Monday, May 18, 2020

Why do people keep DYING, Fred Willard?

Fred Willard (Jimmy Kimmel Live!); reflections on life from the Editors, Wisdom Quarterly

Mara has a funny way of sneaking on you.
It's funny to ask, "Why do people keep dying?" And why ask funny Fred Willard? Of course they keep dying! We're all about death. That's what life is here in this short lived human plane (manusya loka). But it's not always this way; it lengthens and shortens through an aeon (kalpa).

According to Buddhist lore (as well as that of Hindu, Jain, Christianity, Judaism, and probably Islam, since it's Abrahamic and, some say, dreamt up by the Vatican), human life was previously much longer, and it will be again in the next Golden Age. Average lifespan is cyclical through the ages (yugas) of an aeon (kalpa). How short does it get? As brief as ten years. How long could it get? That's the mind blowing part. It can stretch out as long as 80,000 years.

That's no reason to be happy because it's all relative; compared to the average lifespan of the devas, 80 thousand years is not very long, and the pleasures the devas (the Greek type "gods") enjoy are far superior to human pleasures, and they are all mixed up with the same kind of nonsense we have here. But who believes the ancient sutras anyways?

In one very beautiful one, the Buddha tells of a time in the long gone by when there was a teacher, a kind of guru who taught his students, "Human life is short." Then he gave many beautiful analogies like dropping a sizzling piece of flesh on a red hot griddle or drawing a line on the surface of water with a reed or the morning dew evaporating off the grass. Human life is like that, very brief. Only thing is, that teacher lived long ago.

And at that time that he was teaching this very true fact, life was much longer than it is now. It helped the Buddha's listeners realize a sense of spiritual urgency (samvega) and to practice insight to realized the nature of radical-impermanence (anicca). It seems modern people always think they're so smart. But we constantly miss the point. The Buddha was not saying something so simplistic and banal as, "Things are impermanent.

See that hut over there? It's falling apart, and in a few years it'll be a heap of dust on the ground." Why would he waste anybody's time saying that? He was saying something far deeper that they couldn't fathom, know, or see. He was saying that at every moment things were collapsing, hurtling toward destruction, falling apart.

Now thanks to science we can see or at least intellectually appreciate that this is true: At an atomic level, everything moves so fast and changes, is constantly altering and vibrating and breaking bonds and reforming only to fall apart again that NOW we can see what he was talking about.

Because things are falling apart at that level, rubbing away constantly, on the macro level we eventually see change and transformation. But we do not only cling to the hut, we cling to every moment of this experience, this life, this identity when it's falling apart so fast that we could hardly keep it together to remember what we were in love with before we're onto something else.

The Buddha wasn't wasting time to say, "Don't cling to stuff (i.e., material things)." He was saying what do we really cling to most of all? The Five Aggregates: form (material stuff); feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness, the software, the psychological, the things clung to as "self." That's falling apart, and if we saw that for even an instant, we'd let go and be free.

But instead we cling and laugh at the old time Indian gurus and Central Asian sages, like the Scythian (Shakyian) Shakyamuni. But never mind. Just keep being surprised that people die. Will i die, too? We'll miss Fred Willard. And Lil Dicky. The rapper? No, Little Richard the gay, flamboyant Father of Rock 'n Roll, "Lucille, Tutti Frutti, Good Golly Miss Molly," the guy who taught us all to dance.

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