The Problem With Desire

shopping

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Desire Blocks Happiness”

The teaching that the Buddhas have given us is that the cornerstone of our religion is generosity and giving. Celebrating Christmas as a cultural holiday could be a time when we Buddhists could practice the most important meat and bones part of our religion. We could be really generous. But it doesn’t seem to happen. It’s just become too materialistic. I think that that is a perfect example of some of the problems that we have as sentient beings.

As sentient beings we have this mistaken idea that we can satisfy ourselves through very gross materialistic means. And we can’t even see through the falsity of that idea. We can’t really understand how it is that we’re fooling ourselves, that we’re duping ourselves; and we never seem to understand why in the end we are never completely satisfied. Do we? We never really understand what has fallen through. Why is it that we‘re never happy? And why is it that we’re never completely satisfied? Or if we are happy, why does it not last? Why is that so? I think about the strange mental configurations that we can get into. It’s really odd. Depending on what kind of person you are, each one of us will express this mental configuration in a different way.

Here are some of the ways that I can think of just off the top of my head. Let’s say, for instance, that we’re eating some food. Well, you know, you might eat something that is very rich and meaty; and then after that you have to have something that’s very light and sparkly to cleanse your mouth. After eating something rich and spicy, then you have to have something sweet and mellow. And then you think that if you’ve had something salty, you must have something very liquidy and smooth to drink. And it goes back and forth and back and forth; and you must constantly build on what you have given yourself to complete the experience. Have you ever noticed that that’s true? Have you ever noticed that if you were to eat, for instance, some meat at a meal, then after that you would have to have something sweet? Or if you ate something salty, then after that you would have to have something cool and refreshing? And that if you ate something cool and refreshing, then you would have to have something salty? And it’s an endless cycle of things that you have to do that is based one on top of the other. It’s almost like a reactive phenomena that is circular and cycled, almost, in its shape.

Then let’s say that we go to the store and we see a dress that we absolutely must have. It’s a ‘must have.’  It’s a beautiful dress. It’s a beautiful dress. We try it on, and it fits us perfectly. Or if we’re a man, it’s a beautiful suit, and it fits us perfectly. I can relate more to the women’s dressing aspect. But anyway, if it’s a dress, well, you have to have the perfect shoes. And of course, if you have to have the perfect shoes, then you must have the perfect hose. And of course, if you have the perfect hose, then you must have nice underwear to go under it. And of course, if that’s the case, you must figure out exactly how to do your hair properly to make it just right for that dress. And then, what are the accessories that you are going to use? Well, the only earrings that you’ve found that are just perfect are going to cost you about $150.00. Ahhhh… So in order to make that practical, you have to buy another dress that they go with. Two dresses for a $150.00 pair of earrings? Nope. That skirt and that blouse would make it practical. They would make it worthwhile. But then, for each one of them, you have to have shoes and hose. Pretty soon it gets awfully darn complicated, doesn’t it? And you find that it never ends. Because every time you put a piece together, there has to be another piece.

Or with relationships. You always think, ‘Well if I could just find that perfect relationship, I could be happy.’ Then you find a relationship, and you talk yourself into believing that it’s perfect. Maybe it seems perfect at first. And then suddenly there comes that first, horrible day when you notice there’s a flaw.. You try not to think about it, but it’s really there. You try not to think about it, but it’s creeping up on you; and pretty soon you notice that it’s not perfect. And the moment that it’s not perfect, you fall through the cracks again, don’t you? Because little by little, that lack of perfection is going to build up. And if your mind is not stable, pretty soon it won’t be the one. And if it’s not the one, pretty soon you’re on the track again, looking, looking, looking.

