My teacher, brother Chan Huy, advises us to start the morning with this gatha:
Waking up this morning I smile
24 brand new hours before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment,
and look at beings with eyes of compassion.
and to end our day with this gatha:
The day has now ended, our lives are shorter.
Now we look carefully, what have we done?
Noble Sangha, with all of our heart,
Let us be diligent, engaging in the practice.
Let us live deeply, free from our afflictions,
Aware of impermanence,
so that life does not drift away without meaning.
Are you kidding me?
He says you’re life will be transformed, if you do this for a couple of weeks.
Are you kidding me? Are you crazy? You think reminding me of my own approaching death is helping me? You seriously think that it’s gonna support a peaceful sleep?
Obedient as I am, I follow his advice. I recite the morning gatha, every morning, the gatha of impermanence every night.
It doesn’t transform me. It is a challenge. It triggers episodes of fear of death, of eternity, of life. I struggle with Thich Nhat Hanh‘s teachings on no-birth, no-death, the permanence of life, the impermanence of it’s different manifestations. I don’t like his insights so much, now that they become so close. How is it comforting to know that my death will bring birth to something else? That we are all interconnected? Who cares that I am part of the tree, the bird, the elephant? I want to live! And pretend I won’t die.
Something shifts in me. I see the hair on my husband’s head reclining. I look at his face, his hands. I know one day we will lose each other. One day we will die. No more touch, no more giggling, no more playing Bach together.
A sense of appreciation captures me. I realize that this is the only moment to celebrate him. This is the only moment to cherish myself. There is no other moment. Now is everything I have.
I surrender to the morning gatha. I surrender to the impermanence gatha. And my life transforms.