TBN #434: The Water at Leaf Lake has
- From TBN, issue 434
- The Water at Leaf Lake has Turned Cold - A Few Words During
- By Living Buddha Lian-Sheng, Sheng-Yen Lu
- Translated By Cheng Yew Chung & LC
- Edited by TBN
In my retreat at Leaf
Lake, I have not been swimming in the lake for about a week now,
simply because the water has turned icy cold! If I forced myself
to enter the water, the chill would make my teeth rattle as if they
were fighting in a war!
It was not true that the water had actually turned cold. It was
that my body had an unexplainable chi which would suddenly become
cold and then suddenly become hot, rushing up and rushing down.
The four elements of earth, water, fire, and wind in my body were
not in balance, and I felt as if I was falling apart. Therefore,
I could no longer swim everyday.
It started when I woke up early one morning to find my limbs extremely
weak, barely able to support myself. Pushing myself to overcome
the sluggishness, I was finally able to get up. Immediately I felt
a heaviness and dizziness in my head. Some weak fire was inside
my body. My arms and legs had lost their strength and I was overcome
with lethargy, feeling completely drained of vitality. I was petrified
and figured I had fallen ill. What should I do?
I stood in front of the mirror and looked at myself. Gosh! My exhaustion
was apparent. My face had a weary look, my eyes had no energy, and
my breath appeared steaming hot. The face I have been using for
fifty-eight years is starting to age. Upon close examination, I
noticed dark pockets beneath my eyes like a panda bear's. My forehead
was etched with criss-crossing wrinkles, resembling the rice-field
pattern of the Chinese character "?". My lower jaw appeared
pointy and thin, my skin tone was grayish-yellow, and my hair was
completely white. I asked myself, "Is this rough old head Living
Buddha Lian-Sheng, Sheng-Yen Lu?" When a person is sick, his
face does look like he is half-dead.
I measured my body temperature. It was slightly high.
I measured my blood pressure. It was also high.
I had no strength to do any of the housework. My appetite for food
and drink was completely lost; the only thing I wanted to do was
vomit. When I coughed, my head felt like it was swelling up, and
my heart rate was very rapid. What exactly was my illness? I was
in great shock. I could only sit in the chair in my small living
area. The slightest thoughts on any matter would make me wince and
feel twisted in pain. I felt lost and dazed.
It was evident that a karmic illness had befallen me and my state
of health was gone. This illness was far different from anything
I had imagined, for I was too weak to even get up. My body [felt
like it] was literally on fire. I spoke to my personal deity, saying
"I am very tired, very exhausted. Where's my strength?"
When this demon of illness came, I finally understood the most feared
situation faced by a solitary old man, and the straightforward answer
is simply sickness itself. So, when you enter a reclusive lifestyle,
a retreat, and lead a solitary life, a key issue becomes: What happens
when you fall sick?
I used to be very calm, yet in illness, I become easily agitated.
I used to cultivate the Dharma with will and determination, yet
in illness, my cultivation is completed rather carelessly. I wash
frequently, yet in illness, my sweaty body carries a bad odor.
Controlling the agitation in my heart, I prayed to my three Personal
Deities-Golden Mother of the Jade Pond, Amitabha Buddha, and Ksitigarbha
"Must it be this way?"
"Is my karma this heavy?"
"Why must I tolerate all types of pain in this retreat?"
The response I received was, "When you consume food, it is
inevitable that the physical body will fall ill. Contemplate on
the body as impure! When illness befalls, the sensation it brings
is painful. Thus, contemplate on emotions and know that they bring
suffering. Your body is illusory, yet you wish that it will remain
healthy day after day. Contemplate on the impermanence of mind!
Your physical body is but an intangible configuration of the four
elements, as is the world around you. Contemplate and know that
all phenomena are devoid of inherent existence! Contemplate on the
dharma of selflessness."
Life is the same, requiring one to complete the cycle of birth,
old age, sickness, and death, regardless of whether one is in retreat
Listen, disciples-when you fall ill, go visit a doctor.
I went to see one eventually.
In my illness, I want to share a few words with you: Practice the
Dharma! When you gain the strength of cultivation, you shall be
able to see through the illusion of illness. Thus, in future, we
shall not lie dead in the six realms of reincarnation.