Here is Iain in Japan, a lay minister within our Order, reflecting on age and what that might mean in practice.
…time really does fly like an arrow. there’s many things I’ve done already and don’t need to do again and also if I’m making a long term plan to do something now perhaps there should be a very good reason to commit that time because even taking an optimistic view it isn’t an infinite commodity is it? There’s the difference. I’m still ‘me’ and yet out of the corner of my eye I can see that in addition to that long list of those one-time ‘to do’ items I can now already cross off the list as impracticable – the Mt. Everest thing, becoming Prime Minister etc. – I ought to be bearing in mind more that the tank is no longer full of petrol. It is somewhere between half full and ‘E’ for empty and who knows just exactly what that gauge is actually reading?
From Little House in the Paddy.
The section of the Shushogi referenced here goes thus:
Time flies quicker than an arrow
And life passes with greater transience than dew.
However skillful you may be,
How can you ever recall a single day of the past?
‘Putting the Teachings into Practice and Showing Gratitude’, Zen Master Dogen
Thanks Iain for your reflections on the event of your turning sixty one.
One thought on “Reflections on Age”
This posting reminds me of the quote in Rules For Meditation:
“…This body is as transient as dew on the grass, life passes as swiftly as a flash of lightning, quickly the body passes away, in a moment life is gone. O sincere trainees, do not doubt the true dragon, do not spend so much time in rubbing only a part of the elephant; look inwards and advance directly along the road that leads to the Mind….”
and (I’m reminded of) the subtle sense of shock when I first heard it/read it and still have when reading it. ‘Shocked’ probably isn’t the right word, but there’s something very to the point about it, and the experience of time, and everything – where has it all gone??!! If it has gone is there anything else but now? Does time exist? Etc.. Scary stuff!
If this awakening to transience is one aspect of Dogen’s teaching, then what is the bit about the ‘true dragon’, and ‘the Mind’ all about? Is it one and the same thing or is there something else here?