"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about calming your mind and opening your heart enough to engage Life directly, to be more fully Present in a kind, clear, and helpful way."

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call! Musings on Life and Practice by a Long-time Student of Meditation.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Times They Are A-Changing

“One of my favorite subjects of contemplation is this question: “Since death is certain, but the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing?””
― Pema Chödrön

"I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence..."
–– David Bowie, "Changes"

I never really was a David Bowie fan, but as I sat down to the computer to begin this week's post, strains of "Ch-ch-ch-ch changes..." started running through my brain.  I even surfed over to YouTube and played it a few times, then brought up a copy of the lyrics.  "Ch-ch-ch ch changes. Turn and face the strain." Changes, indeed. Buddha in drag! (After all, Buddhanature is Universal, right? )

Although yesterday's sultry sizzler of an afternoon and last night's dazzling display of lightning, thunder, hail, and torrential rain seemed like a quintessential summer day, fall began whispering in our ear this past week.  My housemate Michael noticed it on the northwest breeze one relatively warm afternoon, enough to comment on it in the kitchen.  The next night the National Weather Service warned of scattered frost. "Ch-ch-ch changes..."

The fall has always been my favorite time of year.   But it's not just the multi-colored majesty of the foliage and cooler temperatures that bring its music to the top of the charts.  I wish it were that easy. 

Spring is easy to love. After the starkness of a New England winter, the world begins to explode with new life.  With warm breezes teasing us and daffodils poking their way through the snow, the irrepressible growth and greenery sings of "Ch-ch-ch changes" full of delight. Fall, on the other hand, modulates the whole world into a minor key as leaves burst into color--to then die and cascade to form burial mounds on the forest floor.

In the teachings of traditional Buddhism, human existence is said to have three basic characteristics: impermanence, non-self, and suffering.  These three Signs are said to be the inescapable fabric of our being.  Everything changes. We all die.  It hurts.  Fall puts that right in our face.
 
(Continued)


As a young child, I was transfixed the first time I heard "September Song".  I think, even then, I got it.  The inexorable movement of our lives toward the final destination was a given.  As Suzuki Roshi once said, "Life is like stepping onto a boat which is about to sail out to sea and sink."  Now, at age 67,  the days really are dwindling down to a precious few--and fall is in the air.

So,  as I sit here with tears streaming down my face, a rooster is crowing in the damp morning air.  A couple of crows are relaying the neighborhood news over the hiss of traffic in the distance and the crickets are singing in harmony as this mid-September day unfolds.   It is simply--and perfectly--just what it is.  Experienced fully, within and beyond the profound sadness of letting go to embrace Life/Death as It Is, there is an incredible beauty, a vast and limitless domain of awareness that silently sings in our heart of hearts in every moment.  Within and beyond the deep poignancy of our "situation", Eternity dances through the Stillness.

At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it--or not!



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