Saturday, December 3, 2011
Many people worry about very old age because they believe old age involves a lot more aches and pains than earlier in life. My uber-great osteopath/homeopath in San Francisco said, "When you get old, you feel every old injury. They all come back."
Yeah. It isn't an appetizing idea, I agree. But, it isn't just old people who hurt. Infants endure a lot of suffering, too. In particular kicking the digestive system into gear takes many months, sometimes even longer. Babies' stomachs hurt much of the time. They catch every cold, run frighteningly high fevers - surely they must suffer terribly from the pain of all those sore throats, headaches, earaches, stomach aches, etc. I've wondered if they also suffer from growing pains while in utero. They grow so fast in those first 9 months! Wouldn't that hurt? Growing pains are a well-documented part of pre-puberty, as well. That's why fifth and sixth graders can not sit still.
Life on earth is painful at every stage. It's sobering to contemplate. Pema Chodron and many other Buddhists practice a meditation technique in which they breathe in suffering, breathe out relief. It's not magic, it's more like a wish or prayer sent out with every exhale. It's a beautiful, strenuous practice. Given how much physical pain is part of the bargain of life, I'm grateful to all who practice tonglen. Very grateful! Thank you.
Of course life on earth is also beautiful, interesting, funny, unpredictable and complicated, and there are many pleasures included in this existence. So many!
L'chaim, y'all. Shalom.