― Pema Chödrön
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence..."
In the teachings of traditional Buddhism, human existence is said to have three basic characteristics: impermanence, non-self, and suffering. Everything changes. We are not permanent, static, individuated beings, and we will die. It hurts.
Fall puts that
right in our face.
These Precious Days
As a child, I was transfixed the first time I heard "September Song." It touched me deeply. Even then, I got it. I knew. None of us is going to get out of here alive. The inexorable movement of our lives toward the final destination is a given. As Suzuki Roshi once put it, "Life is like stepping onto a boat which is about to sail out to sea and sink."
Now, at age 74, with Frank Sinatra's voice singing in the background (thanks to YouTube,) melodic metaphor meets reality. The truth of the matter is clear. The days really are dwindling down to a precious few.
As I sit here with tears streaming down my face, the neighborhood rooster is crowing in the damp morning air. A couple of crows are relaying the news over the hiss of the traffic outside the window. A solitary cricket sings harmony as this chilly mid-September day unfolds.
Today is simply -- and perfectly--just what it is. It is precious.
Sitting here, breathing in and breathing out, the tears arrive and depart, only to arrive and depart again. Experiencing fully the play of sensations, sights, and sounds that dance within the vast and limitless domain of awareness that resides in my heart of hearts, great gratitude and great grief are one. Within and beyond the profound sadness encountered as I embrace life/death As It Is, there is a deep joy and an incredible beauty. Within and beyond the deep poignancy of our collective "situation," eternity whispers through the deep stillness.
I can live -- and die -- with that.