I find myself following Buddhist teachings more and more as I grow older, and was lucky enough to read the Dalai Lama’s viewpoint on death recently (the featured photo is from the free site Pixabay). The Dalai Lama had spoken to what looked to be 18 /19 year old students at his residence in Dharamsala in April this year about living a happy and meaningful life by helping others, and therefore being able to die with no regrets. He told them that how they live their early lives affects them in old age, and for them to view death like ‘changing old clothes for new ones’, otherwise it becomes mysterious and dark.
Yes, nobody gets out of this life alive, that’s for certain. It makes sense to me that happiness in our old age depends on how we have lived our lives previously. Very few people think of illness, old age and death when they are young, and unfortunately many feel themselves to be immortal at least during teenage years and the early twenties, when they most often do things that might cause regret.
The students hung on to the Dalai Lama’s every word, but I wonder how many of them already had regrets? It’s nigh impossible to put old heads on young shoulders and to live an exemplary life helping others, unless the young person has been fortunate to have had parents who are educated enough to pass on this wisdom before the child reaches maturity.
What kind of parents have murderers had? A young man just in the news recently took a hammer to two women he did not know, just for the hell of it, and caused them critical injuries. Can you imagine the regret and depression this could cause that man in later life if he ever acquires the insight and wisdom that often comes with ageing?
Is there anybody out there who doesn’t have regrets? I suppose the best thing to do is to try and make amends for any mistakes made in the ignorance of youth. It’s all we can do really, and then we have the satisfaction of knowing in our old age that we did the best we could. I feel blessed to have been given a second chance at life, when in reality I probably should not have made it past 50.
In these last 10 years my life has gone through many changes. Sam and I have helped each other to overcome our problems and move on in happiness, and by caring for my dying mother I learned much about the ageing process. Without the 10 extra years I would have gone to my grave quite unhappy at my not-so-young body and the direction my life had taken. I used to dread being post-menopausal, but now it doesn’t worry me in the slightest. Even though I still suffer the after-effects of radiotherapy, as far as I know I’m still disease-free and every new day is a bonus for me. We can’t have perfection, but hey… life is what you make it!