Maybe I have seen you, friend, but you will not have seen me. Incorporeal, my body is invisible to you. If you were to try to touch my body, your hand would pass right through, as if through thin air. But I am here in this cursed ghostly realm, tormented by endless hunger and thirst, forever seeking what you take for granted and enjoy every day, food and drink. Oh for a drink of water, oh to be able to taste again!
This is a strange realm, close to yours but yet so agonizingly far for us. Sometimes I can smell the aromas that issue from food being prepared, and my mind goes wild with hunger. But when I reach the place, there is nothing but dust for me to eat. Sometimes I see a river of fresh, clear water in the distance, and joyfully I run towards it. But when I reach it, there is nothing but a dry river bed, and I weep bitterly. I am so so thirsty, it consumes my heart and mind constantly.
Sometimes I watch you, human beings, I see you in your happiness and sadness, passing the days and nights in work and leisure as though they will never end. Every time the sun rises and sets, there ends yet another day for you, but mostly you do not notice, you do not pay attention. How few of you realize how precious is this gift you now possess, this precious human birth you enjoy! Most of you waste your lives seeking pleasure, arguing, bickering over trivialities, trying hard to lord it over this life. You do not see what is approaching, you think the days will just roll on and on, that you have plenty of time. I used to think like that too. In my thirst to acquire material possessions, I did not consider that I would be leaving them all behind one day, every single one of them. I did not share what I had even with my family members, I did not cultivate the virtue of giving, of generosity, for which I now suffer what feels like endless torment of hunger and thirst. Oh for just one day in the human realm! Just one day as a human being! How I would strive to improve myself, how much good I could do in that one day! Yet most of you waste these precious days as though they were inconsequential.
A monk saw me once. He looked upon me with compassion in his eyes, then went on his way. I followed him until I reached the gate of his monastery, but I could go no further. As I wept tears, which seemed to form a bitter pool at my feet, I prayed for just one day in the human realm...just one precious day to make the causes for future happiness. If you have such a day, my friend, do not waste it!
Then the Blessed One, picking up a tiny bit of dust with the tip of his fingernail, said to the monk, "There isn't even this much form...feeling...
perception...fabrications...consciousness that is constant, lasting, eternal, not subject to change, that will stay just as it is as long as eternity."