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Life is NOT a dream

December 30, 2013

My daughter knew the lyrics of “Row, row, row your boat” and many other nursery rhymes and nursery songs thoroughly inside out.  So when she was singing this together with her Indonesian cousins in Bandung (West Java), she noticed one of her her cousins sang the end of the song as “Life is NOT a dream”.  Being an American and having heard the songs many times, (and also being diagnosed as a student with 12th grade ability in reading), she naturally tried to correct her Indonesian cousin, who took English as a 2nd language.  But being pragmatic as she is, she cannot understand how “Life is but a dream” is actually the correct one.

“See, DREAM, and LIFE, they are very different;  Gimana hidup bisa menjadi mimpi (how can life be a dream)?”

My daughter tried her best to explain the poetic side of the song, but to no avail.  If you can’t beat them, join them.  So, along with them she also sang “Life is NOT a dream…”

The director of a Tibetan Buddhist centre here was talking about his constant dream of a particular instance (in a particular non-existent place) for almost 30 years.  In passing, I told him about my daughter’s encounter with this lyrics of “Row, row, row your boat”.  And another member remarked correctly that in Buddhism, life is in fact a dream.  That we take it so seriously and 著 (hold on to it “for dear life” with our might) , is delusional.  Would you in your dream, after pinching yourself, continue with a quarrel in that dream so as to win in an argument or prove to be correct in your own dream?  Everyone in that dream is a figment of your imagination, it would be a waste of time to fight for justice in your dream.  And such is this life, or for that matter our next life, and next, next life.

We are supposed to learn and recognize that this life with our impermanent body is there for us to prove ourselves by being selfless and  save other “sentient beings”.  It is our only way to show our morality, learn that the everything that seems real by us is made up of the five skandhas ( form, sensation, conception, discrimination, and consciousness)  and to make matter worse, we fail to see the equality of ourselves and others and embarked ourselves on a journey of ego; in Chinese, we say 不停的制造恶业 (continuously creating bad karma) and the consequence is 论迴 (samsara)。

So look deep inside ourselves, “life is just a dream.”  不要再著了。

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