Venerable Ones, there is no place of rest in the Three Worlds; it is like a house on fire. This is not a place for you to stay long. The murderous demon of impermanence strikes in a single instant, without choosing between high and low, old and young.
‘The Three Worlds’ which are the World of Desire, the Visible World, and the Invisible World implies the World of Forms, the world of illusions where we sentient beings reside. ‘The Three Worlds’ is also compared to a burning house which is bound to collapse sooner or later. This symbolises our lives that are doomed to end before long. We sentient beings are compared to those who are struggling to stay alive for as long as possible there. ‘The murderous demon of impermanence’ implies ‘collapse of the burning house’ or ‘death’. This is not a place for you to stay long because no one can avoid death which comes to us in a single moment, without previous notice regardless of whether we are old or young, high or low and rich or poor.
The only way to survive the fire is to escape from the house because there is no place of rest as long as we are in the Three Worlds. The purpose of Zen practice is to help people to escape from the Three Worlds, the burning house.
Student: “How can I get out of the burning house?”
Master: “Get out of there quickly.”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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