A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Your body is a RV

You are like a candle. Imagine you are sending light out all around you. All your words, thoughts and actions are going in many directions. If you say something kind, your kind words go in many directions, and you yourself go with them. We are …transforming and continuing in a different form at every moment.

Thich Nhat HanhNo Death, No fear p.122

You may also think of our life as a flash of lightning, we are here, are seen, then gone. In general most people will only be here somewhere less than one hundred years. The first several we are dependent on others to live, then for several years we are dependent on others to teach us the wisdom we need to make our way in the world. So about a quarter of our life is over before we enter the world on our own. Soon after most of us find the person who becomes our spouse and generally within a few years we have children of our own. So another quarter of your life is spent raising the next generation. So we really don’t have much time to make our mark on this world. This is the way it has always been, and will continue to be. Our bodies all have a best before date, luckily we can’t read it.

As a Buddhist we believe in rebirth, so therefore to describe our lives in a western sense, I will use an RV, which stands for recreational vehicle. It might be a pickup truck with a camper, a van converted into a home on wheels or a fancy self contained motor home. The first few years we are learning how to drive, then get a restricted licence. When we have about 16 years or so experience we finally get to hit the road on our own, to follow the paths we choose. How many fast food windows will you have stopped at, instead of going a block or two further for some healthy dining. We need to maintain it, keep it fueled, and wash it regularly. Over the years it will get dings and scratches, perhaps need some work under the hood. Eventually it will wear out, and when we try to find out about a replacement, we find out it’s one per customer at the rental office, it’s a lifetime lease. Some will say, if I had known I would have taken better care of it. Many others will say what about all the fancy options I added, surely that counts for something, sadly the return value with or without added options is zero. That fancy stereo ill be given to someone else, when you return your motor home, that LCD and satellite dish, will either go to someone, or be scrapped.  Just like our lives, when we leave, all we have is what we started with. Everything we accumulated, is left behind on the lot when we are done.

So when you came into this world, you were given an RV, to live in for your stay, and to get you around. The level of options and appearance you started with is based on your actions in the past. You might end up adding to it, or returning it badly damaged. But when the recall is issued, your on the way back to the lot. So think of your body as an RV and you will understand that impermanence applies even to our lives.


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