Saturday, January 24, 2015

This too shall pass--this material life, that is

After days of getting things together for a long and tiring India trip, as I finally head to the airport, I tell myself that it would not matter if I have forgotten anything as long as I have my passport, my wallet, my cellphone, and my travel computer.

During the long plane ride, I often amuse myself thinking how much that list is a metaphor for life itself--most of what we worry about is, well, excess baggage that is not going to affect us, and yet it is on that baggage that we spend our time, money, energy, and emotions.  What if we asked ourselves every morning when we wake up, "what is most important to me in life and how do I want to spend my time, money, energy, and emotions?"

What is even more amazing and amusing to me is how invested--in many ways--we are in all things material.  Our homes. Cars. Computers. Phones. Clothes. Shoes. Even our hair!  When all those are transitory.  Heck, even we are nothing but transients in this universe and we worry about our balding heads?  Imagine, if every morning we were to, instead, draw up a list equivalent to my travel essentials of passport, wallet, cellphone, and computer.  Will my balding head feature on that list?  Not a chance.

The older I get, the more irrelevant many things in life are becoming.  I suppose the experiences in life are like series of filters that continuously remove the unwanted and irrelevant, and help me get to what might be the equivalent of passport, wallet, cellphone, and computer.

Somewhere into the remaining third of my life, the computer will be be off that list.  Gone will be the phone. The wallet will become thinner and thinner as the extraneous stuff gets tossed out.

So, what might be the important things into my future?

I wonder if people ask themselves that question.  I worry that people do not ask themselves that question.  I am concerned that there is not enough attention being paid to that question.

If only all of us got to thinking about this, even via the sand mandalas.  I love how the Buddhist monks remind us about the transitory nature of the material life.  The lamas work for days and weeks and create beautiful and colorful elaborate pieces of art, only to methodically erase them away.

So, what might be the things that I might take along for that ultimate travel of all?

"When you are lying nearing your death, you cannot take your car or house or clothes.  You have only your memories with you when dying" said my accidental travel partner during that day trip in Costa Rica.  And then even those memories are gone.

Yet, we are invested in our homes. Cars. Computers. Phones. Clothes. Shoes. Even our balding heads!

I suppose to struggle through all that crap is what life is all about.  We will be smarter if we understood that all we are doing is constructing our own sand mandalas. And, whether we like it or not, whether we are prepared or not, all that investment over one's life will be gone, like the lamas brushing away the sand.

Nothing really matters at all.

Life is but a fleeting illusion.

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