Isn't life so strange? Just when you think things are fine a curve ball comes and whacks you across the head.
A young man in my district is dealing with some very difficult health issues in his family, his little daughter has been struck down by a condition. She may not be able to talk or walk for a while.
It has made me realise and think about my own life and the life of all my family and friends and all of those who are held down by illness.
We are here for such a short time, and in that time anything can happen. It is vital that we form a strong faith and build a solid platform of community around us, so that when the winds of karma come crashing down upon us we bend, but we do not break.
Joan Halifax one of my mentors in life said "In Buddhism, we say, "it takes a strong back and a soft front." It takes tremendous strength of the back to uphold yourself in the midst of conditions. And that is the mental quality of equanimity.
But it also takes a soft front -- the capacity to really be open to the world as it is, to have an undefended heart. And the archetype of this in Buddhism is Avalokiteshvara, Kuan-Yin. It's a female archetype: she who perceives the cries of suffering in the world. She stands with 10,000 arms, and in every hand, there is an instrument of liberation, and in the palm of every hand, there are eyes, and these are the eyes of wisdom."
As Buddhists we open ourselves to the world, we stare into the void of existence. But when the void stares back at us, it shows us all.
Despite reincarnation, each life we live is unique, the combination of karma and characteristics that we experience in this present moment won't ever occur again, we are entirely unique in the entire universe. Ponder that for a moment.
That is why it is truly essential to savour our lives, each breath is a gift.
So if you do one thing today, and only one thing. Please reach out to those that are suffering, those that are ill, and those that are alone.
We must form a chain of support, a net, around the human lives that are struggling to maintain their presence on this Earthly realm. For when they are gone, they are gone forever.
I want to end with a quote from my teacher Daisaku Ikeda:
It is painful to suffer illness, but the most painful thing of all is to feel abandoned by everyone, that no one cares about you. When the dark hole of despair pierces your heart, your life force drains away. That is why it is so important not to abandon or forget those who are sick or in trouble. We need to continuously and gently communicate to them that we sincerely want them to get better.
Nam myoho renge kyo