By JUDY LIEF
woke up this morning, and my sleeping died. I stood up, and my lying
down died. I brushed my teeth, and the toothbrushing came to an end. My
coffee was in the mug, and then it wasn’t. I thought about what I had on
my schedule, and then I thought about something else, and the first
thought was gone. I sat down to meditate, and a feeling of virtue arose.
Then that feeling died and changed to a feeling of restlessness. I
shifted position and then I was still. There was a gap and I
disappeared, but then I noticed my breath. A thought arose—where was I?
And then another—what time is it? I thought—what changes and what stays
the same? I thought—be present now. But now kept slipping into the past.
Then I noticed that the instant it was past, the more solid and gone it
felt. Then I felt some kind of force pushing me in the direction of old
age and death. A thought occurred—what lies ahead? A flurry of
fantasies and possibilities arose as fleeting thoughts. Those thoughts
spontaneously dissolved and there was a gap. Something noticed the gap
and destroyed it. Then I tried to get it back. A memory arose of my
teacher saying, Don’t alter your experience or try to make anything
happen. Then I tried to not try to make anything happen. A strong
feeling arose of—what a joke. It occurred to me that I was fighting
something. I felt frustrated and my shoulders got tight. Then I saw an
opening and I went for it. It was as if the arising and falling and the
noticing what was arising and falling and the struggling with what was
arising and falling collapsed under its own complexity. Then there was a
feeling of stillness and simplicity. But that changed too.
Judy Lief is a Buddhist teacher and the author of Making Friends With Death: A Buddhist Guide to Encountering Mortality.