It Doesn't Matter if Our Love Doesn't Last Forever
I've often heard a popular phrase on TV: "It doesn't matter if our love will last forever, what counts is that we have each other now." This phrase seems to portray an optimistic feeling, but it also has a dark side. If the phrase were transformed to become a careless attitude that says "life and death, it's all the same," it would be a clear demonstration of irresponsibility.
From a positive angle, a love that lasts forever is what average people hope for and is an important part of the thinking behind Chinese philosophy - that heaven and earth can never be changed. But these people do not know that heaven and earth are intrinsically ever changing. Heaven is a very abstract concept.
In concrete terms, the word means a celestial body, the Milky Way, the stars or the sky. But the heaven that average people talk about is a phenomenon of nature - cold winters, hot summers. Some people think that this is the norm, but in fact even the seasons are changing. So we call this impermanence.
The sky is changing and the land is changing. Looking at it from the standpoint of our lifetimes, the earth's crust is changing. From the angle of history, the earth is constantly changing. Some people say, "Seas change into mulberry fields and mulberry fields into seas," and mountains turn into the sea and the sea into mountains. Because all things are changing, "a love that lasts forever" is a concept, not a reality.
Therefore, if we possess only temporarily, what do we really possess? People usually think of material, wealth, social status and power because these items represent well being, happiness and success. But these items will also change. After possessing them for some time, part of them will disappear and the things that we do possess are not always good. For example: a typhoon. This may sound ironic, but after a typhoon has struck, you can say that we had a typhoon; after an earthquake occurs, we can say that we had an earthquake. But having these is painful.
Some days ago, a professor of our Institute of Buddhist Studies suffered a severe headache. Heavily bandaged, he came and told me: "Master, I have a troublesome disease - being single." But he was quite optimistic. He added, "Many people thought that I was injured on September 11th or in Typhoon Nari. I feel great joy that so many people care." We can see from this that some possessions may be blissful and some painful.
Recently, somebody told me that he was very happy to have donated to Dharma Drum Mountain last year.
He said if he hadn't donated the money, the money would have been lost. He told me that he lost his entire stock investment earlier this year. He once possessed some stocks, but even though his assets were diminished after he donated the money, he nevertheless possessed satisfaction and joy. However, because he did not cash out his stock investments in time, not much is left now. But he did a very good thing, and this hasn't changed. Therefore, we can only own substance temporarily, but a spiritual possession is something that can last forever.
A lot of people visit me after becoming government officials. I frequently tell them that they should design more policies for the convenience of the public. Personnel changes among government officials are rapid, but their good deeds remain after they have departed.
For Taiwanese nowadays, if you have made some achievements at work, though the position may change with the situation, your assistance and contributions to social growth will not be temporary - regardless of whether you are with the government or private business. If we can all share that perception, people will not have irresponsible thoughts such as "life and death, it's all the same."