Lightning Strikes


Share with a Friend

Email to a Friend

Already a member? Log in to share this content.

You must be a Tricycle Community member to use this feature.

1. Join as a Basic Member

Signing up to Tricycle newsletters will enroll you as a free Tricycle Basic Member.You can opt out of our emails at any time from your account screen.

2. Enter Your Message Details

Enter multiple email addresses on separate lines or separate them with commas.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
mhkohen5's picture

this was a great topic. I am a disabled vet who is dealing with being permanently total happy age of 40 years old. I am medically retired from the army. which in itself is a strange thing to say at the age of 40. well I take from this lecture is that everything changes. it's all about perception and coming to a peaceful understanding of were you are at. that finding the joys of every breath brings you to a whole new level in life. thank you so much for this lecture and I look forward to listening to the rest.

flomi's picture

I was at a silent retreat last fall when I was "interrupted" half way through and told that my 90 year old father was not doing well. I left the next morning and arrived in time to sit through his last 36 hours in this part of his journey - in this place. I remember the breathing - both labored and relaxed as he inhaled and exhaled. The timing of these two events - my retreat and his passing really drove the aspects of impermanence and transition home and hit like - lightning. Participating in the event with him and others in my family without fear and within a loving focus on the reality of now vs. the past and the future confirmed for me the focus of what my practice had suggested up until then. This is it - this moment - this breath - this is where the light gets in.

Lewis Richmond's picture

Thank you. Your story is itself a teaching.

biemer22's picture

An awesome beginning of a topic I just discovered is relevant LOL. Looking forward to more!

Lewis Richmond's picture

Hello everyone! Thanks for all your kind comments on this opening day of the retreat. I plan to check in frequently to participate and respond. I'll be back soon!


nancymay37's picture

I sat with my husband last July as he died one breath at a time and since then "Days and nights go hurtling by till our lifetime comes to an end" Therigatha 145 has been my experience. My mother died at 78 and I am now 74 and my mortality is right in my face. I keep thinking not much longer, make the most of it. I am paying more attention to my meditation practice as it seems to be all that is keeping me anchored right now.
I really appreciated doing old age one breath at a time, felt so gentle,
thank you for that experience.


manatee's picture




MarkG's picture

Thank you Lewis for this lovely start to your "retreat" on aging. 25 years ago I had the opportunity to facilitate an "aging group" among 80+ year-old women in a nursing home. One day I asked them to each tell me how old they felt. One woman denied saying an age (most had said 75 or 80, surprisingly) but instead said she felt young. I asked her how old was that? She thought a bit and said, "Oh, I don't know, maybe 50."
What a surprise to me at 45. I was beginning to think I was getting old at that age (silly me).

What I took from that experience was a deeper understanding of just what growing older might mean. From that time on I regularly have adopted a mindful aspect that focuses on being alive and alert and to recognize that I am still only as old as is young. This is increasingly hard as some physical ailments develop (arthritis, an inability to run any more) and some memory problems occur (what was that word? what is that person's name?). And it is difficult because I am encountering friends and family who are seriously ill and who have or are dying.

But still it is amazing to me what this bit of ongoing mindfulness has done for me. It has allowed acceptance of these changes and yet also supports the fun and excitement of the youth that is still within me.

pgcmosher5's picture

This is a beautiful topic. Thank you for your insightful sharing Lewis.
I am now 72 - what you say is so true. My first teacher in the 1970's would say we had to be comfortable with our own death before we could really live. It took me more than 30 years to really grasp that. Then one day lightning struck and I realized I could count the years this body has left, plus or minus a few, barring unforeseen accident or illness. That woke me up a bit. Lightning continues to strike, lighting up the reality ever more, almost daily. Life gets more beautiful day by day - as long as I pay attention.
There is a saying: "Take the risk, grow old". It is deep and lovely. The next phase I am looking forward to as a great adventure....

Peter L. Albrecht's picture

I think "Lightning continues to strike" is very important. My experience - I'm 82 - is that the process of "lighting up" is continuous. At 75 I realized I wasn't able to carry a heavy pack uphill after a day's paddling - the corresponding "illumination" was that I could survive asking for help! And that was liberating. As the breaths and years passed, more things I couldn't do physically - and somehow more freedom in being able to ask for help, or in being able to say "No" - as in "I don't drive at night any more".

Lewis Richmond's picture

I hadn't pictured lightning in this context as a moment of lighting things up, but of course it is, thank you.

Sam Mowe's picture

Hi Lewis,

You were in your 20s when you heard Suzuki Roshi say that we meditate so that we can enjoy our old age. You said that it's taken you a long time to get past the surface of his answer, presumably because you weren't old enough to understand it yet.

I'm currently in my 20s and my question is: are there any shortcuts to the wisdom that comes with aging? I'm guessing the answer is "No," but perhaps there is some advice that you would give a young man who really can't imagine growing old. My attitude now is: I'll deal with it when/if I get there.


Lewis Richmond's picture

Well, actually we are always growing old--one breath at a time, as I say. An awareness of impermanence and the corresponding preciousness of life, cultivated when young, pays enormous dividends as real aging comes. Of course you will deal with it when you get there--none of us have any choice--but actually (and this is true for everyone) you are there now.

bobw's picture

Thank you Lewis. I am 6 weeks into recuperating from back surgery for spinal stenosis, one of those conditions caused by the aging process. My attention has turned lately to the fact that I am no longer young, even though 62 doesn't feel that old, I am aware that I am at a pivotal point in my life. Looking forward to the rest of the retreat. Thanks again.

rhafe's picture

I recently resumed meditation practice at age 64. I felt the need to somehow come to grips with the idea of getting older and dying. Hopefully, as a result, I might also learn to fully live. Thank you for helping me along on my journey.

bwgumm5's picture

The answers I am looking for in the process of completing my life's journey

bmw's picture

I can see my 20 year old self(40 years ago) watching this with a very different take on it. I especially enjoy your anecdotes about your former teachers and how a single phrase can point to the essence of things. Look forward to the rest of the retreat. Thanks.

Zenwu's picture

An interesting topic to 'sit on' but apparently difficult to stay at peace with.

lashamrock's picture

Thanks, Lewis.

I was recently in the hospital for an extended stay, and the practice sustained me. The morning after the operation, the doctor told me that I had died on the table. That definitely gave me an appreciation of how wonderful each breath is, and how grateful I am to the team who worked to give me this extra time.

Attention! Attention! Attention!

In gassho, Dina

cachidlaw's picture

Thanks! A wonderful first class. I will be 67 in less than two weeks (one breath at a time), and am both in love with the process and horrified by it ... the gamut of human emotion on the waves of breath. What is happening to my body undoubtedly has been happening for a long time, but suddenly I am acutely aware of it. The things I could do just a year ago -- so very few breaths ago -- are no longer accessible to me. AND ... my feelings of wisdom, compassion and acceptance have become more accessible. Change. Yes, change.

myers_lloyd's picture

Thank you so much, teacher.
I thought of aging recently- when an old friend underwent a triple bypass-as a samsaric war zone. At first,only faraway noises; gradually they increase and become louder. Beside you, a companion trips and falls. Then your chest-what is that tightening, that pain--
Attention. Attention. Attention--

Lewis Richmond's picture

Ikkyu as "heart" surgeon, in the spiritual sense of heart...