For as long as I can remember I have kept a book of Buddhist teachings called The Mirror of Mindfulness. It has been about two years since I last saw it among my books, but then again, as much as I love collecting, reading and keeping books, I also have the tendency to give them away, especially to people whom I feel deserve them. I have even tried selling books. In fact, since the year 2002, I have sold and given away so many books and magazines that I had kept a journal of all of them, but it got lost somewhere along my paths.
While there are many good reasons to keep a large library, as I value knowledge as much as anyone else, I also think that many things are not permanent therefore there is no need to be too attached to them. To my loved ones, this may seem irresponsible or careless, but my experiences have taught me well to not ever be overly attached to anything. This does not mean that I cannot commit to anything or anyone; to the contrary, I can be one of the most dependable people, but I can also easily let things slide as they say. Needless to say, I feel the same way about knowledge. Perhaps I am an adapter rather than a fundamentalist. I believe that all things come to pass …
Here is now the Buddhist teachers put it in the book, The Mirror of Mindfulness ( taken from notes that I had copied):
“In general, one should constantly keep in mind the impermanence of all compounded things; in particular that the time of one’s death is uncertain, and especially that at the time of dying, nothing whatsoever can help one, except the oral instructions from ones master.
If one does not remember this and practice, one will surely arrive at death regretful, still trying to comprehend various categories of teachings or struggling in the pursuit of pleasure, food, and clothing.
The Chedu Jope Tsom states:
All people feel attachment to their possessions – to children, cattle, and wealth; “That I have done, now I do this. When this has been done, I will then do that.”
While people are thus being fooled by distractions, they depart, snapped away by the Lord of Death.”
I must add that, the Mirror of Mindfulness was one of the most difficult books I have ever read. I think I bought it in Cape Town during one of my travels there on either political or activist work. Whenever I visit any place, the first thing I look for is a bookstore …
I find bookstores quite fascinating and also a little bit narcissistic. They are like these great archives of various scattered histories, stories, instructions and multifaceted works, yet while they are open for all to walk into and find whatever one may look for, they tend to possess an air of feigned permanence. It is as if whatever has been captures in those books and in those stores has now made its mark on history, however significant or insignificant …The Mirror of Mindfulness helped me to realise that there is no great difference between the obscure unsung writer, inventor or creator and any famous or celebrated personality such as Dickens, Shakespeare, Achebe or Mda… ( I will elaborate further, the babies are crying …)