Aging

Impermanence is a powerful–and ultimately liberating–teaching on nonattachment
  • Tricycle Community 30 comments

    A Life Too Long Paid Member

    On an autumn day in 2007, while I was visiting from northern California, my mother made a request I dreaded and longed to fulfill. She’d just poured me a cup of tea from her Japanese teapot; beyond the kitchen window, two cardinals splashed in her birdbath in the weak Connecticut sunlight. Her white hair was gathered at the nape of her neck, and her voice was low. She put a hand on my arm. “Please help me get your father’s pacemaker turned off,” she said. I met her eyes, and my heart knocked.  More »
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    The Examined Life Paid Member

    I address you now not as your professor, but as Seido, Rinzai Zen monk, caretaker of Hokoku-An Zendo. The semester has come to an end. When I look out at you I see 30 people. When you look at me you see one. But for each one of you I am a different professor. There are 30 different versions of me standing before you in this classroom. It is my job to create a relationship of sorts with each and every one of you. I do that by reading your journals and your papers, by observing how you are in class, whether or not you come prepared, whether or not you take notes, how often you text, and how often you nod off. I’m like Santa Claus. I see you when you’re sleeping and I know when you’re awake; I know when you’re taking notes and when you’re checking your Facebook page. More »
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    So the Darkness Shall Be the Light Paid Member

    The thing that most made my internship at a preeminent Harvard community hospital seem like a descent into what Buddhists call the hungry ghost realm was coming face to face with the limits in our modern medical approach to the natural process of aging and dying. A disturbing experience with a dying patient one night when I was on call left an indelible impression that will forever remind me of those limits. More »
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    Aging Into Dying and Death Paid Member

    Buddhist writer Larry Rosenberg maintains that “we’re not really afraid of dying—we’re afraid of the idea of dying.” The discussion of ideas about dying has become quite fashionable—though they are not usually recognized as anymore than ideas. The Tibetan Book of the Dead and its famous variant, Sogyal Rinpoche’s Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, have become bestsellers. At any public meeting on Buddhism you can be sure of at least one question about rebirth. In meditative inquiry it is important to distinguish between ideas and personal experience. Buddhist ideas about death are an expression of the experience of highly evolved yogins, raised in or living in traditional, spiritually saturated cultures. Such ideas can sustain faith. They are also valuable in that they may contain specific meditation and visualization instructions, which, in gifted and advanced practitioners, can lead to altered states of consciousness. More »
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    Leaving the Lotus Position Paid Member

    I sit in a chair. Yes, of course, but I mean I sit zazen in a chair. This is a recent development, arising no doubt from a karmic web of causes and conditions, but the primary one is osteoarthritis in my knees.Everybody knows that a Zen student truly dedicated to the Way sits cross-legged on the floor. Buddha was sitting cross-legged when he was enlightened under the pipal tree 2,600 years ago, and there are millions of Buddha statues to prove it— sitting cross-legged on altars and bookshelves all over the world. Several of them are in my house. More »
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    Awake and Demented Paid Member

    DEMENTIA. “What's that word?” my mother asked my sister the other day, when the nurse accidentally left her chart in plain sight. “Oh, that's the name of the doctor,” my sister said. “Doctor Dementia.”' Whew, another quick save—maybe. My mother never did like the hard facts straight up, and ever since we received her diagnosis three years ago, we've had to practice the spur-of-the moment dodge, the ingenious distraction, the white lie.... More »