Lightning Strikes


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raymondtovo's picture

what can we say about an older population seeking sexual partners for intimate relationships . I thought the pursuit of sex was more of a younger generational pursuit.
So many here in my community get into computer dating in there 50s to 70s. Is the pursuit of sexual partner at this time a problem for the path of growing older? Should we be less preoccupied with it.? Hoe to reconcile the need for intimacy ant the path. of aging?

drgeysen74's picture

Indeed, thank you, Lewis. I am so glad that I found this ... in my life, I have come back again and again to Buddhist teachings and then strayed completely from thee moorings, buffeted around by the winds of change in my "so busy" life. Now 50, somewhat stymied and confused by midlife, going solo and now living alone, I am daily confronted with taking responsibility for my life and my own sufferings. What a pleasure to be able to create a space for this and to have the generosity and wisdom of Lewis to guide me as I again return to the timeless and profound teachings of Buddhism. Thanks to Lewis and thanks to Tricycle for putting this together.

alifcb25's picture

Lewis, it was in the past 8 months or so that I turned to Zen Buddhism. I have been sitting with a Zen group in my town. I am off to an Introductory Retreat to Zen at the Zen Mountain Monastery in New York State this weekend. I am 62 and I have had some regretful thoughts that I discovered this turn of events so "late" in my life. After hearing your works, I am "walking on air" about the changes my life! Thank you for your inspiring
thoughts and words.

heidifalvarez's picture

I began reading your article on the last day of my brothers life. This was two days ago. He was diagnosed with colon/liver cancer and in 5 weeks of rapid deterioration and suffering he passed. I sat with him the night he died, read this article, and tried to ease some of his mental suffering,in turn easeing my own suffering. The action of helping coupled with sitting in the face of such suffering was my lightning moment. He was 41 and I am younger. The moments during his illness felt so manic yet purposeful and now it feels like nothingness, not empty because of my memories and my own family, just a complete dead stop. I look around and can so easily seperate the things that matter from the in consiquential. My question is, what now?

dhRma4all's picture

Thanks for your wisdom, your perspective, and the retreat. Our local Kalyana Mitta group has used it for our discussion foundation and we have all remarked on its value. We've all found aging to be a source of many blessings and are happy these videos summarize your experiences so well. With gratitude and warm wishes.

mattbard's picture

Hi Lewis, I enjoyed this video on aging and especially your comparison of breathing to the grandfather clock. When my baby sister lost her battle with cancer and I watched her take her very last breath it was such a shock. That is when I realized the miracle of a simple breath. I had just kissed her cheek and told her that she never looked more beautiful. And that was the truth. I started meditating a year ago because I decided I it was time to learn how to die with acceptance and dignity. But also, I want what I see in the eyes demeanor of people like yourself and Joko Beck. Thanks. Virginia (SO)

jjmummert's picture

I'm so glad I took the time to watch the first lesson. A deep bow of gratitude to you, dear teacher. --Jenny

mmallett's picture

Aging, one breath at a time...a wonderful way to experience practice in my life context. Thank you.


Laura438's picture

Thank you for your wisdom. I especially appreciated your interpretation of the breath as a natural clock, the true pendulum for aging. I look forward to future classes and to incorporating this thought and practice into my daily life.

tina_mccoy's picture

One night in September, I woke up with terrible chest pain and gasping for air. I thought I was gonna die. I was scared. I bargained with my Maker - "I'll be good if You let me see tomorrow..." My doctor ran EKG and all kinds of test to detect any signs of heart disease. She found nothing. I felt relief. Later, I was looking at family photographs and saw my current pictures --- I suddenly "see" that I have aged - I will be 65 in August. Reminders of Medicare enrollment and Life insurance are coming in daily... yes, this is reality. Accept it! I am aging - indeed - breath by breath. Yes... "Everything changes, everything is connected, pay attention!" Thank You for sharing your wisdom with us. Looking forward to your next presentation. Palms together. Gassho.

Lewis Richmond's picture

How fortunate that there was nothing seriously wrong. A gift.

susanoleary's picture

Ah, the hubris of youth. That's a great word. Once that hubris is gone, Lightning will Strike. It's wonderful that we can embrace aging as more than just entropy. Thank you for reminding me to enjoying my age and all of it's gifts, challenges and opportunities, one breath at a time. Looking forward to more. Thank you Lewis. Been following you for some time. Always a pleasure.

