be taken as expressions of God’s will. If loss is the state of affairs that God wants us to be in, then that is the lot that we should be content with. These words are easier to say than to follow; I speak from experience. All life is change, but I had not really suffered until my father passed away over a year ago. I was confronted with the meaning of loss – the abyss does look back if you stare long enough. Many other things in life started to unravel after my father’s passing, just like when the string holding together a rosary breaks and the beads fall one by one. My father’s death made me realize the meaning of absence – presence of loved ones that one takes for granted. That they will always be there but that is not the case. It never was and it never will be.
We lose our loved ones either in death or when they turn away from us. Absence because of death is irrecoverable, but turning away from one another need not be. In both cases we lose someone or something, we have to acknowledge that that was the will of God. To love the permanent and unchanging, is to recognize and agree with God’s will. This is not fatalism, it is about being accepting. Life is hard, I recognize that I am privileged just by the virtue of living in the US. Most people in the world do not have life as good. To make peace, to be content, is to give others the benefit of the doubt, to give others a chance. In the Islamic tradition, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) prescribed to make seventy excuses for others if one sees them doing something wrong. People, just like every other thing in the world, are in a state of flux. Today’s sinner could be tomorrow’s saint and vice versa. To accept both and find acceptance but not attachment is the way to overcome dukkha. We are never a finished product, we are always in a state of formation.
Image courtesy of DeviantArt.