January 21, 2011

Why do we fear aging?

From the stormy waves of being born, growing old, sickness and dying, from the ocean of suffering may I free all beings.

Why do we fear wrinkles? I’m 36, and have a few now. Whenever I give a shiite, which thankfully isn’t often, I think of Steve McQueen, looking handsomer as he grew older:

Why do we dye our hair? Why do we fear balding?

Vanity, of course. But what is vanity, and what purpose does it serve?

On the positive end, vanity (as well as a tight back) is what keeps me exercising—climbing, or going to yoga, and bicycling to and fro meetings and meals.

On the negative end, we seem to wrap our self-esteem up with our youthful looks. Why do we think young people look better? I know plenty of beautiful old people. I don’t fear death—I fear living a life that doesn’t add up to anything.

Many Buddhists say this after every meal, or meditation session, or meeting:

By this merit may all attain peace, may it defeat the enemy: wrongdoing.

From the stormy waves of being born, growing old, sickness and dying

Grom the ocean of suffering may I free all beings.

It’s a nice thing to keep in mind: no one gets out of life, alive. Live for the benefit of others. Put down the moisturizer: sit down on the meditation cushion, and dedicate yourself to a wonderful world in terrible need.

Who do you know, or know of, who grew or has grown more beautiful with age?

Obama image: Gawker.

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & 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, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.