Dot Luce's picture

I became suddenly ill recently, and could not take a normal breath. (It turned out to be pneumonia), and coincidentally, watched the film, about the horse and dreams, and breath problems for the film maker, (on this site). What struck me was the shaman's explanation, that fear takes away strength. I faced the fear that came with not being able to breathe normally, and fell into, one breath in, one breath out, until I gradually let go the fear.
My practice has given me so many gifts; one is the experience, in tangaryo, of death, another of the wealth of not worrying about money, as many do, as they age. Living at Tassajara trained me to a life of chosen simplicity, which is the easiest way of being wealthy.
I am grateful every day, for every breath, even though I do forget sometimes, and become my simple selfish self.
Thank you Lew, for sharing your heart and life so generously.

Lewis Richmond's picture

Thanks. Great to hear from you.

Lewis Richmond's picture

Remember the 1964 bumper sticker: 26 million americans can't be wrong?

I have a new version of that: 76 million baby boomers can't be wrong (about aging, that is)

davidraybennett's picture

There's a lot of beautiful insight and acceptance in the comments here. Thank you everyone for sharing your moments. I'm 57 and in the past two years have begun to feel the changing of the years in a substantial way, physically and mentally. My lightning strike is the realization when reading about or commenting on "historical events", that they happened in my lifetime!

markkemark's picture

Thank you Lewis, I really appreciate your wisdom!

jlbader's picture

ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ATTENTION! To what is and what is important. I cherish the remembering. Such a important practice. Like you said as we age it becomes ever more important to us and my clarity about making the effort is increasing . Although learning young would be a precious gift. Thank you for your guidance. At almost 61 I have had to start using a sleep apnea machine. A reminder of aging and of breath......

Lewis Richmond's picture

Learning young is sometimes possible for the precocious, but certain lessons can only be learned by the young from the old, I think...

KnowThankYou's picture

Thank you for sharing such insight and wisdom.

iamuami's picture

I am remiinded of the poem by "The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock" by T.S.Elliot which I read approx.20-30 years ago...still my favorite. Now as I approach 70 it seems ever more pertainent/relavent more in a realistic living way than the philosopical-ideations of my "youth". I have the mixed blessing of looking more 45 than 65 when I dye my's difficult to let myself (false self) be myself..I'll let myself be me when I "retire", move to Hawaii, be a different "person" (good lord willin' and the creek don't rise). Well the creek is rising, I'm not as fast/active as I used to be, Those damn plastic bottles are hard to open, etc.etc. As a physician I/we have viewed aging as a "dis-ease",now I am slowly realising/accepting that there is no "cure" for aging although Deeprak Chopra/Andrew Weil seem to have some good advise about living well

...I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

Slowly Gently Accepting...Embracing who I am/have become. Breathing..remembering to breath
Thank you. Thank you all for sharing your strenth, your fears, your wisdom

Lewis Richmond's picture

Many people ave your experience and there is nothing shallow about it. Beauty is deeply human in s human and part of aging with grace is to keep renewing our beauty.

stacie_chandler's picture

Thank you, Lewis. I took wisdom and thought from Lightning Strikes. I am 58 and suddenly realizing that I am close to 60. It was a bit of a jolt when I thought about it. But I think my lightning strike was really several years ago when I realized that I had lost my youthful beauty. Vain as that is, it was hard for me to accept. Yes, I am still beautiful but it isn't the same. I am not shallow but that was my lightning strike and I am still dealing with it.I am also in poor health and that, too, has been difficult to accept. But I am finding my inspire me!

leland61's picture

Thank you Lewis.
At first I thought, "What can this youngster tell me about aging?"
I'm 72, and as time speeds up with every day, fast approaching 73.
I'm so looking forward to the coming sessions.
Aging one breath at a time. YES!
Thank you so much.

Jeremy.Tatman's picture

Thank you.

Lewis Richmond's picture

An interesting question. There are many ways traditionally taught to follow breath. One is to focus on the nose &I the feeling if air in and out. This wd take focus away from throat &I chest. Another way wd take be to focus on a mental thought if in &I out rather than physical sensation.

