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6/27/2021 Seek and Draw Close to God ~Rev. Bernie Chung

The origin of Buddhism can be traced back to its founder, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni). It was said that once upon a time a prophet predicted that Gautama would become the greatest ruler in human history and find a way to save all mankind. The prophet added that if he sees four types of people: old people, sick people, dead people, and monks, he will give up his secular life. In order to dispel this prophecy, Siddhartha’s father, King of Shakya, built a palace for him. Leaving nothing to chance, the king ordered the elderly, the sick, the dead, and monks to be banned anywhere near the palace. Siddhartha grew up in the palace insulated and free from external worldly influences. He was made a crown prince when he was fifteen. When he was sixteen, he was saddened by the sight of birds pecking and eating ants. It was the first time he encountered mortality. At age seventeen he got married and his wife gave birth to a son. One day when he was riding a horse in the park around the palace, he saw a man covered with sores, an old and frail man, a corpse about to be buried, and a monk who was begging for food. He found that life is fleeing and sad. That night he began to think and recall the calm expression on the face of the begging monk. He began to wonder that there must be more to life than the luxury of the palace. That same night he glanced at his sleeping wife and son for the last time and left the palace.

Determined to solve the mystery of life, the 29-year-old Siddhartha Gautama shaved his head, put on a yellow robe, and wandered the country as a beggar. At first he tried to learn from famous teachers, but he couldn't find any satisfaction from what he had studied. He tried to seek salvation through self-denial by fasting to the point that he looked like a walking skeleton. But still, he could not find any happiness.

Six years had passed. One day Siddhartha sat under a tree for 40 days and nights seeking salvation. He claimed to have suddenly enlightened and experienced the highest level of consciousness called wratmi. He said he had formulated his own ideas about the universe, life, birth, aging, sickness and death. A Buddha is the highest rank of Buddhists. Siddhartha was revered as Buddha because he was “enlightened” and has reached the stage of nirvana. Asserting that he has attained the consciousness of wratmi, the so-called fire of desire within him will be put out. Pain can no longer exist.

We know that life experiences of birth, old age, sickness, and death are inevitable. David had faced the same dilemma in his life. The fire of desire cannot be completely wiped out as Shakyamuni said, so David wrote in Psalm 27:4 (NIV84) saying: “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” Whenever people encounter difficulties, they should do their upmost to seek Jehovah first, rather than rush to find solutions and peace by himself. Seeking God first was David’s goal throughout his life. Because whoever seeks and draws close to God, God will also draw close to him and grant him peace. Whenever our eyes are gazing only “on the beauty of the Lord,” God will allow us to be at peace and “will be confident” in spite of our difficulties (v. 3). Brothers and Sisters, even for those of us who have been born again and saved, we still have to seek the Lord and draw close to Him all our lives because the Lord alone is our salvation and our light. Amen!

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