Today I’d like to share something Buddhist with you. I’m not going to try to convince you to accept Buddha as your lord and savior—that’s not something we do anyway. I’d like to share the evening prayer that I say as a Buddhist, because I believe it has relevance for many people, whatever their faith traditions (even if your faith tradition is atheism.)
Every evening before I go to bed, this is the prayer I say:
“I beg to urge you everyone
life and death is a great matter
all things pass quickly away.
Take heed. Make use of this precious life.”
I like it. I think it’s a good reminder. Did I use my precious life well? Some days we simply drift through the day, not really present. We move down the endless to-do list, but are we really doing things that need to be done? We all have tasks are non-negotiable—bills must be paid, work must happen, dishes must be washed. In other matters, I try to remember the Evening Prayer and use joy as my compass. I want to spend my time with people who give me energy. I want to use my day well.
I also work very hard on being mindful. It’s surprising when you first start to notice it, but even very observant people miss so much of what’s going on around them at any one time. I can be out walking, thinking about the people I need to call, the errands I have to run, and I might miss some of what’s going on right where I am. I want to see the spider web spun between the branches with the droplets of rain. I would be sorry to miss the children walking by with beehive hairdos. I need to see the raccoon ambling by the bus shelter late in the evening.
These are the little pleasures the universe affords us, and once you start paying attention you will notice how much there really is to see. What might you be missing? Isn’t it time to find out?
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
228. Take a mindful walk around your neighborhood. Pay attention to what is going on around you. What can you notice about this area that might not have been there before? You can also try this sitting down somewhere safe with your eyes closed. Listen to the sounds around you—what are you hearing? What does that tell you about your environment?