Breath is energetic as well as physical.


sunita's picture

thank you Lewis
I will try these different ways.
I have always been focussing on the raising and lowering and movements of the chest and abdomen

sunita's picture

thank you Lewis
I will try these different ways.
I have always been focussing on the raising and lowering and movements of the chest and abdomen

sunita's picture

thanks Lewis, this really helps to focus on the "right" thing!
I have a question about the breath! I have a cold with sore throat etc and when I breathe it hurts my throat.
When breath becomes laboured or difficult or painful, how can we do the practice one breath at a time and not focus too much on the physical difficulties of breathing?
I am particularly interested because the dying process often involves breathing difficulties and I think the cold is just a small experience compared to the dying process.

True Sangha Action's picture

My lightening strike came when, after I returned from a one week retreat three years ago, my wifeof forty-two years announced that she was leaving the next day. We were not happy at this point, but I was committed. Although I was filled with grief, anger and worry because I did not know that she had developed a relationship with a man that she had met on an internet game, I also felt great release and peace.

As time has passed, I have realized that my former wife has give me a great gift. At seventy-three years of age I am in reasonably good health, and I have discovered that I'm far more self-reliant than I ever was before. The great teaching that I have received is....Breathe in...Breathe out.....Let go....Begin again.

Richard Fidler's picture

Thanks for your story. My 43 year marriage recently crumbled and I am trying to paint a new life on the blank canvas before me. It is exciting--because I understand I have total freedom to structure my life as I wish. At the same time it is challenging--I have to become friendly with those long hours of aloneness.

Funny how you can become dependent on another person and lose a sense of empowerment. You hand over decision-making to another at a cost: your own sense of being a capable person. Now, planning and making my own meals, furnishing an apartment, deciding what travels I wish to undertake--I feel my life is just beginning--the same as I felt when I completed college many years ago. You do not have to see yourself as a "victim" of a failed marriage, but as a newborn with any number of potentialities ready to become real. It is an exciting time.

dipsydoo01's picture

Richard..I smile as I read your entry. I, too, have experienced the loss of empowerment and then finding it again and embracing the change. As a lifelong educator, I'm wanting to prepare well for the next stage..retirement, so I don't feel a loss. I'm training to be a doula, another teacher role. From experiences similar to yours, I have learned that preparation assists adapting to the change. Breathing in, breathing out gives me patience. The perception of "victim" is no longer there.

Namaste Richard..


Lewis Richmond's picture

Beautiful thank you!

caseyn's picture

Because I grew up in a society where death was not hidden away from children, I don't remember a time when I did not see it as a part of life. There are many awakenings to death in a small community. But, the moment when I became absolutely sure, intellectually and emotionally, that I, myself, was going to die was the day my grand-daughter was born. I attended the birth and the baby was given to me while her mother was being cared for. As I cradled her in my arms, I was suddenly, and joyfully, swept into an absolute awareness that I was going to die. I could see that she, if her life was not cut short, would one day talk about her memories of me as I talk about my memories of my grandmother. I have tried to ensure always that my contact with her, and with all my grandchildren, is positive and loving.

worthmoremusic's picture

Thank you Lewis..... indeed, everything changes. It's all impermanent... With age comes a whole new set of skills; coping... Digging up a deeper level of patience, and compassion. It can be a rude awakening..tough to accept many of the things we used to do we can no longer do..or it is more difficult to do. Strive on with diligence and laughter ! _/\_

kswritingservices's picture

Thank you, Lewis, for this wonderful discussion of aging, one breath at a time!
I too had had cancer, in my 40s,and had to move through a long time of regaining my stamina and health. At that moment I began reading teachings from Thich Nhat Hanh and Pema Chodron, amongst others of many faiths and walks of life. Over the years, I am now in my 60s, I have come to appreciate more and more the dharma teachings on a more physical and spiritual level. My practice slowly deepens and has its ups and downs. When I saw that my life was ephemeral, I began to value each day with a greater sense of appreciation. I don't think that I've truly understood what that has meant until more recently. I now teach a class on aging with our heart and finding our purpose, as we learn more about our sense of spiritual sustenance. Since I began teaching I've found that the idea of spiritual connection is an interesting topic. I encourage looking at this aspect of life--however we each view it-- since I believe that it is the groundwork of our being. I thank you for talking about spiritual practice in such an open way. In general, in my contact with others, I believe that this is a topic unattended by many and feared by some, so finding a place to look at "what's really important," as you say, is fundamental to finding our home, our heart. This was a truly inspiring talk and I thank you for opening up this discussion to others who will benefit from this experience. I'll keep watching with a grateful heart!

