I was flying to Maui recently, to do a three week juice fast and healing retreat. On the nerd-bird from Boston to San Francisco, I met a hard-drinking overweight business exec type who’d gone to MIT and now works for Dell Computer Company in Austin. He asked what I was doing, and I told him, much to his shock and surprise. “Why would you do that?” he exclaimed. “I am a Christian, and we put our stock in the next world, after we die. Our body is dust. It doesn’t matter how long we live here, but how we live.”
I was glad to hear of his beliefs. In a way, I couldn’t agree more. How we live here and now makes all the difference. But as a Buddhist, I’m not necessarily other-world and heaven-oriented, as if our mortal coil is nothing and immaterial spirit is all– as if temporal existence is nothing and eternity is all.
Tibetan Buddhists consider this body a temple, and each energy and chakra in the body like a Buddhafield full of archangels and deities. How we care for, maintain and develop it helps determine how many beings can benefit by the light that temple provides and radiates.
Human life is precious, rare, hard to achieve and maintain with all the faculties intact; and should be cherished rather than squandered or destroyed. Conscious human life is rare and not to be taken lightly, and spiritually awakened life is rarer still.
When I was younger, I never thought much about longevity, although Eastern tradition abounds with tales of immortal saints and sages Taoist, Hindu and Buddhist. Tantric Buddhism has its own plethora of healing and longevity empowerments and practices, yogic fasts, mineral pills, herbal tonics and vitality enhancers, energy exercises and so on.
Now I see that, as a Bodhisattva with significant training and a lot of work to do, it is important to me to maintain this vehicle and continue ferrying beings to the other shore of nirvana, and not to give in to whatever bad habits my family and societal conditioning have helped me and many of my mates to fall prey to. This, my blessed life, is simply far too rare and precious: an opportunity to make a difference, make a contribution, and be of service and helpful to others.
Above all things I want to be useful and to make the world a better, more beautiful place– to be a light in this world. Fortunately for me, I have found a way of life and a vocation, and beliefs and understandings and spiritual practices and guides that have come together in bringing me what I have always been looking for. I am content. I cannot ask for or imagine wanting or needing more.
I wish that for you too.