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Impermanence: Journal of the Plague

The great tottering architectonic 21st century tower of Babel that is our faith in “Enlightened” science and progress has been knocked askew by an ancient and recurrent thing—the plague.

In Buddhism, the three marks of all existence and beings are: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness or suffering , and non-self. (Guys and gals, I’m gonna leave it to you to research the “no-self” thing. The first two are pretty understandable even if you ain’t a Buddhist.)

The other day at an outdoor cafe, my breakfast fell off the table to the ground by accident—one small step for clumsy man. Something of the realization of impermanence was forced upon me.

I think and feel that the whole plague of coronavirus is reminding me of the biggest situation of impermanence that is out there intruding into our awareness—it could work out to be one giant step for mankind and womankind. The question is, where will the giant step possibly lead us?

There is a way forward. Asked how the world began, when, and why, Buddha said “I do not answer such questions. I only teach two things: suffering. and the end of suffering.” He does not leave us twisting, slowly, slowly in the wind.    

In the film Little Buddha directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, Siddhartha, having been shocked to realization by observing old age, illness and death, is comforted by his father. “We are all born, and live, and suffer, and die, and are born again. This is the curse of our existence.” Siddhartha responds, “Then I want to lift that curse,” and in his effort to do this he became Buddha, the enlightened one.

Making a huge leap forward, it is my extremely simple and personal understanding that Buddha offered a way to lift the curse of samaraic suffering. He taught mindful breathing as meditation and mindfulness. Thich Nhat Hanh is so eloquent a teacher of meditation. The gist of his teachings is: “I am breathing in. I am breathing out. I breath out distress. I breath in peace and compassion.” When one becomes aware of thinking-mind, say the word “thinking,” and return again to “I am breathing in. I am breathing out. I breath out distress. I breath in peace and compassion. I am smiling to the world.” Do it over and over. This was the lesson that was reinforced for me during a retreat in December 2019 at Southwest Sangha in San Lorenzo, NM  (575-536-9847). Michael Freeman is the teacher in residence.

Kind regards to all…

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