Articles

Burden of a cross

This article is inspired by a dream that I had the night before. If you are a sectarian, narrow-minded Buddhist who despise other faiths besides Buddhism, please skip this article. For blog followers who have any doubt, my refuge in the Triple Gems has not wavered. LOL.

This dream came as a surprise to me. I was in a room with heavy stone walls and I was just about to leave. A very kind-looking old man with silver hair was about to enter the room through a long corridor.

He was putting on his loose-fitting white shirt that appears soft and has multiple pleats. The opening of his shirt is on the left shoulder and he was trying to fasten the opening with a button that resembles a cufflinks.

As we neared each other, he asked for my help to put on that button. He felt like a peer or a friend to me and in my mind, I knew him as the Pope.

That button was exquisitely beautiful with the symbol of a cross in/on it and it seemed to glow. There was a sharp metal extension from the button and it acts like a ‘thorn’ that dug at his left shoulder. I can see a scar on his shoulder that is probably caused by it and I felt a deep sense of respect and compassion upon seeing that scar, and in my mind, I understood it as ‘burden of man’?

After helping him to fix that button in place, he said thank you and I left the room. Woke up.


In Buddhism, we are taught that karma cannot be transferred onto others. Nor can it be undertaken from others. No beings, (including gods and goddesses) have the power to do that. If we commit a bad karma, it is ours to bear. Bad karma cannot be washed away in a river, nor can it be absolved.

So what can we do when we have bad karma? The solution is simply to do good and create good karma. To have patience and not to react negatively. For example, one tries not to steal or rob even when one is suffering from poverty.

Buddhist practices compassion by helping others who are suffering from bad karma. By offering a helping hand, we help to ease their suffering. Although the idea of undertaking the suffering of others is admirable and respectable, it is not possible. Otherwise, all sufferings in the world would have ceased upon the appearance of a savior.

On the other hand, certain mind training techniques involve the Buddhist practitioner imagining or visualizing the exchanging of their good fortune with the sufferings of others. That is just a mind training for cultivating an altruistic mind. It doesn’t happen in reality because karma is non-transferable. Otherwise, the world would have long been freed from suffering after the appearance of Buddha or Avalokitesvara.

For ordinary people like us, the idea of undertaking the sufferings of others, invokes a sense of respect. This is because we still have the notion of a Self and Others. The idea of a Bodhisattva untiringly helping sentient beings becomes admirable. We cannot imagine wishing to undertake the sufferings of others unto ourselves. But that thought is just our delusions running in our minds. In reality, there is no Self, to begin with. Thus, a Bodhisattva has no tiredness and no burden to bear. No suffering.

While we are still in a dream, some people practice with a thorn and we have to respect their practice too.

ULTIMATELY, The thorn is in a dream and is not there when we awake.

May all be well and happy.

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