8 July 2008

Letter 2.31

There is a discourse where the Buddha says that it is not by going that one reaches an end. An end is reached by stopping. Activity is a means without an end, and therefore purposeless and empty. Reflexion at least might (and in fact does) reach an end -- although you will have to take that statement on trust until you see for yourself -- and is therefore purposeful. (In one sense, the purpose of reflexion is to understand what activity is all about, and in this sense they do in fact combine -- one can reflect upon activity -- in order to reach an end, to fulfill a purpose… If they are combined in the opposite way -- by acting upon reflexion -- then, as said above, there will be nothing achieved.)

Are thoughts about death necessarily morbid? Or can they be simply realistic? Is it not one's attitude towards death which can be either morbid or realistic -- morbid if one takes it as being something other than what it is -- an inevitable and frightening event awaiting each of us -- and tries to sugar-coat it (eternal bliss in heaven) or to ignore it by means of distractions (i.e. activity), and realistic if one decides that however frightening the event may be one will face it squarely and try to understand it (an absolutely necessary step on the Buddhist path) for what it is -- i.e. a real event we will not avoid simply by calling any concern about it 'morbid'. To one so concerned, of course, this is absurd and therefore humorous. Is it a morbid mind which sees the humor inherent in every situation? Or is it not true a truly morbid person is incapable of laughing, let alone at himself?

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