By Ann Cason
“The clouds pass and the rain does its work, and all individual beings flow into their forms.” I Ching
By the year 2030 if you live in South Korea you can expect to live on average for 91 years. In the United States average length of life is projected to be 83.2. But it is not stated whether that means that people really feeling alive or are like the walking dead. We have good intentions. Have we been successful in furthering our goals? Flowing along with life instead of being stuck.
What is the flow? How can we find and share what is unique to each of us. We set out with a vision of how to proceed. We pack our bags and make our reservations for heaven. Meeting someone in the bar at the airport while waiting for our connection, leads to “Wild anticipation” and then distraction. Before we know it a few years fly by until we notice, “This isn’t where I wanted to go. “ How can we recalibrate our life with our intention?
One thing that helps is to look at life as a grid of stages. Each stage of life from the age of 20 through 100 has its own unique challenges for learning and growth. At the same time obstacles can arise leading to despair and giving up. For instance, when you turn thirty, you might fall in love, marry, have a child, work in a company that furthers environmental issues. Your life is surrounding by a mindfulness and love and you feel like you are in your skin. But then contentment grows into laziness and you sink. Fortunately, you reach 40 and it scares you a little; it wakes you up. You put your car in the garage, get on a bike and venture out becoming more observant, more generous, more disciplined, and more patient. You feel more joy. Your Windhorse circulates, possibilities arise.
Marveling at your good fortune, you forget to share and dedicate the merit to others. You get a little stuck.
Until finally you turn 50. It was a tough transition. Your children left the nest, your work has grown humdrum, your fire for life has weakened. Longing for the wind on your skin and the fearlessness; fear has crept in. Longing leads you forward. You sign up for a workshop.
There is an exercise to help you explore the possibility of death. You have to sit in a chair at the front of the room and give your name, your place of birth then tell the others that you will die. “My name is Ann. I was born in Kansas. I will die.” It is as if you are practicing for the worst thing to happen. But after the worst, you can move on, expand the mind. When that happens, equanimity arises. It is as if the north star had appeared in the sky; you got oriented; the hot air in your balloon swished out leaving you steady in empty space. You meet people, you breath out, on retreat you see and hear and feel. And then you think. “Now I have the hang of life. I am getting greater.” And you freeze into a rut of secret doubt. Is this what I am meant to be? You ask. It is hard when you think you are on the road to freedom to feel your wheels fall into ruts. Now is the time for the perseverance that leads to wisdom.
We may need a ceremony of support to find and stay with the ooompf needed to get past creeping doubt. Have we really made friends with ourself, turned the flower outward, and trusted basic goodness. In the midst of society have we been able to celebrate aloneness. Sometimes we think we are lonely instead of wise. Did we miss it? And what is it? We know and yet we doubt it. Right here, we are in danger of falling into regret. What is needed according to Sakyong Mipham is a chance every 10 years or so to explore where we are, to see where we’ve been and to recalibrate with the larger world of benefit, our good human society. We have to work together, we people of different generations and view.
So please join us for our first adult rites of passage here in the northwest, AWAKENING TO THE STAGES OF LIFE. March 31- April 2. On Sunday afternoon there will a ceremony, a rite of passage along with a pot luck to which we can invite our friends and family for witness and celebration!