It’s always like that. It’s always like that. It can happen with material objects. It can happen with relationships. It can happen with ways that you spend your day. It can happen with jobs. It can happen with ideas. And the thing that we always come out understanding is that nothing is perfect. We’re never completely content. There is no perfect relationship. None.  There is no perfect object. None. There is no perfect circumstance. None. There is no perfect idea. None. Because each idea, each object, each relationship, can only be perceived by us according to the karmic patterns and habitual tendencies of our mind.  We will create the kinds of relationships in our mind that are our habit to create according to our karma. And we will not even be able to register those that are inconsistent with the karmic cause and effect relationships within our minds, with the habitual tendencies that are within our minds. We will not even be able to cook up a relationship that isn’t part of the habitual tendency of your mind. Of our minds. That’s why they’re all alike. That’s why, even though some relationships seem different, and some people seem different, our friends and our experiences within the context of relationships eventually all have a certain common denominator. They have a common denominator in some regard. They are the same. They leave us in the same way; they affect us in the same way. And it’s due to the fact that we cannot even perceive a relationship that is not part of the habitual tendency of our mind. That is what we are doing. We are looking in the mirror and seeing the habitual tendency of our mind. And it’s the same way with any object that we have ever owned. They all have a certain common denominator. They all excite us for a period of time, and then they leave us. They either get old, or they break down, or they’re no longer in fashion, or whatever it is that happens.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

The Ticking Clock

feast

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Why We Suffer”

The next piece of information that you really have to take in is that not only are you responsible for being where you are now, and not only are you responsible for what’s going to happen next, but you don’t have much time. This precious human rebirth goes by as quickly as a waterfall falling down rocks. Depending on how old you are, you’ll know that. You partially know that already. I’m forty-one and I think to myself constantly how it was only yesterday that I was eighteen, nineteen, twenty.  Only yesterday. In my mind I feel like a child; I’m not fully grown yet. I feel like I’m not grown up, not mature yet. And I’m halfway through this bugger. Now that’s true of all of us; and some of us are further along than others. We don’t have much time. It’s going by very quickly. If you don’t take a hold of this opportunity now, you will not be able to utilize it.

Please understand that you are deeply involved in a habitual reactive process. The mind is tight, and it is tightly ingrained in its compulsive habitual tendencies. That you will be able to take advantage of one small moment of spaciousness, that you will be able to really absorb the nectar and really able to use it, according to the teachings, is really as unlikely as a sea turtle surfacing in a great ocean and coming up through a round circle that is afloat on the ocean. How rare is that? So please do what you can to make this opportunity as auspicious as possible. Please accept the fact that even though you’re hearing the teachings, and you’re hearing them as well as you can, you’re only hearing a little bit of them. The mind is hard. Soften the mind. Go for the nectar of the teaching that leads to enlightenment as though you were a starving and thirsty being on a desert where there is no other water to be found. Generate that thirst. Generate that thirst as though your throat were parched, as though there were nothing else. And then aim truly. Try not to make up your own religion. Actually, we’ve been doing that for eons and eons in cyclic existence. We have been making up the religion of self. This is the religion of ego. We have a religion, it’s true. Time to convert. Now we need to follow the method that leads to enlightenment, not the one that leads to further self-absorption and more suffering. Remember that all the experiences that you’ve had are phenomena; that they are direct displays of your own habitual tendency, and, therefore, as meaningless, really; that the meaningful truth about you is the most glorious truth and the one that you keep forgetting. In your nature, you are the Buddha; and it is possible to awaken, and therefore to be free from cyclic death and rebirth and from samsaric suffering. It is possible. But it will not happen without great effort. And it will not happen if you don’t begin now.

So please do utilize the opportunity. Do utilize the teaching. If you go away from this and you change in some way… And, of course, the idea is to change. If you didn’t want to change, you probably wouldn’t be here. If you go away from this and change in some way, change sufficiently to where the mind becomes more relaxed, the heart becomes more receptive… If these things begin to happen and you actually begin to practice, begin to make wishing prayers, begin to make kindness the cornerstone, the backbone, of your incarnation, of your life, then this day has been worth something. But if you just wanted to sample the wares here, your mind probably is like a bowl turned over and the nectar, once again, has escaped you. Please take a hold of yourself. Please utilize this precious human rebirth. Please understand the nature of cyclic existence and its faults. And please understand the beautiful and bountiful feast that awaits you upon awakening.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo all rights reserved

Waking Up From the Deep Slumber of Ignorance

The following is a prayer from the Bodhisattva Vow Ceremony as translated in the Nam Cho Daily Practice Book from Palyul Ling International:

Alas! Fortunate ones!

