The term “world” is a combination of time and space. Time flies. Past, present and future continue with no end. Everything has its geographical location course. The ten directions of east, west, south, north, southeast, southwest, northeast, northwest, above, below do not shift or impinge on each other.
Viewed from such a perspective, human beings are but a miniscule part of it all. The time they exist is so brief and the space they occupy is so small that they seem to be like leaves that light on the surface of a river and are carried along by the current without being able to exercise any control. But people are stronger than leaves; people have awareness that leaves lack. People can be physically in one place while mentally in another.
Practically speaking, the world is comprised of what we see and touch. However broad our view of the world is, that is how big the world is. For an old woman in a provincial village who never goes out, her concept of the world is
limited to about ten square feet of space contained within the four walls of her home. space The farthest it would extend is to the distant mountains she sees from her front door. She does not know that there are mountains beyond those mountains, waters beyond those waters and many other kinds of scenery. Residents of the cities have a better idea and know that there are other life styles other than theirs. Our world is limited by what we see; what we see is influenced by our minds.
People who are in the same place at the same time will have different perceptions of the same things. This has been verified millions of times. Let take one outstanding example of that phenomenon. After Shakyamuni Buddha realized the Way, one day he was sitting in the wilderness in samadhi. Suddenly a thunderstorm hit and lightning struck a big tree close to where the Buddha was seated, killing a cow that happened to be standing underneath it. The Buddha sat on undisturbed, entirely unmoved by the incident. People in the farm house witnessed the whole scene and were shocked. When the Buddha left his samadhi, they asked him if he had heard the tremendous thunderclap. The Buddha replied that he had heard something like the hum of the insects.
Such a brilliant lightning flash and huge thunderclap would surely startle any ordinary person. But what could it matter to Shakyamuni Buddha who, engrossed in samadhi, could perceive the vastness of the entire universe? Thunderclaps and lightning flashes are just as insignificant as human beings when compared to the entire universe?
How many times have we been disturbed by a mosquito when we were on the verge of falling asleep on a midsummer night? We become so intent on listening for the hum of the mosquito that it seems like the sound of thunder to us. That “thundering sound” soon enrages us and we flail about trying to bat it down. When we fail, we become angry with ourselves. The next morning we blame that tiny mosquito for our lack of sleep and swollen eyes regardless of whether we got bitten or not. When we are asleep even such a small sound of danger can break our tranquility. How frail our world is as we lie prostrate.
Therefore we understand that when people mutually struggle, fight against each other, and fail to find peace, it is because their mental state is deficient. Existing within the limited space their minds, they suffer wounds and bear scars; conflict becomes the norm. Minor incidents create enemies; a little resentment induces high blood pressure and heart disease. Some even commit suicide. Unpleasant words sound louder than thunder and scornful looks strike more fear in us than lightning bolts.
Our parents choose this world for us, but we still can make choices regarding time and space that can decidely effect the quality of our lives.