March 31, 2010 § 1 Comment

Sitting with another elderly woman today. She could pass any moment. She has the death rattle, with oral secretions collecting in the back of her throat. Her son is with her now. How fleeting this life is. Don’t waste it.


The Dharma of Dust

March 27, 2010 § 1 Comment

Some days speed by, out of control, like an unmanned locomotive flying through the countryside. Other days crawl painfully slow. And in the middle, there we are, all of us, trying to keep up and trying to slow down all at the same time.

Ever think about the smell of samsara? I know, kind of an “off” question, but I began to think about it while cleaning one day. Then I thought about how peculiar it is that I am always cleaning. The nature of things is to become dirty, to become smelly, to decay, to rot, to become covered with dust. Shirts develop holes. Silver tarnishes. Shoes get scuffed. Yet many of us spend considerable time each day cleaning our bodies of sweat and odors, scrubbing floors clean of muck, wiping dust off of shelves, putting pages in sheet protectors to keep them crisp, buying a new outfit for some social event.

Perhaps you are laughing at me by this point. Please, go ahead, for I had a good laugh at myself as well. I realized that in my life I have spent too much time denying the truth of impermanence, and yet it’s been all around me all this time! I dust today, and tomorrow it’s back! Yet for some reason it caused me to look more deeply at life in general.

A friend of mine told me it sounds rather depressing, that everything decays. But I started to think a little differently about it. Decay? Well, maybe change is a better way of thinking of it. Everything changes. Nothing is static (except maybe our narrow points of view at times). And that’s the beauty of it! I am so happy for the reality of impermanence. The dust can settle tomorrow, but I can wipe it off again. The dust is not the nature of the book shelf; it is only temporarily obscuring it. Likewise, the patterns of confusion polluting my mind are not the nature of my mind. And let me tell you, that is good news.

Impermanence means it is possible for our situations to change in accord with our karma and merit. We don’t have to be stuck. Actually, we’re never truly stuck, as that would infer stasis. Life is always dynamic. That is what makes Enlightenment possible for everyone.

During the month of March, I have witnessed the dying process of several people. The breathing pattern changes, becoming laborious. The rattle in the back of the throat commences as secretions collect. Some developed “the smell” of death, as their bodily systems shut down and tissue begins to necrotize. Sometimes there were hallucinations. Families gathered around some. Others just leaned over in their chair and passed quietly while no one was looking.

I’m not trying to be depressing, gothic, or deep. But honestly, where will I be when my last breath is drawn and then let out, slipping into the arms of death? Will anyone notice?

I hope to be resting in compassion, thinking of my beloved Guru. That’s all. I would be happy with that.

Where Am I?

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