A couple of months ago, during the Medicine Buddha retreat in ABC, the very patient and gentle Geshe Chonyi told us a short story. Before that, without knowing what he would be sharing, I recorded a voice recording of this particular teaching. I do not normally record teachings but only when I felt a strong need to at that very moment. It turned out to be exactly something I feel strongly about and which I would like to share with my readers.
The below I transcribed what Geshe Chonyi taught ....
"Look at the ants, how hardworking they are. They go to different places everyday to search for food. Even if the place is 100-storey high, the ants will climb up in order to find food and to collect the food to bring back home. Sometimes the 'food' is a big dead insect, bigger than the size of the ants themselves. However the ants do not mind carrying the burden, they carry more than their weight everyday, diligently, day and night, up and down, in order to bring the food they found to store in their house. They pile up food in their house enough to last them for 6 months. So when the monsoon comes, when they cannot go out, they would be able to enjoy the food and do not need to go hungry for 6 months.
Compared to them, we are sometimes similar to the ants. We are looking for comfort, for happiness, for food, working, piling up our assets, to store for a rainy day, for old age, day and night we are sometimes like the ant, working, saving, and working hard for this life.
On the other hand, the lizard is not that hard working. The lizard is a different animal, who likes to find nice places like the porch, or cool stone, so that they can rest and relax. The lizard is looking for enjoyment. He enjoys the comfort and forgets everything else. But when the rain and storm suddenly comes, then he is caught unprepared. The lizard gets wet and suffers with no place to hide. Then at that moment the lizard starts thinking of having a proper house, and running frantically here and there looking for a refuge. This is the result of not being prepared. However when the next day arrives, when the sunrise is out, the lizard again goes back to his usual self, and goes back to relax, to enjoy its present state in comfort.
We are exactly like the lizard. When we are not sick, when we are doing well, we are like the lizard. We enjoy life and we do not think of anything else. But when the strong rain comes, or when our business is bad, or when we encounter some problems, only then we begin to think of finding the solution. We are no different from the lizard.
This is a good example of us. Working for this life is like the lizard. Working for the future life is like the ant. Here at the present, when everything seems ok, there is no Dharma. We do not think of the future life. Most of the rich people are like this, they usually suffer, there is no Dharma for them. They think that life is comfortable, they do not think that Dharma is useful for them. Then when something happens, when they become sick, they begin to search and seek for something to help themselves.
Hence, crucial practice comes to mind. When you presently have a good life, when you are still healthy, when you have happy opportunities at the moment, you need to do something to prepare for your future life.
We should seek more for that happiness now. Otherwise when the problem comes, or when we become sick, even if we want to do something, we cannot, because by then, the pain is too strong, and you would not be able to chant, to practice. When you are healthy and able, it is the best time to do practice. The problem is, we don't. It is only when the problem comes, we do something. By that time, it is too late. Sometimes the pain is too incredible, or if you are lying down as a vegetable, it is impossible to do practice. Always practice Dharma when you are still young and healthy, so that when problems arise, we are prepared and are able to handle it. Do not wait till retirement. Do it when you are young. If we do not practice, when the problem comes, we cannot handle. If we practice, when the problem comes, we are ready. And by doing practice, the other problems disappear as well. There is a huge difference when we are able to handle the problem."
Geshe Chonyi said this was the second time he related this story, the first was in 2000. That was exactly the message I like to share with and remind my loved ones and friends. The irony is, it is the strangers or readers or new friends I have befriended who usually listen to this advice. They are more receptive and more appreciative, and understand the underlying message, even considering I never even need to convince. I may not be a very good practitioner yet, but I can show them who are those practitioners whose lives have changed for the better. On the other hand, on the very very rare occasions when I mentioned to loved ones about practice, the answer would always be "I'm not ready".
By the way, today marks the Buddha's Descent From The Heavens Of The Thirty-Three. Any merits today multiply by 100 million times! Be good!
If you are keen to increase your merits today, join ABC for these events.