Streamlining: More Reflections

In sorting through accumulated notes, books, journals, magazines, personal items, letters and cards, as well as CD’s – stored in boxes (from several moves), drawers, cupboards – I became mindful of the following further reflections. The two poems, at the end add, perspective to the task of streamlining. (They are written from a Buddhist worldview.)

Accept New Realities

  1. Accept the realities of my life at 70 years of age!
  2. Will I go back to old notes? [No. Therefore, why keep them? They have served their purpose.]
  3. Do I have the time to go back to old notes? [No. Time is too short at 70. Also, I don’t know when my life will end.]
  4. Realise that knowledge has gone on!
  5. Why cling to dated notes?!
  6. Realise that taking the notes has served its purpose.
  7. Realise that so much information is available on the Internet (which didn’t exist when I took many of the notes).

Question: Has My Life’s Purpose Largely Been Fulfilled?

  1. At 70, this is an important question. Realize that my life is now largely behind me.
  2. Focus on ONE THING only now: The opportunity afforded by this precious life!
  3. Therefore, get rid of all unneeded, and even useless, items — items that will no longer support my precious opportunity.
  4. Don’t waste even a second!
  5. Realise that I simply WON’T BE HERE after a certain time period (which is unknown!).
  6. I don’t have unlimited years and years ahead!

Think of My End of Life

  1. Cut needless activities and ties — that are not fruitful.
  2. Focus on the journey ahead of me! Not this life only.
  3. “This is it!” A precious opportunity to still do what I can.
  4. Be wise regarding (a) diet, (b) exercise, (c) sleep.
  5. Stay alert, focused on my calling, and on the task(s) at hand.
  6. Give up foolish perfectionism!
  7. Realize that the hoarding that I have fallen prey to, can’t go on!
  8. Get rid of useless clutter!


And so, Farewell, my friend
Your time comes to its end:
Departed once again through that greatest of doors,
To be, here with us, no more.
As you make your way alone
Into that vast unknown
Such deep prayers extend,
to serve you as a friend
When, as strangers,
We’ll meet again.
As thanks and tears combine,
The turning water-wheel of time
That scooped us both up from life’s long stream
Now empties out our dream.
From my heart, I wish you so well
In whichever forms you’ll dwell
In every land or realm where you’ll abide
May dharma ever be your guide.
With you goes some part of me
And, besides all these memories,
What you changed in me remains behind
Within this garden of my mind.
From my heart, I wish you so well
In whichever forms you’ll dwell
In every land or realm where you’ll abide
May dharma ever be your guide.
Source: Ken Holmes
Ken Holmes is a Western Buddhist teacher at Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre in Scotland.
 Turning the Mind Away from Samsara

Death comes without warning!
It may come today,
Parting me from all that is familiar
And all those I love.
Now is the time to think
Of what heart connections mean.
Now is the time to think
Of what goes beyond birth and death.
Now is the time to discover
And learn to trust
The Openness, Clarity, and Sensitivity
Of my being,
The Indestructible Heart Essence of all beings.
I have today to prepare.
Worldly attachments are useless,
As are anger and delusion.
Now is the time to let them go
And rest relaxed in my own true nature.
What use am I to others
If I am no use to myself?
How can I liberate them
If I cannot liberate myself?
May I and all beings be happy
And have the causes of happiness.
May I and all beings be free from suffering
And the causes of suffering.
May I and all beings have the happiness of complete Awakening
That will never diminish or fail.
Thus may we abide in great equanimity,
Unruffled by attachment and aversion
And with equal love for all beings.
Source: Hookham, Lama Shenpen. There's More to Dying than
Death. Windhorse Publications Ltd.
(Written by Lama Shenpen Hookham for the benefit of students
attending a meditation retreat in the autumn of 2002.)
Writing a letter of instructions for our final arrangements affords a special opportunity to relieve our loved ones of difficult decisions and to respond to their sorrow with forethought and compassion. As we think about what we need or would wish in order to die in peace, as we envision our own funeral, the persistent tendency to distance ourselves from death dissipates and we gain an invaluable measure of equanimity.
(Chagdud Khadro)