My feelings are overwhelming. My status of “being 20” will end in just a few hours from now. And then it’ll change to “being 21”. Gosh. I can’t believe I will have lived 2 decades!
I’ve changed a lot these past 20 years. Actually, I change a lot even in one day. I believe everybody changes a lot in one day, too, but you just don’t notice yourself well enough to recognize the changes. Did you know that in 1 snap of your finger, your mind has been born and re-born 1 million million times? Yes, I typed “million” twice. And that’s from Buddha, so you can believe it, because nothing he said has ever been proved false.
This past year I’ve turned from a skeptic to a believer of Buddhism. Every day I’ve found myself understanding more and more of the world around me. It’s this year that I’ve finally answered the “big questions of life” for myself. I’ve found the answers to questions that have bothered me since childhood – Why are we here? Where are we going? Where do we come from? Does God really exist? – questions for which have caused me to travel halfway around the world in search of the answer, for which I’ve paid for with toil, tears, stress, and even the welfare of a body organ. In this 20th year, I found that the answer was not somewhere out there, but it was here, here within me.
I have been meditating daily for one year now. In ways which are quite inexplicable, I’ve been enlightened through meditation. For one, I now know for myself that what they say about heaven and hell are real. Heaven and hell are real. Sinners do go to hell. You may wonder how I know. Let me say this – it’s just like how you know you are full after a meal. When I say I feel full, you understand what I mean, because you’ve felt full yourself. Those who have never eaten would never understand the notion of being full. It’s the same when I say I feel the existence of heaven and hell. If you’ve never felt it, you will not know what I mean. You’ll most likely regard it as bullshit, as we always regard as bullshit things which are beyond our knowledge, beyond our immediate senses. I was like that, too. Through meditation I’ve learned otherwise.
I shall call my 20th year my year of enlightenment.
This birthday I would like to stress the importance of the Five Precepts (ศีล 5). Taking care not to violate the Five Precepts will make sure you won’t go to hell when you die. On the other hand, violating the Five Precepts will make sure that you will go to hell when you die. Here are the Five Precepts:
- Refrain from killing all living creatures.
- Refrain from taking what is not yours.
- Refrain from sexual misconduct.
- Refrain from saying what is not true.
- Refrain from things that cause heedlessness, such as drinks and drugs.
To go to heaven, in addition to observing the Five Precepts, you must also have Hiri (หิริ) and Otappa (โอตัปปะ). Having Hiri means that you are ashamed of the misdeeds that you do. Having Otappa means that you are afraid of doing misdeeds, because you know that they will take you to hell. These two ideas are closely related, but not the same.
Is your life leading you towards heaven or towards hell?