Chapter 5: The Gateway of the Buddhas
“If you want to be free from this world of suffering, first you must contemplate impermanence.
Those who are born must inevitably die. Even the young are not exempt; even the strong are in danger. Even a long life does not last more than eighty years or so. If you don’t annihilate the nature of afflictions somehow, and arrive on the path of liberation, even if you ascend to the rank of sovereign of a nation, great minister, deity, spirit, or wizard, it is still evanescent as lightning and morning dew, lasting only for a while.
“When conditions meet, everything surely seems to exist; but when the conditions disintegrate - emptiness. This body is gained through the relationship of father and mother, and comes from their conditions. Solidity becomes skin, flesh, ligament, and bone; fluidity becomes spittle, tears, pus, and blood; heat becomes warmth and flexibility; air becomes breath and movement.
When these four conditions suddenly are exhausted, the body gets cold and the breath stops - there is nothing called “me.” At that time this body is really not our own; it is only a temporary inn. How can we be so greedily attached to this temporary inn that we ignore eternity?
“Contemplating these four transcendences - impermanence, suffering, emptiness, selflessness - seeking the way of enlightenment is called, “the teaching of four realities for disciples.” This is the essential gateway to beginning entry into the way for all enlightened ones.”
Maneesha, before I discuss Torei’s serious things, I have to introduce a few new animal gods into Avirbhava’s Museum of Gods. Before I call her, I will have to tell you something about these gods.
Sheep: The male sheep is known as a ram and has been a symbol of numerous gods. Osiris and Ammon-Ra of Egypt were both worshipped as rams. The ram was sacrificed each year in Egypt. It was skinned and the skin placed over an image of the god, recalling the time when Ammon-Ra was incarnated in the form of a ram.
Apes: In ancient Egypt, apes were considered sacred and were preserved by embalming them at death.
Mouse: One of the greatest of the Greek gods, Apollo, was known to take the form of a mouse in his role as sender of the plague. Apollo, the sun god, would incarnate as mice and rats to dispel the forces of night.