Here in the North Country a few branches of leaves begin to show autumn colors by the end of August. In the past week I see some yellowing and falling to the lawn, foreshadowing the turn of the season from summer to snow. The setting sun is retracing the path it took in spring and the afternoon light falls now in early September as it did in mid-April.
Last month at the Monday evening discussions at Celestial Drum we reflected how observation of the natural world serves as a mirror, giving us clearer understanding of our own lives. In September, during our Monday discussions, we extend these thoughts to “Life, Death and Rebirth”. Seeing the change of the seasons, seeing the fall of the leaves in September; the winter period of hibernation; the fresh new green of spring; the fruiting of summer are all representative of cycles of beginning, ending, and new beginning that take place moment by moment and eon by eon. The scale of time may be vast or nearly instantaneous, but the same process is occurring through all.
We experience life, death and rebirth not only between lifetimes, but within this single lifetime as well; hourly, weekly, yearly; reflecting back that process of interlinking cycles we see in the natural world around us. Through reflection and Buddhist practice we gain a clearer understanding of the ever-flowing nature of life and death, our place within that flow, and the opportunity it offers to be free of transient sorrows.