Do not let ignorance overwhelm you.

Wake up now and be diligent.

Since beginningless time to this very moment

You have been sleeping in ignorance. Enough!

Now sleep no more and devote your three doors to the practice of Dharma.

Don’t you understand the suffering of birth, old age, sickness and death?

No moment of what is called “today” is permanent.

Now the time has arrived to practice diligently.

This is the moment to accomplish permanent happiness.

And not the moment to fritter away in the state of laziness.

Contemplate death and strive to accomplish your practice.

Life is uncertain, as the causes and conditions for death are innumerable.

If you do not attain the confident state of fearlessness in this very life,

Then what is the use of being alive?

All phenomena are selfless, empty by nature and free of elaboration.

They are like magical illusions, mirages, dreams, reflections, the cities of Ghandarvas, echoes,

Reflections of the moon in water, bubbles, optical illusions and manifested illusions.

By these ten known examples of the illusoriness of phenomena,

Understand all worldly and transcendental phenomena as these.

Thus sang the wisdom dakinis who then dissolve into space with sharp whistling sounds. By being mindful of the meaning and importance, generate awareness and determination to wake up immediately from the slumber if ignorance.

Turning the Mind

The following is respectfully quoted from “Reborn in the West” by Vicki Mackenzie, recounting the life of Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

After she felt she could go no further with this particular meditation she prayed for guidance on what to do next. She had another dream which told her to examine all the probabilities that could come out of her life.

‘I use to imagine all these white picket fence scenarios–the typical Western dream,’ she continued. ‘I did these meditations where I would suppose my husband and I were always happy–like in the commercials where you run laughing towards each other through the wheat fields. And my son would grow up to be doctor–he’d be wealthy and loving. And I would have other sons and daughters and they would grow up to be successful and happy too. Then I asked myself: supposing I attained every material dream a woman could have in America, then what?

‘I meditated on that. It was turning the mind. I saw that these things, these dreams and hopes were pointless. Where did it lead? After all this, you die. I began to see that there was no future in these kind of endeavors. Even if I were to be totally happy in the world and invested all my time and money in it, there was ultimately no point. I might get the admiration of my peers, and all the riches I could dream of, then I would die. Then what?’

What she was describing was the basic Buddhist meditation on death and impermanence that I myself had done in Kopan back in 1976.

‘I remember meditating on this, holding my son in my arms and thinking how I wanted to protect this little being and feeling I would do anything for him. I remember thinking “I absolutely commit myself to making you safe.” And then I realized in my meditation that I couldn’t make that commitment. If my son were to become terribly ill and die there would be nothing I could do about it. I couldn’t follow him into the after-death experience. I realized I was lying to my baby,’ she said.

This relentless scrutiny of her life, the various ways it could go and the inevitable outcome in death was to have a critical impact on her life. From then on she turned her back on worldly pursuits. In Buddhist terms she had achieved renunciation–the lack of fascination with the ups and downs, the dramas and the joys, of mundane existence. It is said that only when you achieve renunciation do you truly step on to the spiritual path, because only then do you stop believing that following the goals of material existence is the way to happiness.

And Yet We Still Ignore It

The following is respectfully quoted from “What Makes You Not Buddhist” by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche:

Two thousand five-hundred thirty-eight years after Siddhartha walked out the palace door–at the time of year when many millions of people are celebrating, making merry, and anticipating a fresh start, the time to remember God for some, the time to take advantage of discount sales for others–a catastrophic tsunami shook the world. Even the most coldhearted of us gasped in horror. As the story unfolded on television, some of us wished that Orson Wells would interrupt to announce that it was all fabrication, or that Spiderman would sweep down to save the day.

