This reading bellow has some very interesting themes well worth deep and continual contemplation. Impermanence, Truth, and the Real Self.
The Gospel of Buddha:
Compiled from Ancient Records
By Paul Carus 1909
Samsara and Nirvana
Look about and contemplate life! Everything is transient and nothing endures. There is a birth and death, growth and decay; there is combination and separation. The glory of the world is like a flower: it stands in full bloom of morning and fades in the heat of the day.
Truth knows neither birth nor death; it has no beginning and no end. Welcome the truth. The truth is the immortal part of mind. Establish the truth in your mind, for the truth is the image of the eternal; it portrays the immutable; it reveals the everlasting; the truth gives unto mortals the boon of immortality.
Learn to distinguish between Self and Truth. Self is the cause of selfishness and the source of evil; truth cleaves to no self.
If we liberate our souls from our petty selves, wish no ill to others, and become clear as a crystal diamond, reflecting the light of truth, what a radiant picture will appear in us mirroring things as they are, without the ad mixture of burning desires, without the distortion of erroneous illusion, without the agitation of clinging unrest.
Yet you love self and will not abandon self-love. So be it, but then, verily, you should learn to distinguish between the false self and the true self. The ego with all its egoism is the false self. Happy is he who ceases to live for pleasure and rests in the truth. Verily his composure and tranquility of the mind are the highest bliss.
All compound things shall be dissolved again, worlds will break to pieces and our individualities will be scattered. Let us take refuge in that which is immutable in the changes of exitance.
Ideas to explore:
One of the core principles of the Buddhist religion is that the world we live in is impermanent, things are being created and dissolved, it is a constant state of change. In trying to build the foundations of our happiness on material and vain things, we only guarantee our own unhappiness, as these things will not last. As we author our happiness we also author our unhappiness. What are the things that do last? How do we recognize them and how do we build our foundation of happiness on them?
Truth is also an important theme here. What is truth, and how do we know it? We know that our ethics have changed as human civilization has moved forward. Things we view as immoral today were once common and accepted. Has truth changed with our circumstances, or have we just come closer to understanding eternal and unchangeable truth over time? If we can find these eternal concepts, can we look to them to give us refuge when we feel sad, helpless, angry and afraid?
The concept of the Ego is strong here to0, which Buddhism explores in great depth. Our biases, our experiences and our emotions can cloud our ability to be reasonable and rational. How do we learn to see our biases? How can we learn to accept that individual life experiences do not always reflect a greater whole, but more isolated incidents? How do we break away the chains of our negative experiences so the people who caused them no longer own a piece of our minds, no longer control our thoughts, and no longer dictate our actions? How do we learn to see passed the limited container of ourselves into an expansive horizon?
Our desires for material and vain things are part of the Ego and create a perpetual cycle of consumption. Once we have achieved these desires we only crave something new, never being satisfied with what we have. Should we not want what we have at some point? If we could practise slowly untangling ourselves from these desires, would the state of tranquility not be a more lasting and deeper reaching happiness?
Who are we underneath the large tangle of emotions and desires?