The Buddha's Five RemembrancesI am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.
Talking with a friend recently about the death of someone she knew, I thought of the five remembrances (above). We spend much of our time putting these five things out of our mind. This is the root of all of our grief, the realization that our illusion of permanence is just that, an illusion, a mere fairy tale. I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to come to terms with these five things. This is heavy stuff. You can't just snap your fingers and be OK with it.
Shortly after my long-term relationship ended last fall, I took a workshop with Laura Tyree at the Ojai Yoga Crib. The theme of last year's Crib was the Queen of Hearts "GROW". How appropriate for me. The Crib is always appropriate, always exactly what I need. The universe is an amazing place.
Laura asked me two questions about my break-up: (1) What good has come of it, what have I learned from it? It has deepened my practice, and (2) What do I fear? Loneliness. Then she said, "When you feel that loneliness, turn into it. It is a divine loneliness. We are all seeking God."
Hmmm... I take "God" in a non-denominational way here to mean universality, the interconnectedness of all beings in this universe. And indeed, perhaps this is what we are all seeking. I have been thinking about Laura's words a lot, about how if you sink into the loneliness and stay present in it, you might find what it is that connects all of us. You might find the essence of what it means to be truly alive.
As I am making my way towards the other side of grief, it occurs to me that Thich Nhat Hanh is right (as usual), in his gently humorous way. I love this line: "We should not complain about impermanence, because without impermanence, nothing is possible." Without old age, illness, death, loss and change, nothing is possible. I am trying to sit with this knowledge, over and over. I am considering seeking out the loneliness and dancing with it, just to see what happens.