There is no doubt that Prince Siddhartha’s heart would have broken to see the tsunami victims washed ashore. But his heart would have been even more broken by the fact that we were taken by surprise, proof of our constant denial of impermanence. This planet is made of volatile magma. Every land mass–Australia, Taiwan, the Americas–is like dew, about to drop from the grass. Yet construction of skyscrapers and tunnels never stops. Our insatiable deforestation for the sake of disposable chopsticks and junk mail only invites impermanence to act more quickly. It should not surprise us to see signs of the end of any given phenomenon, but we are very difficult to convince.

Yet even after a devastating reminder like the tsunami, the death and devastation will soon be camouflaged and forgotten. Luxurious resorts will be erected on the very spot where families came to identify the corpses of their loved ones. The people of the world will continue to be caught up in compounding and fabricating reality with hopes of achieving long-lasting happiness. Wishing for “happily ever after” is nothing more than a desire for permanence in disguise. Fabricating concepts such as “eternal love,” “everlasting happiness,” and “salvation” generates more evidence of impermanence. Our intention and the result are at odds. We intend to establish ourselves and our world, but we forget that the corrosion begins as soon as creation begins. What we aim for is not decay, but what we do leads directly to decay.

At the very least, Buddha advised, we must try to keep the concept of impermanence in mind and not knowingly conceal it. By maintaining our awareness of assembled phenomena, we become of aware of interdependence. Recognizing interdependence, we recognize impermanence. And when we remember that things are impermanent, we are less likely to be enslaved by assumptions, rigid beliefs (both religious and secular), value systems, or blind faith. Such awareness prevents us from getting caught up in all kinds of personal, political, and relationship dramas. We begin to know that things are not entirely under our control and never will be, so there is no expectation for things to go according to our hopes and fears. There is no one to blame when things go wrong because there are countless causes and conditions to blame. We can direct this awareness from the farthest regions of our imaginations to subatomic levels. Even atoms cannot be trusted.

 

Impermanence: From “Treasury of Precious Qualities” by Jigme Lingpa

The following is respectfully quoted from “Treasury of Precious Qualities” by Jigme Lingpa, with commentary by Longchen Yeshe Dorje and Kangyur Rinpoche, as translated by Padmakara Translation Group:

Impermanence

1. The stable world with all its moving occupants is said to last a kalpa.
Which, by its nature, has four ages: forming, dwelling, ruin and the void.
It is disparaged with the name of Basis of Decay,
For it will be assailed by seven conflagrations and one flood.
2. The teachers of gods and humankind perceive our trust in permanence
And therefore, though they have supreme and adamantine forms,
Relax their hold on indestructibility
And joyfully display their passing into peace.

3. Those perfect in samadhi may sustain great spans of life,
But all to no avail, they must endure mortality.
Brahma, Shiva, Ishvara and all the Chakravartins
Find no way to flee the demon Lord of Death.

4. For those who flock so carefree in the wholesome vales of higher realms,
The hunter lies in wait, his weapon in his hand,
Conspiring how to rob them of their lives.
He thinks and thinks of it and has no other thoughts.

5. Tormented by the summer’s heat, beings with pleasure
In the clear light of the autumn moon.
They do not think, and it does not alarm them
That a hundred of their days has passed away.

6. A powerful bowman’s shaft is swift indeed,
But not as swift as pretas moving on the earth.
The pretas in the air are swifter still,
And swifter yet the gods of sun and moon.
But swiftest of them all is human life.

7. The prime of youth is ravaged and brought low by age.
Disease disturbs health’s equlibrium
And perfect situations are all ruined by decay.
So soon does death lay siege to life!

