The meeting occurred by chance, two old men sitting in the same park staring at the same empty chess board as the waves of the Stygian Sea lapped against the break wall, the ferryman now at the helm of the great cargo ship. “So,” said Hillel, “you come here often?” Old, bent Buddha paused “as far as I know, I have always been here, or perhaps I am not here now, never have been.” “I know the feeling” the ancient Rabbi said “I’ve been here so long, I too have begun to doubt my very existence.” Buddha rubbed his great girth and smiled placidly as a black bird alighted on his shoulder. The Rabbi stroked his beard the stood on one foot, only to have two bluejays land, one on each arm. “Would you care to join me,” he asked, “for a meal at Ming’s or if you prefer, we can do take out from the Dragon Palace, whatever suits your mood, in any event, my treat this time.” The saffron robed old man unfolded himself, and erect and bowing, said “It would honor me to dine with you but if you wouldn’t mind I’d much prefer a bowl of chicken soup with kreplach and a pastrami on rye.”
It’s a question of faith. You have to have some even if you doubt it, in fact your doubt is proof you have faith if only in doubt, for you know you cannot prove doubt, you just cling to it as a matter of faith. Your faith need not be religious though much of faith is, it can be philosophical or whimsical if you prefer. It can be most anything unless you are certain of everything in which case you are immortal, on death’s doorstep or simply a fool.
The moon has gone past full and as waning as I write, it’s slow retreat hopefully taking with it the burden of winter, that we now must measure in feet, the inches having been heaved up, one upon another. Spring will come soon for a taste of it, for spring is an inveterate tease, preferring to appear only long enough to let the melting snows floor around, and to occasionally into our homes, so that we, maps and markets in hand, pause to dream of the summer which we now doubt will ever appear.
The single greatest problem In writing about death Is that everybody does it, dies Sooner or later, so it’s hardly All that special unless, like Twain, it happens more than once. But perhaps multiple deaths are not All that uncommon, for Buddhists, Among whom I count myself It happens all the time, karma demands it. And if I had any doubt, Google will confirm it. I, for instance, died the seasoned lawyer in Calgary in 2009, the trade I practice for 36 years, And I ironically died on my birthday In 2011 in Palm Beach Gardens, though I’ll be damned if I felt 84 then, and I kicked bucket in 1754 in Orbach, France But I’ve never been a real fan of the French although it is my next best language And when the wine is good, it’s great.
There is probably much that could be said, a bit less that should be said, but I I’m not the person to say it, and remain silent. You are surprised by the silence — it is not what you expect of me, and that you find disconcerting and a bit unnerving. If I asked you what you would have me say, I doubt you could find anything in particular. It is more the sound of my voice you expect, not the words I choose to utter or retain. It all comes down to words, doesn’t it? And yet they fail us with such regularity, we each must wonder why we speak at all.
Set aside for a moment
the sheer insanity of it all.
Pretend that this is not
your concern, it is merely
something that you inherited,
never wanted, would gladly
part with on the simplest
of requests you doubt
will ever be forthcoming.
Is this why you treasure it
and cling to it so tightly
or is there still the slightest
but of the magic that once
attracted you, that you thought
you had put aside, knowing
full well you never could.
You believe this is how, and where, it begins, but that is only your conception of it. You believe the mirror shows your face each morning, but it is merely polished glass, and you mind sees what it perceives to be you in the glass, while the glass is empty. It has no real beginning, at least not one that you or I can hope to identify, it has always been and it will never be, but we will perceive it to be as it has been, perceive it to have begun at some point in time, but time is also a perception, a way we can try to define our perceptions. You may well doubt all of this, but know that doubt is the beginning of understanding, so you have begun to walk along the way, which is where you are and have always been, if you can only conceive of it that way.