Yesterday my at-home #Buddhist #meditation #retreat, week one, contemplating living in a “God Realm,” took some interesting turns due to “regular life.” That’s the beauty and the challenge of having a home retreat: life keeps on happening, and not very far away or able to be ignored. Need to deal with my car, keep connecting with some people, job-hunt and apply, have a job interview (when invited), shop for essentials, tend to chores.
As a writer who is finishing Volume II, This Changes My Family and my Life Forever, and marketing (release date, December 20) Volume I, This Changes Everything of The Spanners Series, I am also writing, marketing, learning about ebook publishing, indie pub networking and methods, editing/revising, weighing in on cover art for Volume I (thanks, #Willowraven!) and learning about this whole ebook process for the first time from Mark Coker of #Smashwords (thanks, Mark). My days and some of my nights are quite full, already. Adding in 3 – 6 hours of meditation each day (sometimes more) is quite a feat. I’m not bragging; just explaining. Something’s gotta give.
So, yesterday, the meditation time “gave” to the car repair and friend times. However, I did walk and meditate/contemplate while my car was being assessed (one hour). During that hour, I walked around downtown Hayward to do errands (bank, library) and then sat in an rarely-used chess-players’ seat at a small city park.
No one else was in the park. In fact, it was officially “closed,” but the walkways were open. I and a dog-walker were the only park users when I was there. I could picture the park on busier days, ghost figures filling the space: the traditional-old-men-playing-chess images, some teens hanging out on the benches, a stroller-pusher or two, a dog-walker or two. But, since it held no other appeals, with no playground, no fountain or pond, no climbing structures, no other places to sit, I ran out of ideas. Besides the two chess stations and two park benches, there were a few patches of grass (well-trimmed), some flowering shrubs, one tree: that was the corner park.
Meditating/contemplating living in a God Realm caused me to look around more closely as I walked and then, sat. I discovered several aspects of this downtown that struck me as relevant. First, there are a lot of abandoned or empty, unmarked buildings and vacant lots among some seemingly open ones or those not due to be opened, yet (it was before 11:30, so many places weren’t open, yet). In this particular moment, one day in 2013 in Hayward, California, I could see evidence of better days.
One large, brick building had odd-shaped and oddly placed spaces high on one wall facing the busiest intersection. I puzzled out that these were vacancies left by large, individual letters which must have been adhering to the brickwork to display the owner’s or business’ name. Gone. But, before that era ended, those people must have been very wealthy to have owned such a large, prominent downtown structure. Most owners live in a God Realm, until they don’t.
They would have had servants and workers under them, surplus income to spend on themselves. They would have indulged themselves and their family members in luxuries and vacations, had most every whim fulfilled. Fancy clothes, fast and expensive cars, jewels, lavish parties, food and beverages, entertainment, sex, exotic pets, travel to beautiful locales, music and art would have filled their lives. Let’s give them good health, love and intelligence, too. A perfect human existence, probably in the latter part of the last century or earlier.
Where are those owners now, if any of them are still even in those human forms? Assisted living or nursing homes? Scattered from Hayward, younger family members out of touch or estranged? Dead already? Where are their money, those luxuries, that business? What happened to their residences, cars, clothes and other possessions, friends and colleagues? Gone to others or just completely gone. Empty. Abandoned, like this building.
Even when “everything is perfect,” it can’t last. Even if the outer pleasures continue, the enjoyers do not. These “Gods” age, get infirm, die; or, die suddenly. But, die they must, taking none of that gilded life with them.
I returned to retrieve my car (can’t be fixed until part arrives. I chose Halloween for my next foray into town, since I have a medical appointment that day, anyway). Driving the short distance home, I contemplated the ephemeral nature of all life and the futility of accumulating wealth, possessions, pleasures and such.
We may be living in a God Realm or not, but what we all share is impermanence. Whatever ways we are enjoying or suffering through our existences, our pleasure or pain is just a moment in the great span of time. Whatever we have, whatever we want: Feel it, live it, then go on to the next moment. That is the merry-go-round of samsara.
Prayers for all beings to recognize the illusory, temporary nature of samsaric existence and to buckle down (or ratchet up) to be on the path to individual liberation. Bodhicitta and gratitude for my path filled my heart as I re-entered my home, my retreat space.