Thirty-Two

Good morning, friends.

Today marks 32 years I have existed in this world. I must admit that the continued march of time against me reminds me from time to time of the certainty of aging and death. I’m also reminded of the Pabbatopama Sutta (I didn’t remember the name, but it was easy to look up — it is The Simile of the Mountains).

“What do you think, great king? Suppose a man, trustworthy and reliable, were to come to you from the east and on arrival would say: ‘If it please your majesty, you should know that I come from the east. There I saw a great mountain, as high as the clouds, coming this way, crushing all living beings [in its path]. Do whatever you think should be done.’ Then a second man were to come to you from the west… Then a third man were to come to you from the north… Then a fourth man were to come to you from the south and on arrival would say: ‘If it please your majesty, you should know that I come from the south. There I saw a great mountain, as high as the clouds, coming this way, crushing all living beings. Do whatever you think should be done.’ If, great king, such a great peril should arise, such a terrible destruction of human life — the human state being so hard to obtain — what should be done?”

The mountains come in from all sides and down upon us. “What should be done?” the Buddha asks Pasenadi, to which he replied:

“If, lord, such a great peril should arise, such a terrible destruction of human life — the human state being so hard to obtain — what else should be done but Dhamma-conduct, right conduct, skillful deeds, meritorious deeds?”

I find it amazing that this king, as intoxicated with his own power as he may have been, was such a strong follower of the Buddha. When this was said, the Buddha said to him:

“I inform you, great king, I announce to you, great king: aging and death are rolling in on you. When aging and death are rolling in on you, great king, what should be done?”

King Pasenadi was quick to understand the simile. I hope that each of us is similarly quick to realize.

Like massive boulders,
mountains pressing against the sky,
moving in from all sides,
crushing the four directions,
so aging and death
come rolling over living beings:
noble warriors, brahmans, merchants,
workers, outcastes, & scavengers.
They spare nothing.
They trample everything.

Here elephant troops can hold no ground,
nor can chariots or infantry,
nor can a battle of wits
or wealth win out.

So a wise person,
seeing his own good,
steadfast, secures confidence
in the Buddha, Dhamma, & Sangha.

One who practices the Dhamma
in thought, word, & deed,
receives praise here on earth
and after death rejoices in heaven.

Often we forget that death will catch up to us, and that moment will not be one of our choosing. It will not be convenient, and it can come without warning. We should practice ardently today because we may not see tomorrow.

Be mindful. Be well, friends!

The full (English) text of the quoted sutta may be found here.

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2 comments

  1. Happy Birthday and thank you for the post. Good things to think about.

    1. Thank you also, friend! :)

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