Monday, October 19, 2009

Strike One

Death comes to us all, but rarely do we live with that truth on a day to day basis. This was certainly true of me - until this year. Now my eyes can not see the things I once saw with anything like the clarity I was accustomed just three months ago. There is pain in my groin from a recent operation, and a new thought is germinating in my mind: how soon will my aspirations for this life outstrip my capacity to continue reaching towards them?

In a way, it has already begun: I've experienced strike one in the outing of life, and I have a strange new feeling lingering around me like a deserted mountain held in a mist - the real sense of my own mortality. Lama Tsong Karpa, a great Tibetan Saint of 600 years ago, once wrote that those who feared death - when death came, would have no fear. But those who had no fear of death, when death came, would be very afraid. So I can gain solace from that - death hangs around me now. Goodbye to my dear little children, goodbye to the dreams and aspirations of this life - goodbye to my wife, friends, riches and reputation. Just ashes in the wind awaits me one day.

Not that I have a terminal disease or anything like that - just the struggle to read a book, the difficulty to walk at a speed I am accustomed to. Walter Carrington wrote that the most difficult aspect of ageing was that inside one did not feel one had aged, but the outer truth was incongruent with that inner map - and adapting oneself to new expectations, habits and behaviours was a constant task facing the ageing person.

Everyone around me tells me I am going to fast - while inside I feel I am too slow. Jaldhara says I work too much, push myself too hard, while inside I have a feeling of laziness. Incongruities, unreliabilities - where is the truth? What is the way? Others tell me these blows to my health, happening as they did in quick succession, are an indication that my vegetarian diet of 30 years is catching up with me. My iron is too low, and my macrobiotic mates tell me my food is way too yin - I need more yan.

So do I embark on a new research project to collect information about food intake, food theories - to analyse and experiment in the hope of creating a few more lusty thrusts towards my dreams? Or do I re-emphasis my daily meditation practice, take advantage of this new found realisation of death, and use it to remind myself of what really matters in this life, what truly goes with me beyond the grave? All good questions, with time and contemplation. This is the benefit of the realisation of death - one of the most basic realisations to have in the Tibetan Lam Rim Graduated Path to Enlightenment.

Now that's happy framework for this Eeyore gloominess - I am on my way to enlightenment!