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Transforming aging and illness into the path

Transforming aging and illness into the path

Bob giving a talk at Sravasti Abbey in front of the Chenrezig Hall altar.
Bob Wilson at Sravasti Abbey

The following is excerpted from a letter Bob sent to the Abbey.

It has been a year since my knee surgery, and my knee is now just like a normal knee. What has proved even more challenging is my experience and diagnosis with Parkinson’s. It has allowed me to practice deep acceptance, presence, mindfulness, and slowing down!

I asked myself: How will I use this ripening of karma in my life to nurture deeper wisdom and bring this disease into my spiritual practice? I contemplated my life situation and what life has taught me so far and set my intention for my new journey:

If it’s better for me to be ill,
I pray for the blessing of illness.
If it is better for me to recover,
I pray for the blessing of recovery.
If it’s better for me to die,
I pray for the blessing of death.

–A mind-training tradition prayer

I vow to bloom where I am planted and to let go of my own suffering.

I wanted to manage my “earth suit” (body) and at the same time not create a solid self. I started to look within and ask myself: Who is sick? Am “I” my illness? Can I maintain my awareness and presence as I notice what arises in my body, mind, and emotions? Can I let go of rejection, impatience, and fear? If I do, what happens to my mind and emotions?

I chose to set my motivation: May whatever symptoms that arise in my earth suit be a teaching for me. May I use them to deepen my compassion and wisdom and may be a blessing to all beings in every realm. I remind myself that I am a caretaker of the earth suit that my consciousness is associated with in this life. The body is not who I am in totality.

With deep appreciation for our wonderful Abbey community….which brings peace to a chaotic world!

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.

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