Every body gets Old.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Jun 11, 2010
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Actresses At The Beginning Of Their Career vs Now (imgur.com)

Actresses At The Beginning Of Their Career vs Now

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What a difference 40 years make:


The Buddha: on aging gracefully.

“At death, a person abandons what he construes as mine.~ The Buddha.


On one occasion, late in his life, the Buddha sat warming his back in the western sun. Then Ananda [a senior student] went to the him and massaged his limbs with his hand and said,

“It is amazing, lord. It is astounding, how the Blessed One’s complexion is no longer so clear and bright; his limbs are flabby and wrinkled; his back, bent forward; there’s a discernible change in his faculties—the faculty of the eye, the faculty of the ear, the faculty of the nose, the faculty of the tongue, the faculty of the body.”

“That is the way it is, Ananda. When young, one is subject to aging; when healthy, subject to illness; when alive, subject to death..”

With the arising of birth there is the arising of aging and death.


The householder Nakulapita went to the Blessed One and said,

“Bhagavan, I am a feeble old man, aged, advanced in years, having come to the last stage of life. I am afflicted in body and ailing with every moment. And it is only rarely that I get to see the Bhagavan and the monks who nourish the heart. May the Bhagavan teach me, may the Bhagavan instruct me, for my long-term benefit and happiness.”

“So it is, householder. The body is afflicted, weak, and encumbered. So you should train yourself: ‘Even though I may be afflicted in body, my mind will be unafflicted.’ That is how you should train yourself.”

Sariputta added: “And how is one afflicted in body but unafflicted in mind? A well-instructed disciple has regard for noble ones and is well-versed and disciplined in their Dharma [truth]; has regard for men of integrity and is well-versed and disciplined in their Dharma [truth]—his form changes and alters, but he does not fall into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair over its change and alteration.”


On one occasion, two men went to Buddha and said:

“Master Gotama, we are brahmans—feeble old men, aged, advanced in years, having come to the last stage of life, 120 years old. Teach us, Master Gautama. Instruct us, Master Gautama, for our long-term benefit and happiness.”

The Buddha replied:

“This world is swept away by aging, by illness, by death.
For one swept on by aging, no shelters exist.
Keeping sight of this danger in death,

do meritorious deeds that bring bliss.
Make merit while alive.
When the world is on fire with aging and death, one should salvage [future wealth] by giving.”


“What, if well-established, serves one well until old age?
What is a precious treasure for man?
What is difficult for thieves to take away?”

Buddha’s answer:
“Moral conduct serves one well till old age.
Sradda [1] if well-established, serves one well.
Knowledge is a precious treasure for man.
The merit of good actions is difficult for thieves to take away.”
–   Jara Sutta

[1] Sradda (Sanskrit) or saddha (Pali), is confidence resting on inner knowledge. What is meant is hardly blind faith, but deep conviction and even better: confidence based on one’s activated knowledge. It is established by experience alone.

How to Age Gracefully (youtube.com)


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


20 Responses to “Every body gets Old.”

  1. Bodhipaksa says:

    Even the Buddha found getting old to be a pain. In the Jara sutta he's quoted as saying:

    "I spit on you, old age — old age that makes for ugliness. The bodily image, so charming, is trampled by old age. Even those who live to a hundred are headed — all — to an end in death, which spares no one, which tramples all."

    I love the humanity of that statement. The fact that it doesn't fit with our often idealized notions of how the Buddha behaved suggests that a glimmer of his authentic personality may be showing through the often sanitized scriptures. I like that the Buddha didn't like getting old. I'll accept aging as best I can, but on some level I think it's always going to be something I don't like.

  2. Yeshe Dorje says:

    "Every day body older. Every day life shorter." Thus I have heard…

  3. Padma Kadag says:

    I only hope that I am joyfull in falling into illness, I pray that illness comes my way and that I welcome it as the Guru. And as for Death..wouldn't that be wonderful!?

  4. I really love the pic of aging Barbie… Thanks Way.

  5. smithnd says:

    You know, some things get better with age. Like, wine. And love.

    Thanks for these beautiful reminders, Way.

  6. Heather Grimes says:

    I love this, Waylon. The image is incredible and the excerpts you used are exactly what I needed to read this morning to set my mind right. Lovely.

  7. ARCreated says:

    I don't plan on giving into old age but I have found that I can accept things as they come..I am not 20 or 30 or 40 anymore I may not get a whistle when I walk down the street, but instead people come to me for advice and my marriage is of a quality that I dont' think I would have even understood when I was younger and I only see that growing. I hope someday to embrace the imagine of crone (albeit an active flexible crone.) that has traded the trappings of youth for the blessings of wisdom! …

    I want to live until I die, no more and no less. 🙂

  8. elephantjournal says:

    facing a birthday with the new year, thanks for helping me reflect in a different way

  9. tamingauthor says:

    Yea! A subject on Elephant of which I am becoming more and more an expert.

    The Buddha teaches so cleverly through his own experience. If one does not realize—with dead-bang certainty— that one is not the body but rather the observer of the transient body as it changes and perishes, old age can be a real bitch.

    Our mainstream culture reflects the fears of the degradation of the body to such a great extent. But there are pockets where I discover people calm in this knowledge. What a joy to discover people who have learned the lessons during this precious lifetime. A toast to these wise ones!

  10. tamingauthor says:

    SOLUTION. Work out and generate new adult stem cells that revitalize the muscles. Age gracefully. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/1012

  11. Joe Sparks says:

    What human beings are good at, at being human, at coping with the environment in a variety of masterful ways, seems to improve with experience and wisdom, with the acquisition of new knowledge and skills. Aging and death have interrupted this process for all humans in the past but not to any useful purpose.

  12. yoga freedom says:

    Thank you for this. It is especially timely and reassuring as I am in the process of grieving my loyal doggie companion, Lucy. I am always comforted by the wisdom of the Buddha.

  13. Guy Leisure says:

    From my perspective, there is only immortality . . . until proven otherwise.

    Carpe diem perpétuum.

  14. Where can I get this doll?

  15. Onyx The Cat says:

    I will live forever or die trying 🙂

  16. […] For more: “The Buddha, on aging gracefully: Every body gets old.” […]

  17. […] And, Every Body gets Old—even Barbie. […]

  18. […] sewed her face up into near-non-expression in a quest for conventionality…while Streep lets aging happens, and has become the face of timeless Hollywood […]

  19. elephantjournal says:

    Amen. Great comment. It is what it is, and no "spirituality" can make it otherwise.

  20. Bexo says:

    Was privileged to walk with my parents through old age and sat by their beds at death. One was a fighter, one an acceptor. The acceptor had a graceful, dignified exit. The fighter, not so much.