8. Defeated in their struggle with the Lord of Death,
Beings plunge protectorless and friendless down in the abyss.
The glow of life is dimmed; the senses fail;
And doctors with their cures all turn away.

9. Then comes feeble twitching of exhausted limbs,
The failing breath that rattles in the throat,
The family and friends who stand around and grieve
And pray their useless prayers that death might be delayed.

10. The movement of breath, now fine as horse’s hair,
Is severed by the sharp ax of the Deadly Lord.
All beauty now departs; the grin of death appears;
And karma brings the bardo’s deep, black night.

Hearty Exhortation toward the Practice

This is respectfully quoted from “Drops of Nectar: Collection of Spiritual Advice from Great Tibetan Masters” Rigdzod Editorial Committee Ngagyur Nyingma Institute, Namdroling 2004

Chapter V

Again, at this very time, seeing the essential nonexistence, I sang this song of diligence in solitary practice.

Ignorance is as vast as the sky and
The might of grasping and fixation is extremely dark,
As the affliction of unknowing is beginingless and endless,
Confused one, I now offer you this counsel!

Today, in this life, though you are pursuing the path of liberation,
You are not diligent in your practice, and are still distracted by entertainment and diversions.
What is the use of the activities of this life, mere illusory appearances?
Today, I urge you to the practice of the essential meaning!

The joy and happiness of this life are just like phenomena in dreams.
None will be of any benefit and must definitely be abandoned when you depart.
Leaving behind your food and wealth, what will you do?
Today, I urge you to the practice of the profound truth of Dharma!

Although meetings end in partings, like visitors to a market place,
One by one, various kinds of friends and companions tie us up.
What is the use of having many people around you?
Today, I urge you to practice truth constantly.

Wondrous renown and praise is like a dream.
This delusion beguiles ordinary people and their conceptualizing grows.
What’s the use of the esteem and respect of others?
Today, I urge you to practice the essential luminosity!

Any activity of this present life, whatever it may be,
Such deeds are all meaningless and the cause of suffering.
As activities are delusory, what use are they to you?
Today, I urge you to practice the truth of nothing to be done!

Leaving all that is close to you, at the time of departure, you will go alone.
Your various activities, whatever they were, will not help you in the slightest.
The phenomena of this life, what use will it be to you?
I urge you to practice what will benefit during the great going forth.

Whoever is near, whatever you possess, as much as there is,
Nothing except your virtue and negativity will follow after you
So what’s the use of your friends and relatives, your possessions and wealth?
All that is born will die, so I urge you to practice the sublime view of dharma.

In the outer world there are many objects of bliss and happiness
But however, great the experiences of mental and physical joy and pleasure,
At the time of death what use will they be to you?
I urge you to gain confidence in what will help when body and consciousness separate!

Note fearful when sick, nor regretful when dying,
The profound essential meaning of Dharma frees one from remorse at the moment of death.
In the space of the nature of reality of one familiar with self-cognizant awareness,
I urge you to achieve the stability of the true natural state!

You are not free because of constantly being born again and again in samsara.
So, today, here in this life, by capturing the throne of reality itself
In the primordial space-like sphere of unchanging Dharmakaya,
I urge you to achieve the level of the Dharmakaya of self-cognizant awareness!

These are suggestions from my heart, so listen with respect!
Practice diligently in solitude and the attainments will arise!
Nurture the state of awareness and confidence will be born!
This is condensed oral instruction of the key point of the profound meaning!

As my mind was disheartened by distraction,
In order to encourage myself to practice tranquility in solitude,
These stages of instructions as advice for myself,
Are also offered to the ears of the fortunate ones who have come!

May their virtue fill my peaceful mind
With the vast wealth of qualities of profound treasure!
And may the four precious doors of the gathering place of oceans of Dakinis,
The hidden land, be open!

