Practicing Dharma in Old Age  

Yutang Lin



As one enters old age physical strength gradually dwindles
And one realizes that the remaining time is not much
Furthermore, now and then, illnesses and pains arrive to bother
How should one practice Dharma at such a juncture

Since one is no longer capable of handling complicated and heavy stuff
One should simplify and reduce Dharma practices and activities
Concentrate on simple epithet of Buddha or short mantra
And if one is still capable of doing some physical exercises
Daily do prostrations to Buddha and circumambulations
         As one meaningful way of exercising the body

In life many are the things that one could not let go of
Making use of the increasing forgetfulness in old age
Be grateful that one could now really forget something
         And thereby reduce self-inflicted mental tortures
Only the aspiration toward full enlightenment must not be forgotten
Because only this path can ultimately benefit oneself as well as all others
All the rest, no need to expound explicitly, will soon become
         Flowers in mirrors and moon in water

What one has seen in life is full of endless human sufferings
One should hover in mind genuine compassionate mercy
And dedicate the remaining meager strength and energy
Fully into praying to Buddha for all sentient beings' sake
May they soon leave suffering in transmigration
         And arrive at the other shore of blissful emancipation

If one could develop great Bodhicitta
To employ all powers one has accumulated in life
         To help propagate Dharma
Thus one would not only soon advance to the stages of Bodhisattva
But also help many beings and increase harmony and happiness in the world
To fulfill Buddha's compassionate intentions
         There could be no better approach in old age

Written in Chinese and translated on February 21, 2012
El Cerrito, California