Grasping The Essence Of Buddhism

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Only a few Nepali readers are familiar with celebrated Chinese authors. Some of popular Chinese authors known to them include Lu Xun, Yang Mo and Mao Tun. Nepali left leaders and workers have read their books to draw inspiration for their political cause. Otherwise, the number of Chinese authors popular among the Nepalis can be counted on the fingers.

 In this regard, Nepali readers have recently begun to show their interest in Chinese author Xue Mo. His book “Xinjiang Budho Ra Aroo Katha,” a collection of selected short stories, which has been translated into Nepali by Malla K. Sundar, has recently hit the bookstands in Kathmandu and other parts of the country. Published by Book Hills Publication, the anthology describes human life as a journey filled with hurdles at every point. It depicts spiritual philosophy and peculiar cultural life. His life experiences as a spiritual guru provides insights about the value of life.

Xue is one of the top-ranking contemporary Chinese writers, with more than a dozen books to his credit. His works particularly reflect the western part of China. The world knows only a little about that part of China in comparison with its eastern flank. Hence readers get new taste from Xue’s works. Nonetheless, this article muses over Xue’s philosophical book, "The World is Reflection of the Mind," which is based on Buddhist philosophy. Buddhism has a significant impact on many Asian countries. One of the Asian nations with a strong Buddhist influence and the home to an enormous number of Buddhists is China.

The author is himself a Buddhist, who follows Maha Mudra School and, therefore, he describes the philosophy of life from the perspective of this school. The book contains seven chapters including Preface and Epilogues, and 42 sub-topics describe the essence of the spiritual life. Buddhism being a dynamic philosophy has practical solution to every problem a person encounters in his/her life. Based on the fundamentals of Buddhism, he talks about the temporality of everything and the inevitability of changes. He says nothing in the world lasts forever and permanence is merely an illusion. So, expecting something permanent in the world that is impermanent per se is like a dream. He describes mortal life as a dream that would end with a moment of disillusionment.

Xue urges his readers to follow the world of mind, not the physical one because the second world is merely an illusion. The world is not what the physical things are rather it is what one’s mind reflects. Mind is the source of wisdom, and one wins freedom in the true sense with the awakening of wisdom. But people not being able to understand true freedom are tempted to greed and desire for physical pleasure. They keep on wandering everywhere in search of pleasure and freedom that instead is embedded within their own mind.

Offering many practical examples, the author asks the readers not to cling to anything which could only result in suffering and a sense of loss. Since the world is an impermanent phenomenon, no attachment is reasonable. Clinging and attachment are the sources of suffering and obstacles toward true freedom. When anybody regards untrue things as the truth, the only consequence they face is to lose. And losing something is the main source of suffering and pain. So, if one wants to remain aloof from pain and suffering, then the only way is to keep own self away from attachment.

Xue appears to be a preacher when he not only sheds light on the problems of humans but he at the time suggests solutions to liberate themselves from the quagmire of human suffering. The writer encourages the people to stay away from anger and arrogance as they are the stumbling block to freedom. For him, finding wise teachers is the next step toward true freedom. Evil companions are also the next cause of ill outcomes. So, it's apt to remain away from bad friends and have good companies around. Here freedom doesn't mean one in a physical and conventional sense rather it is a spiritual sort of freedom free from unquenched desires. True freedom is born from the wisdom and the realisation of the impermanence of the world.

As Nepal is the birthplace of Buddha, it is imperative to pursue in-depth study of Buddhist philosophy and publish books on it in Nepali and English languages. By just taking a pride of being the citizens of the country where Buddha was born is not enough. Buddhism is a means of the soft power of Nepal and we should encourage Nepali writers to bring out more valuable and quality books on it. As the world is becoming a global village with the pervasive presence of internet and spread of social media, teachings and ideas of Buddha need to be propagated digitally to enhance the enlightenment tradition of Nepal.

Xue deserves kudos for publishing this volume with hard work, perseverance and deep commitment. It can enable the Chinese people to comprehend the Buddhist philosophy. 

J C Cleary has translated it into English, boosting its readership on a larger scale.  Readers can grasp the main ideas of the book, which are expressed in a way a novel expresses stories and themes. If it is translated into Nepali, more Nepalis will acquaint with Buddhism as well as the creative forte of its author.

(The author is a freelance writer.)

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