Why do People Always Alienate Each Other?
This is a good question with self-awareness.
“Alienation” is “a feeling of distance and isolation.” For instance, two apples or a table and a chair are separate objects. Aren’t they alienated? But, unlike human beings, material things do not have feelings.
“Alienation” is relative to “union.” In one’s subconscious, there is a strong desire to be united to everything in the universe.
However, in reality, each of us is an existence bounded by vexations and egotism. Such a bond lets us isolate ourselves from the whole world. When we meet another person who clings to his attachments, we feel an unspoken distance between us, which we call alienation.
Animals may also have feelings of alienation, though perhaps not as much as humans, because they too are sentient beings. Since humans are highly intelligent creatures, the sense of alienation is particularly strong.
This feeling of alienation, in essence, comes not from other people or the world. It is mainly alienated to our identity, the true-self, which is our Buddha-nature.
In talking about the spiritual- and Buddha-nature, we resemble abandoned children. Take an orphan hanging around on the street for example, can he build an intimate relationship with the world around him? He would be scared and helpless. He knows he has parents and a home, but he doesn’t know where. If one day, he finds the way back to his home and his parents, his recognition of this world will be totally different. He would have a family, and would lay down the roots of belonging.
We sentient beings wander in the Saha world, like the lonely orphan straying on the street, inevitably feeling alienated. This is something that no one can solve for us. But people try to solve the alienation by running away from it.
In other words, what we have done in our whole life is to unite the world and everything in it. This is a function of our Buddha-nature, but we have not found the right way to do it.
The orphan, whom we have just spoken of, knows he is an orphan, but he does not know where his home is.
When a person is lost, he knows it, but he does not know the right path. He knows he is alienated and wants to be united but does not know how, so he bumbles around.
People are socially oriented. They like bustling activities, traveling around, looking for entertainment, and indulging in mental excitement. They may get married and have a family, so they no longer live in solitude, no longer in alienation.
However, do these really work? Basically, no. They can only delay or alleviate the feeling of alienation temporarily.
Some people are addicted to their career as an entrepreneur, a researcher, or an artist. Most of all, they worship God or gods and, in all kinds of religions, they find a feeling of unity.
All these efforts have their values to human beings and promote the progress of human civilization. But that is not final. We must go back to the core of our Buddha-nature.
In terms of the Sage path, to vanquish alienation, one must attain complete awakening—“to breathe through the same nostril as buddhas,” as ancient masters would say. That is exceedingly difficult to achieve.
The Pure Land path focuses on reciting “Namo Amituofo.” It is said that “there is no other path outside Buddha recitation; as long as we all recite the Buddha name, we are all Dharma brothers and sisters throughout the universe .” The Land of Ultimate Bliss is our homeland. Amitabha Buddha is our father. Reciting Buddha’s name takes us back to our Buddha-nature.
Hence, Buddha-reciters feel a kinship with each other and even closer affinities with Amitabha Buddha: the intimate, the near, and the augmentative karmic relationships. In contrast, a couple can be strange bedfellows.
That’s it! Namo Amituofo! Thank you.
(Translated by Chih-Yi Gabriela Lin;
edited by the Pure Land School Translation Team)
Faith in, and acceptance of, Amitabha’s deliverance
Single-minded recitation of Amitabha’s name
Aspiration to rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land
Comprehensive deliverance of all sentient beings