Time Files Like an Arrow

Robin Hood aims his arrow
Robin Hood at the Nottingham Castle

“Everyone must clarify the great matter of life and death. Time flies like an arrow. Let’s be careful not to waste the present moment.”

It was a beautiful warm evening in France. I was sat in the temple dojo as a gentle breeze stirred the air and we practiced zazen together. The wood began to sound in the distance and then paused quite unexpectedly…

In an unusual French accent the words,  “Everyone must clarify the great matter of life and death. Time flies like an arrow. Let’s be careful not to waste the present moment,” broke the silence of the dojo.

It’s a moment that I remember very clearly. I was so moved by the words that there were tears my eyes though I couldn’t explain why. The simplicity of the message and the depth of its meaning resonated with something deep within me.

I was thinking of this verse recently as I plan my two months of practice at the La Gendronniere Zen Temple and the Lanau Zen Centre in France. Can I really afford to do this? Am I really able to take the time out?  What am I going to do for money when I get back?

I began thinking… maybe I could do it next year or the year after, I’ll have more money then… Or maybe in five years time, because then I’ll have even more money. Maybe, probably, almost certainly…

But then something from the very core of my being surfaces, the great matter of life and death, and I remember…  this time will never come again. There may not be a next year, there may not even be a tomorrow for me. Who knows? Now is the present… and now is the time!

“Time files like an arrow. Let’s be careful not to waste the present moment.”

Robin Hood - Bow and Arrow

France, here I come!