Who Has Ever Gone Beyond

The student asked the Buddha: “Why is it that wise women and men in the world—priestesses, rulers, and others—always offer sacrifices to the gods?”

The Buddha answered: “They offer things to the gods because as they get older they want to keep their lives as they are and have no misfortunes.”

“But, Buddha, does it ever make any difference to their old age by making these careful offerings?”

“Their prayers and praises and offerings and hopes are all made on the basis of possessions, rewards, and longings for pleasure. These experts in prayer are longing to continue becoming. But it will make no difference to their old age.”

“Please tell me, Buddha, if all the offerings from these experts don’t get them beyond old age, then who has ever gone beyond?”

The Buddha said: “When a person has thoroughly understood the world, from top to bottom, when there is nothing in the world that agitates them anymore, then they have become somebody who is free from confusion and fears and tremblings and the longings of desire. They have gone beyond getting old and beyond birth and death.”

—Sutta Nipata, from The Pocket Buddha Reader


We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.
Dhammapada, The Sayings of the Buddha, Thomas Byrom translation

We are more alike than unalike

“I’m often asked [a] question, and it always irks me. It starts like this, ‘Coming from two such different cultures–Scotland and Sierra Leone…’ I will often say to the interviewer, ‘Have you ever been to Sierra Leone?’ They’ll say, ‘No.’ So I say, ‘How do you know they’re so different?’ The two countries are actually strikingly similar. Let’s take my grandfathers in my Scottish and Sierra Leonean families: they were both not happy with my parents’ marriage; both are tall, thin, very athletic men; one is Scottish Presbyterian and the other one is Muslim, but both are very religious; both are highly patriarchal; and both had a tendency to indulge me as a child. These two men, from different places in the world, were – to me – almost exactly the same. If you can see that, then you can see that people are the same; but the presumption of difference that arises simply because we are talking about different colors and different continents, is where we start to go wrong.” — the author Aminatta Forna

Then, of course, beneath all bodies, all continents, beneath this physical reality, there’s just light. We are all made of the same light.