Eternal Sunshine of the Aging Mind
We are hiking in the Riley Ranch Preserve and meet an old acquaintance with a friend and relish the joy of reconnecting. As we catch up on things, the conversation steers toward our scars. I notice this happens more often as we age. When we share recent histories, they inevitably involve the aging process, or more precisely, the things that happen to us as we survive to a certain age.
Tarn, myself, our friend, and her friend, discuss the scars and bumps, surgeries and bruises, various brushes against our mortality, and laughter erupts. We are still upright and taking nutrition, as they say. We have survived and learned to accept impermanence in a very visceral way. Aging bodies tend to offer this teaching on a daily basis. Still, something of eternal youthfulness remains undisturbed by the vagaries of the human body.
This is the agelessness of pure awareness. Whatever our karma as a body, the essence of mind remains unaffected. Relative memories may start to fade, but the radiance of our original nature never diminishes. This is what death teaches us. When we are no longer identified as a body with a limited mind, the abiding radiance displays as a burst of light. This light has always been there, but we may not recognize it until our meditation practices ripens.
It is possible to perceive the radiance of the wisdom mind in any moment, but our habits of mind act like a curtain shielding us from the light. Our practice gives us the tools to part the veil, but living our life is the best of all practices. As we age, old habits erode in the realization they are of little value, especially when we are lying on the roadside waiting for an ambulance after a severe accident. This I know from experience.
My teachers always suggested the biggest challenges in our lives are the best indicators of the efficacy of our meditation. These events are also the best times to practice. When we are out of our comfort zone, pummeled by gravity, or suffer a great loss, we have the opportunity to experience the unfiltered primary clear light of awareness. As our useless patterns go offline, the eternal sunshine of our original mind becomes obvious—if we have the serenity to see it.