Today I Buried my Parents

Today I buried my parents.  They died quite a number of years ago, and since then I have been moving the urns with their ashes around my property, finally settling them next to a pine in a corner of my garden, side by side, just as they slept for over 50 years.  But the future has reached out to me, and it has become time to put them behind me, to let go of this particular remnant of their presence. 

Yesterday a friend offered to let me bury them on her property. 

Today I buried them in the countryside. I offered incense and wished them peace.  Kayla offered this prayer for each of them in turn.

In the silence
Hear me
Hear the wind
In the sway of the trees

In the silence
Smell me
Blowing in the wind
The scent of the forest in the air

In the silence
Feel me
As your feet stand my ground
We are connected as one

Be still in the silence


Our friend had used a backhoe to dig the common grave, and I took a shovel to fill it in.  It is rare that a son gets to do this work, and it was satisfying.  I visualized their spirits settling into this spot in the valley, surrounded by barns, cottonwood trees, fields and, in the immediate distance, pine covered mountains.  Elk, deer and bear pass through this place. Few of us can be sure where our ashes will come to rest, and neither Mom or Dad could have imagined coming to rest here.  But really, they are fortunate to have such a fine vista.


Aging with Humor and Beauty

It is good to keep a sense of humor as we go through our transitions from fall to winter.


And also to keep an eye open for the beauty in the seasons of life.




A Now Which is Outside of Time

Today in my World Religions course I introduced students to Buddhism by showing them portions of Bertolucci's movie Little Buddha.  I remembered of course that it was the seeing of old age, sickness and death that set Siddhartha forth on his quest for enlightenment.  But sometimes the truth of our transitoriness strikes more deeply than others.  For a long time I have been considering my own death, and viewing my time through death's lens. As the days and months pass this truth seems more and more salient.  What do I want to be doing with my final years (or hours)?  Can I just sit comfortably with the truth that I have avoided in so many ways: work, entertainment, exercise, wine?

Each morning I practice Guru Yoga.  When my teacher Locho Rinpoche was alive that meant reaching out to him from my heart-mind and touching his; connecting until we merged.  Really that was a telepathy of sorts. In October he died.  I still practice Guru Yoga, but now when I reach out and touch him, what am I touching?  The materially embodied Rinpoche that exists in the past or disembodied Rinpoche that exists in the present?  I am not sure.  Perhaps both. I've asked .......

The question is of huge importance.  In the course of giving us a Guhyasamaja initiation he once said that when he was enlightened we would all be in his circle of disciples. Sometimes I can feel myself sitting in that circle. Am I touching him in the future?  



Or are all of these wrapped up in a single now which is outside of time?




Why Blog?

As I prepare to retire from my "day job" and step into my truly elder years I face the usual questions of what to do?, where to live?, how to get on?  And as a Buddhist, I face some others that some of my friends may not be asking, such as how to fulfill my obligations to my ancestors who have passed along so much to me?  How do I pass these gifts forward? As a teacher, writer -- and now -- photographer, some obvious options present themselves. But these options are fraught with the dangers of narcissism and self absorption. Yet to do, say or show nothing also seems irresponsible to the future.

So, inspired by some old friends who have gone down this path, I've decided to try blogging.  Perhaps as an early sign of narcissism, however, I immediately began to wonder how to present myself.  Would I post a banner on my blog?  What image would I use?  My first good photo came to mind, but I immediately began to wonder, do I really consider myself a rusty old truck?  Perhaps as this blog evolves I'll find out!