Taken from Story #7 in the book titled “Good? Bad? Who Knows?” by Ajahn Brahm.
The death of a loved one changes our life forever. Even the death of those we don’t know, such as the thousands who die in natural disasters, alters the way we think. Death is a fact of life and, when understood, teaches us how to care.
Many years ago in Thailand, my teacher, Ajahn Chah, raised his ceramic mug.
“See this!” he told us, “It has got a crack in it.”
I looked closely at the cup but could see no crack.
“The crack is invisible now”, Ajahn Chah continued, “but it is there. One day someone will drop this mug and the crack will appear and split my cup apart. That is its destiny.”
“But if my mug was made out of plastic”, explained my teacher, “then it would have no such destiny and no invisible crack. You could drop it, knock it or even kick it, and it would not break. You could be heedless because it was unbreakable. But because my cup is fragile, for that reason you must care for it.”
“In the same way,” Ajahn Chah began to emphasise, “your body has a crack in it. The crack is invisible right now, but it is there. It is called your future death. One day there will be an accident, a disease or old age, then the crack will appear and you will die. That is your destiny.”
“But if your life lasts forever,” Ajahn Chah concluded, “if your life were unbreakable like a plastic mug, then you could be heedless. So it is precisely because our lives are fragile, because it is our destiny to die, that is the reason why we must care.”
Understanding that relationships are also fragile like a ceramic mug is why we must care for each other. Comprehending that happiness has a crack in it teaches us never to take joy for granted. Realising that our life will one day break apart is why each moment is so precious.
This is a simple concept that I believe most of us agree with, but how easy it is to forget! So let’s keep reminding each other and let’s start living our life as if each moment is our last, cause it could be.