解惑篇──生活漫談 ／雲老禪師主答 英譯．陳曌
Q: Master, did you make a vow to return as a human? Will you be back?
A: The ‘I’ or ‘me’ in every single one of us shall return. The question is where does one end up? And how does one get there? So, it’s no use asking me. Rather, you should ask the ‘me’ in you. When the Buddha was born, he announced: “Between heaven and earth, ‘I’ am supreme!” There is an ‘I’ in each and every one of us, and it’s the only thing we can trust. The question is: what can we do to nurture and cultivate this ‘me’ of ours. After all, it is the only thing that no one can take away from us or replace.
Q: What is the correct attitude to adopt when we give others a massage?
A: I don’t think I can answer your question. It all depends on what kind of massage it is, the Chinese therapeutic message or the massage that is taught by commercial massage schools? It’s hard to say. But if you ask what sort of attitude we should adopt, my advice is pick a masseur of the same sex. This has nothing to do with being conservative or modest. After all, we humans do not always verbalise our thoughts but may harbour some other ideas, obscured they may be. This is why we often hear of things going terribly wrong in our society. It has to do with our own behaviours and thoughts. We need to be mindful of one thing: While we may be in control of our own thoughts, we cannot control the thoughts of others. Furthermore, one may be able to keep one’s behaviour in check, there is no guarantee others are able to do the same. Humans are capable of some crazy things which we find hard to explain. Merely telling oneself to keep one’s mind on the straight, or focus on chanting is quite unreliable.
Q: A friend of mine has been married for more than a year and is now eight months pregnant. Her gynaecologist recently told her that the foetus is a mongoloid. Considering the child will put both the family and society under much strain, the doctor has advised termination. As a Buddhist, how should one approach this situation?
A: The first question I have is why did she wait eight months to have a check-up? Proper medical procedure would require her to be examined right from the start. A foetus, be it one, two or eight months, it’s a life. If termination is done earlier, there would be much less suffering. Am I right? I reckon she should talk things over with other family members and not make any decision on her own. It is important that any decision reached is after discussion with the husband or the in-laws, not one’s own parents. A family conference is best.
As to how the situation should be handled, from a Buddhist’s perspective, there are two explanations. One is due to undesirable connection established in past lives. The other is fate. But I will never out it this way because Buddhism is about realization, not fatalism. One must be absolutely clear about this. Neither it is a case of you incurring some debts in your past life and it’s pay-back time now. Otherwise it is killing.
Buddhism is about enlightenment and you need to ask yourself how much have you realized? You need to think. The issue is best handled by holding a family meeting. If your husband is able to decide, his parents may be agreeable. If your husband is not able to decide, and if his parents are against it, especially when they are superstitious, they may not believe the doctor. What do you do then? Therefore, it is best to talk it over with those who are involved.