Lewis Richmond's picture

It seems that some people here have already discovered "aging one breath at a time." Aside from helping us be realistic and less emotional about the passage of time, breath is a window into the "timeless", i.e. our pure awareness beyond identity and personality. there will be more on this in future talks during the retreat.

smnicc's picture

Thank you so much for the wonderful mental images your words create! Breath like a clock ticking, Time passing through, one breath after the other....
Whatever the chronological age, this is the right time for this retreat!

kcwd50's picture

Thank you for this moving talk. I have been practicing "one breath at a time" for awhile now and find that it does change one's perspective on aging, as on living in general. (At 61, I figure I might have about 1/4 to 1/3 of my life to go.) When my stepmother was dying 7 years ago, we sat around her and breathed with her--her breathing was harsh and labored, while ours was, when I tune into my breath during meditation, I am grateful for this time in which my breathing is easy and unlabored, knowing that there will probably come a time when breathing becomes more difficult before it ceases altogether.

Katherine Weed's picture

I am trying to celebrate my aging. In January I turned 70 and my husband turned 65 a week earlier. We celebrated with a joint birthday party. On our cake I had my name and the inscription "Official Little Old Lady" the other side of the cake had his name and "Official Medicare Recipient". We also had candles for 70 and 65. We thouroughly enjoyed celebrating with our friends. My husband had a heart attack several years ago and I try to consciouly celebrate every day we enjoy together. I look forward to the next installments of the retreat and to reading your book.

williamftyler's picture

I like the part about how time can speed up or slow down with my emotions. It makes me ask myself if I measure time emotionally? And now I can experience the rhythm of the breath itself independently of what else is happening. Time seems so different when I sit alone (15min) seems equivalent to being with a group (45min).

samphrone's picture

Thank You.

littenberg's picture

i'm reading the commentary before listening to the retreat... what wisdom abounds! i'm everywhere, in everyone-----amazing. i'm a 67 and 3/4` year old woman (May 4th:), and i'm just beginning to see and feel that i'm "old."
i've been side-lined in the great Sport - Life, but for a moment, only. i'm going to live the hell out of this life when i recover from breaking my wrist chasing my 16 month old granddaughter, who had run down the oily lane at her big brother's 4th "Bowling Birthday Party." As soon as the cast is off, i'm going bowling! Lucky thing: i'm right-handed and broke my left hand!
Breathing my way into old age? i don't know what to do........... All so scary, so typical, so neglected.
i look forward to learning what you all have and are learning... I hope reading and participating in this retreat
will increase my willingness to "sit" for more than 10 minutes! Thanking you in advance,

beatrice's picture

Thank you. I liked hearing the attention story again. i needed the reminder.
i look forward to more wisdom. your delivery is wonderfully calm and made me relax and be open.

david pagano's picture

Lewis nice to see you active on tricycle again . I am enjoying your book and look forward to being challenged by concepts like "aging one breath at a time ". Never thought to look at aging in that way . Thank you David

Lewis Richmond's picture

Thanks for being a part of the discussion!

Pscent4's picture

Thank you for your talk on aging. I'm 75 and was struck by your Lightning Strikes discussion. It helped me to realize that there are many lightning strike in aging. As my years increase, so do the lightning strikes.
Today my new electric can opener failed to open a tin of salmon. I tried to use my old hand opener but my
wrist was too weak. I was struck with the awareness that some day I would need live-in help. Yes, breathe in, breathe out and rejoice in the present. Life Is good!

Lewis Richmond's picture

My wife has a bit of arthritis and has difficulty sometimes opening jars. I'm a pianist with quite strong fingers so I do it easily. Each time I do it I think, if I were not here one day how would she open the jar? It's always a poignant moment--a little strike, as you say.

Peter L. Albrecht's picture

Oh, yes, this is the awareness that I find the saddest - one morning there will be only one head on the pillows, no one to bring morning tea to. Sometimes this fact seems unbearable - and it doesn't seem to matter who I imagine dying first. It become bearable only, I believe, because there is still time, with this breath, to say "I love you", or "Isn't it great, to be working in the garden together", or doesn't matter what words as long as they're loving.

Laura438's picture

Thank you, Peter, for your comment and for this practice with your partner.