Zen Wisdom 85



Ch'an meditation methods can be strenuous. In dealign with elderly people who are new to the practice, would you alter your techniques to better suit the practitioner? Also, how do you address the issue of elderly people who are newcomers to the Buddhadharma?


In the beginning, when the Buddha left home and later became enlightened, he was still a young man. Also, most of the Buddha's original disciples were young. However, there were a few elderly lay and monastic disciples. For instance, Mahakashyapa, one of the Buddha's greatest disciples, was an old man when he became a monk. Also, a great lay practitioner named Sudhatta was very old when he came in contact with the Buddha's teachings.

Just before the Buddha's death, an old man named Subadhra wished to visit the Buddha and hear his words. Subadhra was already past eighty. He knew that time was short, both for himself and for the Buddha, who was about to enter nirvana. The Buddha's disciples tried to turn him away, saying, "You are already so old, what good would the teachings be for you? The Buddha's time is too precious to waste on you."