Do Not Squander Your Life

Let me respectfully remind you,

Life and death are of supreme importance

Time passes swiftly by and opportunity is lost

Each of us should strive to awaken…Awaken

Take heed, do not squander your life

Yesterday morning I noticed I was short of breath.  It was just an annoyance, something I have learned to live with when cold weather comes to the mountains.  But in the afternoon when I took my walk in the woods the annoyance transformed into something stronger.  By the time I reached home I was wheezing.  After another hour had passed each breath required effort.  I used the medicine I have for these situations but it failed to give any relief.  As I expended more energy the muscles of my back and chest went past aching and began to tire.  Almost all of my mind was focused on the process of respiration so only a detached little thought rattled around in the background noticing my body approach a point of physical crisis.   Then, slowly, the crisis passed.  After a few hours I could breath without effort and I surrendered to the exhaustion that swept over my body and slept.

The most common meditative practice involves focusing the mind on the breath.  Personally, I have always found the practice interesting because it leads to so much.  Early in my practice I was urged to regard each inhalation and exhalation as my last.  In such a contemplation it is easy to experience what a treasure it is to breathe.  Every breath is all that separates our bodies from death.  Each is delicious and meant to be savored.

Contemplate how we all live in a layer of atmosphere only a few miles thick.  Compare that distance with that to our nearest neighbor, the moon.  Then reach out to the distances to other planets, stars and so on.  Appreciate how all life exists on a razor’s edge.  Consider how precious is the life that surrounds you.  Permit yourself to be amazed not only that you are alive, but also at the rare capacities you possess as a human being.

Then you can appreciate the supreme importance of using every moment of the life you have to seek understanding, to do what is right, and to always respect and nurture the life that surrounds you.  In this there is abiding peace and happiness.  And there is no room for anger, no time for foolish attachments, no tolerance of ignorance.  Especially when the next breath will be your last.

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Daichi

Daichi is my Dharma name, given to me when I made a formal commitment to follow the path of the Buddha. It is Japanese for Great Earth.

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