Fear of Nothing
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Once upon a time, there lived a boy named Lucas, who grew up in the care of his grandmother, Nora. They were very close. After Lucas graduated from high school, he would visit his grandmother regularly.
Nora had a very sweet tooth, and she often baked to satisfy her sweet cravings. Although Lucas enjoyed his grandmother’s baking, he was very concerned about her health. His grandmother could easily finish all the sweets she made and even had no trouble eating a whole box of chocolates in one go.
One Sunday afternoon, Lucas visited his grandmother. Just as he arrived, Nora had finished baking a chocolate cake for both of them. Looking at the size of the cake, Lucas said, “Grandma, your cake looks delicious, but I think it is too much for us.”
“It’s not too much, I can easily eat the whole thing by myself.” Replied Nora.
“Please don’t grandma, it’s not good for you. I thought you said you were having problems with your digestion. Surely, eating so much sugar isn’t helping, please...you must stop eating too many sweets.” Lucas pleaded.
“I’ve had a sweet tooth since I was young, and I am still alive,” Nora said.
“But you are already having problems with your digestion.” Lucas insisted.
“Oh...it’s nothing really, I take my medicine when I need it. So don’t you worry about me.” Nora replied as she cut a piece of cake to offer to Lucas.
“Thank you...But grandma, your medication cannot cure all illnesses!” Lucas replied.
Nora shrugged and said, “Oh, come on! I’m not worried at all! You’re overreacting, the whole world loves sweets! If anyone was to get sick, it definitely won't be me!”
This story highlights that our actions are often influenced by outcomes that please us, because we remain unafraid or unaware of the consequences we may face. We tend to act in thoughtless ways, and by the time it’s too late, only then do we feel regret.
Everyone might fear to disappoint parents, family, teachers, friends, or supervisors. Thinking this way, one chooses to respect them out of the wish not to disappoint them. For example, if a husband is afraid of disappointing his wife, he will be careful to behave in a way that will not cause discord in the family. If a subordinate is afraid of disappointing their boss, they will be conscious of their work ethic and be mindful of the reporting structure, so that the workplace is harmonious and efficient.
There is a saying, “Good looks like a pine, and evil looks like a flower, at first glance the latter may seem lesser; until the day when both are cracked by the frost, then all that is left, is the pine, not the flower.”
This means that though flowers may look beautiful, they do not last. On the other hand, the pine tree still stands firm and strong even in harsh weather. This encourages us to cultivate goodness within, not just striving for outside beauty like the flowers. When we have goodness from within, what we do will bring positive effects that can last a long time.
As said in Buddhist texts, “Bodhisattvas fear causes while sentient beings fear effects.” Bodhisattvas differ from sentient beings in that they understand cause and effect, so they are cautious, from the start, of every action they take. Every bodhisattva knows what they can or cannot do, what they can or cannot eat, what they can or cannot say. In essence, they are cautious of all causes as well as every situation. In contrast, sentient beings do not see cause and effect. We do not fear or realize the consequences, and we often even possess the mentality of “just do it!” Looking at the news, crimes such as murder, kidnapping, fraud, robberies, and so on, are usually committed by people who have not considered the consequences of their actions. Criminals believe they will never be caught, their “luck” will hold out, or if they do get caught, it’s simply fate. They might think, “that won’t happen to me,” or “I’ll never be that unlucky!” But when justice is served, and all their deeds are laid bare, only then do they realize the consequences and feel regret, and what awaits them is prison. One may escape the laws of a country, but the law of cause and effect is inescapable.
In short, if everyone always keeps in mind the law of cause and effect, then no one will dare to break the law or do immoral deeds. With the understanding of cause and effect, one will resist corruption and the temptation of power. With cause and effect, one will learn to master themselves and help to better society.
Just as Venerable Master Hsing Yun says,
“Error cannot defeat reason.
Reason cannot defeat the law.
Law cannot defeat power.
Power cannot defeat the law of cause and effect.”