The philosopher, Epicurus, was a refreshingly wise voice in third century Greece. Refreshing, because he steered away from ponderous philosophical debate - wise, because he placed our rumination about the meaning of life where it really matters: how to live as fulfilled and happy a life as possible before we die. That did not mean that you simply followed your desires and ignored the welfare of others. Because such hedonism, he said, inevitably leads to unhappiness - for others as well as yourself - because our own happiness is inevitably interdependent with that of others'. The Buddha stressed this sentiment three centuries before Epicurus. Jesus, too, had the same message three centuries after Epicurus: "Do unto others...", he said. So, when we sit on our black cushions in the Meditation Hall, we are in excellent company.
In rural Greece you will come across elderly men sitting on park benches in the dappled shade of trees, within a short stroll of the local taverna. They talk idly about their past - stories their companions have heard many times before. They shake their heads occasionally and think of other things - or nothing at all. The stories just waft away in the warm Mediterranean breeze. The talking only halts when a pretty woman passes by - and resumes when she is out of sight.
This is what Epicurus said about the joys of growing old and, hopefully, wise: (Note to the politically correct: please don't be offended by Epicurus' male gender reference...I am sure he meant his sentiments to apply equally well to females - 18 centuries later....)
It is not the young man
Who should be considered fortunate
But the old man who has lived well
Because the young man in his prime
Wanders by chance, vacillating in his beliefs
Whilst the old man has docked in the harbour
Having safeguarded his true happiness
Do we have to wait until we are old to sit on a park bench before we can indulge in such ruminations? How about sitting on a black cushion in the Zendo and finding out what the Buddha had to say about giving our mind some space, stillness and calmness, finding our safe harbour from which to sail forth into the rest of our life? Our forthcoming program offers an array of choices to do that.