One of the first things to come to my mind with the word clock is that time is running out. Perhaps this is spurred on by the fact that I will be 72 in a few weeks and my body tells me on a daily basis that this dance will not go on forever – time for me personally is truly running out. Despite many physical reminders that living forever is not going to happen there is still a part of me that has yet to acknowledge my imminent mortality. Surely the world will not be able to go on without me. It will of course go on just fine without me despite my delusional thinking to the contrary.
As I have written about several times in the past for this group, I spent a good decade or more practicing with a Korean sect of Zen Buddhism here in Denver called the Kwan Um School of Zen. A Dharma Brother from those years recently sent me a link to a documentary called Living in the Time of Dying ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvzmPyY08ck )directed and produced by Michael Shaw. Not meaning to tip into hyperbole here but this 54-minute documentary was one of the most impacting pieces of raw, truth-telling cinema I have ever seen. I have now watched it three times and expect a fourth viewing is on the way.
It is an unvarnished look at the current climate crisis and the likely reality that we are at a point of no return. The collapse of biodiversity and the very probable extinction of the human race, along with many other sentient beings, is already baked in. No Paris Climate Accord or Green New Deal will be able to allow us to reverse course however this is not to say that these are not efforts worth pursuing, we just need to do this with eyes wide open. This is not the video to watch if you are looking for hope but a hard look at what to do if there is no hope. As one Buddhist teacher is quoted as saying in the film, and I am paraphrasing here, we have an obligation to work at efforts that would allow a little insignificant organism in the Amazon rainforest even one more week to live.
One particularly poignant scene in the documentary is with a Chiricahua Apache elder named Stan Rushworth. He relates being taken out to a pond by his grandfather I believe at the age of six and sitting on the bank. The teaching as it turned out involved simply sitting quietly and observing and listening with no spoken words. All sorts of life from pond reeds to dragonflies soon came into focus and with that an awareness of all the life right in front of them. All we need to do is simply stop and listen. Stan’s story re-enforced for me the old teaching from my mother and her frequent injunction for me to sit still and be quiet something I, unfortunately, did not appreciate the wisdom of when I was six years old.
I am once more reminded of the potent reality of this Story Telling Group. The real benefit of the group for each of us comes not from telling our story, something we already know, but from listening to the stories of others and that is where we may learn something new.