From the Vajra Song of Instruction for Rousing Myself, this completes the fifth chapter of urging wholehearted practice. The “Vajra Song of Instructions for Rousing Myself,” was sung by the great yogi of the Mahayana teachings, Longchen Rabjam, at the slope of Gangri Thodkar, known as Orgyen Dzang, the excellent abode of Buddha Samantabhadra, which is glorified by the crystal reflection of the moon. Shubam!

Why Practice Dharma?

An excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Stabilizing the Mind”

Do you really understand why you are practicing Buddhism?

Ultimately, when you come to understand what the Buddha and all the great lamas have taught, you will come to understand that it basically boils down to the fact that all sentient beings are suffering, that desire is the cause of suffering, that there is an end to suffering, and that end is enlightenment.  There are different ways that you can attain enlightenment, but they all have to do with ending attachment and desire in the mindstream.  They have to do with realizing that one’s nature is not the same as the conceptual proliferations that we live with, the desire that we live with, and the ego that we perceive as ourselves.  I really think that once you understand enough so that you can look at your life – with all its emotional highs and lows – and realize that it is impermanent, that you’re just riding on your own concepts and that by doing that you can’t make your mind stable enough to break free of the compulsion to revolve in cyclic existence for eons and eons that awareness becomes the taskmaster.  That realization becomes the teacher.

If you don’t realize that circumstances are impermanent, if you’re practicing because you have some crazy idea that you’re going to be a great being some day or that you’re going to triumph in the end, and that it’s all about self and self-cherishing, if you have some romantic notion about ordination or about practicing at all, you won’t be stable in your practice.  Understanding the teachings about impermanence is the stabilizer, the real teacher.  Understanding from the depth of your heart that desire really is the cause of suffering is the taskmaster.  Looking at your mind in some stable way so that you can understand that the mind just floats helplessly, constantly, on its own concepts, whichever way the concepts go, up or down, and that these concepts are the cause for suffering and that there’s no lasting happiness in them, gives you a firm foundation.  It is then that you understand why you practice, and although the circumstances of your life may change, you will never turn away from practice.  You may go to work or you may stay home; you may have children or you may not; you may take robes or you may not. Whatever the circumstances are of your life, as long as you know these things, you will remain firm.  Your infatuation with the culture, with the music, with the color, with the ritual of Tibetan Buddhism will never be enough.  You have to understand the heart of the Buddha’s teaching.  You have to understand the value of compassion.  You have to understand how important it is to end suffering and what the means are to end suffering in order to stay with the Dharma, in order to be stable and safe in the Dharma.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Contemplating Impermanence

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Western Chod”

I tried to think to myself: So this life, what is it? What could it be like?  I thought, “What is the best case scenario.” You know, this whole scene that I have right here?  What’s the best way this could work out?  I really played with this a little bit. (See “Best Case Scenario”)

I thought about what are the probable scenarios that will actually happen. Then I had to be more realistic and I really looked at my life. I didn’t fall out of love with it or anything. I just really examined it, in as dispassionate a way as I could. I also examined what the potential pitfalls are. I understood that you can eat health food, exercise all the time, sleep 10 hours per day, no matter what, and put yourself in a bubble where there are no chemicals in your environment,.You can do anything you want to, and no matter what, you are still going to experience the same end result and it’s still going to be samsara that we are caught in.

You cannot guarantee that even if you do all those things, the minute you step out into the street a truck’s not going to hit you. You can’t guarantee that. That’s why I understood that even though many things about this life appear stable, in fact they are not stable. So I prepared myself for that kind of understanding in that way. I would do that kind of contemplation everyday.

 Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Best Case Scenario

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Western Chod”

I began to think, “This nature, this is something, this is really something.” So the practice that I engaged in (and this is how I was instructed to do so) was a practice of initially realizing the nature and then examining the cycle of death and rebirth, or what I now understand is called samsara. So I examined the cycle of death and rebirth. And even that term I didn’t have—cycle of death and rebirth. You have to understand I hadn’t heard any of these words before. So I was penning my own words to this idea or concept or reality that I was sensing and the concept that I was thinking about. So I began to think out what is this life that we are living then?  This is this absolute nature. What is this life we are living now where we remain kind of blind to this nature?  I began to really probe this life and tried to see: What is the best thing this life can give me or give anyone and what’s the worst? I began to examine all the different scenarios associated with ordinary life.

