We had a more Dharma oriented evening yesterday at the Old Post, beautifully lead by Padmapriya. For me the meditation was about accepting the impermanence of all things and that in the birth of a new job also lies also it’s end which too will lead to new beginnings. Can we think of all the things in our live as just points along an undulating wave and, whilst on a surface level they may pull our emotions, at a deeper level let they are all just points on the road we travel.
This leads me onto the thoughts I wanted to share with you. We opened last night with the Three-fold Puja, which explains what the objects are around shrines and I’d like to highlight this verse about impermanence.
Reverencing the Buddha, we offer flowers –
Flowers that today are fresh and sweetly blooming,
Flowers that tomorrow are faded and fallen.
Our bodies too, like flowers, will pass away.
Between going to Croydon Triratna Buddhist Centre and watching all the Back to the Future films again with my eight year old son, I have found myself contemplating the only real truth – that of impermanence. With futurologists suggesting we could combat ageing within a lifetime, could this a good or bad thing for myself and our species?
Would I want to live forever? I started by asking would I have wanted to have lived for ever. Maybe a stint in the 1st world war trenches or witnessing the fear of the bubonic plague. If consumption doesn’t somehow miraculously stop then we have a few things coming our way in the next hundred or so but say we get through that the final days or our sun are not going to be a fun place to be either.
This sparked an office in our company where we make mindfulness apps about how human behaviour would change if we could stop the ageing process. Currently if you die you might lose 100 years but what if it was 1,000,000 years. How would that dictate the risks people take. Would people then stop travelling in vehicles but would people also lack motivation as life loses any sense of urgency, purpose and meaning.
And how would life itself respond to a species cheating the rules. If we don’t die then we can’t continue to reproduce. If we stop evolve genetically then it might not take our virus and bacterial colleagues to come up with something to wipe us out.
But having said all of that, the advances described in a book recommended to me by a colleague called Transcend may allow us to extend our lifetimes to travel the universe on a comet and colonise other parts of the universe. This seems to me what mother earth has been trying to achieve before we came along and started to destroy it…. or is it trying to destroy us.
Whatever your views on global warming and ever lasting life, I am very grateful to be alive at a moment in history where we have met our basic human needs and can make a choice to devote time to appreciating life instead of struggling to survive. And as both myself and my wife were excited about new opportunities yesterday, last nights practice evening reminded me that whilst I am understandably excited by these new chapters, I should remove my rose tinted glasses that can lead to delusion and suffering. For in every birth lies death and that is the biggest truth there is.
Sadhu and much Metta for World Kindness Day yesterday.