stepping stones of truth

A journey along the path of life - the stones can be rough, smooth or even wobbly!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Time passes

Autumn always focuses my mind on the passing of time. I really enjoy reading poetic and lyrical words about the ephemeral wonders of the season, and observing the changes in the hedgerows and woods. How easy it is at this time of year to watch each moment passing with each leaf that falls. It can all be very Zen.

The Japanese particularly appreciate the ephemeral nature of the changing seasons, and are renowned for staring in wonder at an autumn leaf, and getting drunk under ethereal cherry blossoms. I shall enjoy visiting temples and gardens in Kyoto this November, when the maples are in full colour (it was tantalisingly late the last time I went)

One of the three marks of all conditioned phenomena, according to Buddhism, is that of change. Everything is subject to change – the cycle of birth, decay and death – from the shallowest breath to the largest galaxy. Acceptance of this seems to enable the Japanese to appreciate seasonal things; special foods are celebrated for their short time, whereas in the UK we expect strawberries all year round.

The other lunch time, my stroll took me past the local undertakers. There, propped up against the wall obviously ready to go out with the next job, was a small headstone. “Winifred Smith. Home at last.” How sad for poor Winifred. I hoped she hadn’t spent her whole life wishing she were Home i.e. presumably dead or in heaven (Unless of course she was an ex-pat and her mortal remains were returning to Dorset)

How much more efficient and productive of happiness it is to appreciate each moment, and not wish it away – or just suffer being Not Home. It is an effort of will, but we can take each circumstance and look for the best in it. My optimism tries to discover some beauty – just one seed of hope and nurture it and help it bloom. Another step in the circling cycle.


At 7:08 pm, Blogger Tabor said...

Change. Something I pondered while in Italy where the architecture doesn't change and the lifestyle and food are the same. Here in the U.S. we live for change and avoid keeping the old. Yet, we are so non-Zen and Italy is so more Zen.

At 1:29 am, Blogger Kerri said...

How lovely, to look forward to a trip to Japan in November.
Our seasonal changes in this climate certainly indicate in a tangible manner the passage of time.
Optimism is a good state of mind to live with. Life is wonderful if we can appreciate little things in our daily living.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

At 4:43 pm, Blogger Val said...

What a lovely post this is, especially about, if I may paraphrase, looking for the positives of the moment and enjoying it. And it's of course ok to look forward to the trip to Japan too! You will be attuned to the pace of seeing all the beauty around you.

We visited a Japanese garden near San Jose on the weekend. It was not the best example of what a Japanese garden should be but we all enjoyed the peace it engendered in us. A lovely mild autumn day helped too.

Val, I loved getting your comments on my blog, can't reply personally though as I don't have my email addresses with me. But we can still keep in touch via our blogs, even if sporadically.

At 6:02 am, Blogger Zen said...

I felt my my name invoked so had to drop by :-)

well written thoughts Val-san.

Hope you enjoy Nippon next month, a beautiful time of change.

At 5:40 pm, Anonymous susanne said...

Hi Val. Thanks for finding me :-) Your blog is beautiful and I'll be back many times to read your archives. Also, I look forward to your return from Kyoto and the photos and stories you will bring to us. My Buddhist practice is a Japanese one so have a deep affinity for the country.

At 7:30 am, Blogger vishwa said...

Good thoughts val. Something to chew on and reflect :-)

At 6:40 pm, Blogger Sue said...

Hi Val,
Just stopping in to say hello and thanks for visiting me. I had a lovely phone chat today with the "other Val" who is visiting nearby in California!
How wonderful that you have the anticipation of a trip to Japan in Nov.
I'll be back to read more of your delightful posts...

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