He has been walking for hours, or, perhaps for days, it doesn’t matter since he is precisely where he should be at this moment. He is tired, so he sits in seiza and watches a colony of ants working away in a crack in the path, each doing his assigned task. He knows ants have Buddha nature for when they walk, they just walk, like he does, and when they eat they just eat and he has never seen a solitary ant wobble.
Birth, he said, is the first and only real terminal disease. You only realize that, of course, when it is far too late and there is nothing at all you can do about it. Cancer and all manner of diseases merely shift the timeline, but once you’re on the path, there is only one way off, and that is a step few are willing to take. For some, this is a source of terror, for others it is no more than a slow walk around the block, with the promise you’ll eventually arrive back at the place you began, although it is no longer the place you began but one from which you begin, not again but anew. Again. This is what the Buddha said 3000 years ago, more or less. He confirmed that the just the other day, outside the soup kitchen. “Hey,” Buddha said, “even the once or twice enlightened need to eat from time to time. Join me?”