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Dependent Origination: Aging

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Teacher: Rodney Smith
Date: 2013-11-05
Venue: Seattle Insight Meditation Center



As we move from birth to aging, the sense-of-self is dragged along in time, and we begin to notice the effects of memory and accumulated experiences on consciousness. Aging can create a burdened and heavy toll, but when used correctly this maturation process can culminate in wisdom and help us understand Dependent Origination. Maturation brings perspective and when coupled with dharma practice, it reveals the limitations and struggles inherent in our desires and aversions and begins to free us from many of our youthful oppressive states of mind. It can also slowly season our intention toward moving into the here and now. But aging can also be a time of great protest and bitterness. Our life did not turn out the way we wanted, and we now see only death in front of us.  We must close this bitterness gap quickly, or it will define our later years. If bitterness arises, ask, “In the present what is left unfulfilled? What is left to do?  In the present, how has the past betrayed me?”  Our bitterness cannot enter the present, because the present sees the past and future as thoughts arising in the present. Here then is the final step of our maturation. Do we want to carry ourselves through time and arrive at our death with all the scar tissue time gives us, or do we want to enter the timeless present and leave ourselves behind?


Here is a catch 22: To be governed by aging is to live within the paradigm of separation, but unless you live fully the truth of aging the paradigm of interconnection will remain a conceptual goal. Dharma practice is to completely surrender to the aging process so that there is no one left to age. To see if this is so, ask yourself, “What is aging in this moment?” and then ask, “What is ageless in this moment?” Sense the proximity of aging and the ageless, of time and the timeless. Because we believe we are separate we focus on aging and not the dimension beyond time. We then protest the truth of impermanence. But all forms of protest maintain our separation, and access to the ageless truth arrives when all protests end.


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