Saturday, November 14, 2009

This Fleeting World...

For a wedding present, my cousin Susan went through a box of old photographs of mine, and sent what she thought were the best ones to Scan Cafe, an outfit somewhere in India, where they transfer these old things onto DVD.

Yesterday, I received this gift, and it was an amazing thing to see. Fifty-five years of memories flashed by in the slide show on my laptop. It took so long to live those memories, and so little time to watch them go by. In some of them, I am a little boy, and from that perspective, being my age now might just have well have been an eternity away. From my perspective, now, all those years went by in a few seconds.

Most of the memories were happy ones. Some made me laugh. A couple made me cringe. Some of the people in these photographs are gone now. My eyes welled up more than once, accompanying a wistful smile. The inevitable thought arose that someday, in the not-too-distant future, I will cease to be as well.

Looking at old photographs, seeing myself and my family and friends as we were when young, is a bittersweet experience. It brings into sharp focus just how precious life is in this moment, the only moment we have in which to be alive. And it is the very fact that this existence is impermanent that makes it so precious.

So my Dharma suggestion for today is just to know, even for a few moments, that you are alive. Feel yourself breathe. Feel your heart beating. Look into the eyes of the people you encounter - friends, family, lovers, or strangers - and really be there with them.

There is no tomorrow, only today. There is no there, only here. There is no next, only now.

From the Diamond Sutra:
So I tell you,
Thus shall you think of this fleeting world:
A star at dawn,
A bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, a dream...

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