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Daily Connect: The Intoxication with Youth Entirely Dropping Away

I've been thinking about aging a lot recently. I don't mean growing elderly (though of course that is a period of aging unlike any other). From the perspective of Buddhist teachings, aging is any period of life change, any period where you are whispered and beckoned by the ghosts of absence, where the past feels more cluttered, and maybe richer than present or future prospects. In the words of the Buddha (below), I am experiencing "the intoxication with youth entirely dropping away." What comes to replace this intoxication? Perhaps just a harmful nostalgia. Or maybe the exquisite palette of the present moment's "nobody home" quality of emptiness. Or maybe I just end up hanging out with ghosts a while longer, wishing I was as young and free as the guy to my left.




Jon Rubinstein sent me this great article from Huffington Post "Is Death the End" about what else, the subjective (and illusory?) nature of time. Check it out.

And here's a great quote from the original gangster about aging.

"Even though I was endowed with such fortune, such total refinement, the thought occurred to me: 'When an untaught, run-of-the-mill person, himself subject to aging, not beyond aging, sees another who is aged, he is horrified, humiliated, & disgusted, oblivious to himself that he too is subject to aging, not beyond aging. If I — who am subject to aging, not beyond aging — were to be horrified, humiliated, & disgusted on seeing another person who is aged, that would not be fitting for me.' As I noticed this, the [typical] young person's intoxication with youth entirely dropped away."

Shakyamuni Buddha
-Sukhamala Sutta

(Photo From emptygatezen.com)

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i don't look back fondly...

i don't look back fondly... to me youth was filled with anxiety and racing around and confusion. i feel like age brings a calming down which does let you be in the present. So ironic, because in the scope of your life, you have less time left, really... but i feel like age has brought a better understanding of how to inhabit time more skillfully. Not racing, lost in memory or plans or both, so much more becomes possible. time is such an illusion... attention makes it expand, stretch out from within, while inattention collapses it and even vaporizes it.

i have seen in some older people a Presence that is really rare in the young ... maybe you have met people like that, who just seem so completely Here. Settled into their bodies, even as their bodies are no longer youthful. Thoughtful and elegant in speech and movement, utterly authentic... they, of all people, seem to me "free."
but i love the term "intoxication of youth" - what a perfect way to describe it.

The Dancing Wu Li Masters

Ethan, if you liked that article about physics and time, you'd probably really enjoy Gary Zukav's best seller about the relationship between physics and Eastern thought, The Dancing Wu Li Masters. This book ranks in my top ten favorite books of all time because it drastically altered my perception of reality. I was 25 years old when I'd read it. I'm 46 now and still feel affected by the revelations in the book. You'd probably also like that movie with Sam Waterson and Liv Ulman, MindWalk.

for me....

the intoxication with youth, on my experience, is replaced with contentment with what's happening now; delighting in things as they are. sometimes those things are "youthful," sometimes they're not, but it doesn't really matter.

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