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Lions Roar : November 2017
foolishness. Whatever the mind turns to, then think and know that thing with wisdom, aware of its nature. If you know some- thing with wisdom, then you let it go and there’s no suffering. The mind is bright, joyful, and at peace, and, turning away from distractions, it is undivided. Right now, what you can look to for help and support is your breath. This is your own work, nobody else’s. Leave others to do their own work. You have your own duty and responsibility and you don’t have to take on those of your family. Don’t take anything else on; let it all go. That letting go will make your mind calm. Your sole responsibility right now is to focus your mind and bring it to peace. Leave everything else to others. Forms, sounds, odors, tastes—leave them to others to attend to. Put everything behind you and do your own work, fulfill your own responsib- ility. Whatever arises in your mind—be it fear of pain, fear of death, anxiety about others, or whatever—say to it, “Don’t dis- turb me. You’re not my business anymore.” Just keep saying this to yourself when you see those arise. The world is the very mental state that is agitating you at this moment. “What will this person do? When I’m dead, who will look after them? How will they manage?” This is all just “the world.” Even the mere arising of a thought fearing death or pain is the world. Throw the world away! The world is the way it is. If you allow it to arise in the mind and dominate consciousness, then the mind becomes obscured and can’t see itself. So what- ever appears in the mind, just say, “This isn’t my business. It’s impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self.” Conditions are impermanent and unstable. Having come into being they disappear; having arisen they pass away. And yet everyone wants them to be permanent. This is foolishness. As soon as we’re born, we’re dead. Our birth and our death are just one thing. It’s like a tree: when there’s a root there must be twigs. When there are twigs, there must be a root. You can’t have one without the other. It’s a little funny to see how at a death people are so grief-stricken and distracted, fearful and sad, and at a birth how happy and delighted. It’s delusion; nobody has ever looked at this clearly. I think if you really want to cry, then it would be better to do so when someone’s born. For actually birth is death, death is birth, the root is the twig, the twig is the root. If you’ve got to cry, cry at the root, cry at the birth. Look closely: if there were no birth, there would be no death. Can you understand this? Don’t think a lot. Just think, “This is the way things are.” It’s your work, your duty. Right now nobody can help you; there is nothing that your family and your possessions can do for you. All that can help you now is correct awareness. So understand this point that all people, all creatures, are about to leave. When beings have lived an appropriate time, they go their way. The rich, the poor, the young, the old, all beings must experience this change. To put it simply, imperma- nence is the Buddha. If we see an impermanent phenomenon really clearly, we’ll see that it’s permanent, in the sense that its subjection to change is unchanging. This is the permanence that living beings possess. There is continual transformation—from childhood through youth to old age—and that very impermanence, that nature to change, is perma- nent and fixed. If you look at it like that, your heart will be at ease. ♦