The Seen and the Unseen: The Young and the Elderly

Oct. 17th, 2018 

South Florida is an interesting place. Like all places, I suppose, each has it’s own mood, it’s own ambience.

Last weekend I led a workshop in a vibrant youthful yoga community in Del Ray Beach. These last few days, I’ve been spending with my 91 year-old mother, Edith, in Boca Raton.

I keep thinking of the story of the Prince Gautama Buddha, and how it was predicted that he would renounce his father’s kingdom and the world.

His father, the king, took precaution to shelter his son from any possible stray introspection. The prince grew up surrounded by beautiful young people, pleasure gardens and all possible enjoyments of life. He was never to see suffering, or disease, old age or death.

But one day the inquisitive young prince scaled the wall and began to observe and inquire:

 “What is this I see?”

“Dear boy, this is suffering- this is disease- this is old age- and this is death. And after death- again, there will be rebirth!”

Our culture also seems to have created such a veneer of an ever-youthful pleasure garden: in the media, on the billboards, the internet, in film… Beautiful people, an endless summer, with questions of why? sidelined to the fringe. With cancer wards tucked away behind corporate walls. Just a little more acquisition should fill the emptiness in my heart- with no alert to my time… to my youth- slipping away each day.

I see an elderly couple walking out of an elevator, clutching each other for support, for dear life…

What is our purpose in this temporary place? Aren’t we meant to begin to awaken- before our next death- some inkling of who we are and why we are here?

But the voices of the sadhus are there, in every place, in every generation, calling to us:

“But then a voice, how deep and soft,

Within ourselves is left,

Soul! Soul! Thou art immortal soul!

Thee death can never melt.”

Bhaktivinode Thakur