At that time I was living on a beautiful farm in North Carolina and I was 20, so I would have to say that I was a potentially aging hippy girl. I was living on this farm and I had the idea of going to back to the land. I was growing food. I was learning how to grow a garden. At the time I thought that I was so cool with that and so sophisticated. Later I found out that the farmers around us really thought that we were going to starve to death if we were any dumber. But, anyway, we were doing our best, and I learned how to can beans and all that stuff. So I had this wonderful thing going on. I was living at the foot of the mountains. I could walk out on my porch and see the mountains. I had a beautiful little baby boy, beautiful blonde hair. He looked like an angel. I had a wonderful husband and everything was just great.

I tried to think to myself: So this life, what is it? What could it be like?  I thought, “What is the best case scenario.” You know, this whole scene that I have right here?  What’s the best way this could work out?  I really played with this a little bit.

I thought, okay, first of all, this is my initial demand: I never get old. No aging happens here. In my fantasy, these things weren’t going to happen, and when I am queen, they won’t. So I really thought that I am not going to age. This is the first thing: Nobody ages in this. We don’t age or, at least, I personally find the secret of how to use Este Lauder products perfectly, this secret which I am ever questing. I find the way to use them perfectly and finally she comes out with that new product, the one that I am waiting for, the one that makes everything better.

The same thing with my husband. There’s the male version of Este Lauder. We put it on him and he is great, too. My child does grow up, but, of course, he never ages either. Of course, my  child grows up to be president or maybe first a doctor and then president. At his inauguration speech and, as well as when he receives his medical degree, at both of those occasions, he says, “It was my mom that made it possible.”  Of course, I still look very young, and, of course, I am much more beautiful than I have ever been in my life.

So far this is working out pretty well, don’t you think?  My husband and I never get into that place in marriage where you wake up next to each other and go “Hi”, ummm. We never got to that point. In this fantasy, it was always like those old Breck shampoo commercials. Every time we’d see each other we’d come bounding across the room and jump 10 feet into each other’s arms and land on our feet comfortably. It would all be very elegant. It would be choreographed perfectly, and we would both know our parts. I have a lot of romance in me, you see.

So after that we always had really good food to eat and everything is perfect. We live well—two cars and a chicken in every pot, or whatever, and all this kind of stuff. So everything is perfect. Then I thought to myself, “All this happens. Then what is the end of the story?”  Well, the end of the story is just like the end of any other story that you can find in the human realm. No matter what Este Lauder does, we are going to get old because time is going to pass. She had not figured out the chemistry of time yet. So time’s going to pass. The end is going to be the same. We are going to be old. We’re going to, at some point, get sick and then we are going to die. I began to meditate on the fact that whatever comes together in samsara has to separate. That’s just the nature of it; it’s never been otherwise. Whatever is born, dies. Whatever is young, gets old. It’s the nature of it.

I meditated on that constantly. Then I would try all these other different scenarios. I tried to develop five or six best case scenarios and I gave myself total freedom. Well, suppose none of this here in front of me works out but, supposing the ultimate man of every woman’s dream rides up on a white horse and that horse does not do-do in the lawn, which white horses are likely to do. So all of that happens and the whole children thing works out where everybody’s rich and everybody’s happy, everybody’s famous or whatever. Well, in my case, it would be private not famous, but that would be the best case scenario.

With all of them, I thought of what it could be like. Every time I explored it, I found that the end result was always the same. It was always old age, sickness and death. The best ones, even if I had one of those funds where you prepare for your old age and even if it’s just prosperous and wonderful right up until the very end—I’d take up golf and die with a gold club in my hand, or something like that, whatever —it’s still going to end up the same way.

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