I agree with Chris, life and one's bathroom mirror is the very best teacher when it comes to old age, sickness, and death - if we're awake to these experiences.
Clears up reality
And dream alike
- Sunao, Zen monk. Died 1926
Late this last Sunday, I had a major heart attack. For about 45 minutes I was a blink from death. Paramedics came and rushed me to hospital, threw me on a stainless steel table in an icy cold room, poured liquid anesthesia on the groin, cut a hole into the artery, moved a cable up the artery to the heart, dislodged the blockage, inserted a NASA quality tiny sewer pipe in the vein, removed the cable, slapped a bandage on the hole, and stuck the body in bed to recover...and then cleaned the table for the next person, and the next, and the next, and the next... The actual procedure took less than 15 minutes. Observing the massive chest pains and the intense, amazing sensations that were arising as a result of the mechanical manipulations taking place inside the heart cleared away yet another layer of confusion. Looking at my face in the mirror a day later cleared up even more confusion. Taking the 6 drugs daily clears away even more.
We don't need a teacher to contemplate aging, sickness, and death. We only need to see what's right in front of, in us, and all around us. Point at anything that isn't aging and degenerating. At any age, if we look behind our deluded self-cherishing of youth and our veneration of regeneration, we see our denied but nevertheless active shadow...aging and degeneration. We have a choice in every single moment - recognize that each inhale may be the last...or delude ourselves with constant reaching and becoming. This choice is our birth right. Choose carefully.