There Is No Suffering 58

Therefore, there is no objective standard for purity and defilement. lf you think something is pure, it might be good practice to reflect on why you think it is. Perhaps you think I am pure and clean. Maybe so, but what about my breath after waking up, my body odor after I have worked hard in the summer heat, my excretions and bodily fluids? Would you be willing to ingest my phlegm? Consider these things before you label something pure or impure.

A waiter in a restaurant once brought plates to our table with his thumb in the food. Upon removing his thumb from the dish, he licked it. The person who ordered the dish told the waiter to take it back. He said, “It’s not clean.” The waiter asked, “Why isn’t it clean?” The diner said, “Because you stuck your thumb in the food.” The waiter replied, “I’m sorry about that, but, you know, I cooked the food myself. My hands touched all of the food on your plate.” Was the food pure or impure? This is a very mundane example, but it shows that people’s ideas of purity change from person to person and from moment to moment. It is not in phenomena, but in the mind, that we find purity and impurity. The question is whether one’s mind is stained by vexation.

Increase and Decrease

Now let us look at the third dualism: “neither increasing nor decreasing.” Your weight may increase by a few pounds, and you may think it is either good or bad. In our appearance-conscious society, where gaining weight has a bad name, many people try to live up to a conventional image of beauty by working away their fat. If it has no impact on health, what are a few pounds more or less? Every time l return from a trip, people tell me I have lost more weight. lf this were true, I would have disappeared by now. This is an example of how increasing and decreasing are relative things in people’s mind.