Originally posted as “Everything Ends” at Buddhist in Nebraska on January 23, 2010.
Our bodies bring us joy and pain in equal measure. An aching back gives way to relaxing heat that almost burns, pain and pleasure together. Muscles strain to lower a tired body carefully into a warm bath. Slowly calm seeps in with the heat until the most joyful sensation is a single cool drop of water falling from one eyebrow, dripping onto a cheek just beginning to sweat.
John Mayer follows Train follows The Fray follows Nina Simone follows Micheal Bublé. The smells of juniper and grapefruit mingle with the smell of whiskey. Long limbs glow golden in soft candlelight. Pale moonlight shines through the window. Every sense is satisfied, even the mind for these short minutes. All the stresses, cares, fears, insecurities, and pains of the day are washed away.
But don’t be deceived. This is samsara. Everything changes. This pleasure is as transitory as the pain that preceded it, in the endless turning of the wheel. Tomorrow I’ll wake up slow and sluggish. By midday my back will ache whether I will it to or no. And by night’s end I’ll long for the comfort of the hot bath I left twenty-four hours ago. Want followed by want.
Savor these pleasures while you have them, but savor the suffering, too. Without the suffering no will toward renunciation exists. We will never be free from samsara if not for the will to end suffering and the knowledge that suffering can end and the way set forth and followed.
Follow the way. Read the Dharma. Practice! And remember that eventually all things change and everything ends. It is our choice whether we allow it to begin again or awake to freedom.