Based on conversations at the Secular Buddhist Network’s monthly online discussion group, several of the group’s members have formed a new interest group to explore the aging process as a spiritual practice, within a secular Buddhist frame.
To learn more about or join the group, please fill out the form below:
In the Five Remembrances (AN 5.57) the Buddha encouraged everyone to contemplate aging and four other realities of our life daily:
I am of the nature to age.
Aging is unavoidable.
I am of the nature to get ill.
Illness if unavoidable.
I am of the nature to die.
Death is unavoidable.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love
Are of the nature to change.
There is no way to escape being separated from them.
My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot avoid the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground on which I stand.
Most of us would say that we know we are aging and that it is unavoidable. However, how many of us have meditated on this reality or really internalized it on a cellular level? Coming face to face with aging highlights our vulnerability and impermanence; and while responding to this reality speaks to the heart of our practice, it is nonetheless difficult.
At the first meeting of our group on 28 March we had a thoughtful discussion about how the aging process was revealing itself for each of us. Since our Fourfold Task (a la Stephen Batchelor) is aimed at promoting human flourishing, we raised a few questions for subsequent meetings:
- What is flourishing?
- As we ponder our aging process, how do we continue to thrive when things fall apart, internally, or externally?
- Can we embrace aging honestly and directly and still flourish? What is most important to me right now.
- What exactly am I giving priority to in my practice?
The group will evolve as we meet, but the format will likely include sharing personal experiences of aging and how we find support in our practice. We may also decide to focus on a specific aspect of the Buddha’s teaching and work with it through meditation and/or journaling between meetings, sharing our experiences the following month. Since our life is our practice, there are innumerable lines of inquiry to pursue.
We will meet on the last Monday of every month from 12:00-1:30 Eastern Time. As we are all aging, wherever you are in the lifespan, you are welcome!