A rich landowner was very well loved by all those who worked for him on account that he was a very caring and compassionate man. The man’s pride and joy and one real vice, was his wine cellar; of which he was immensely proud. He had wines of all vintages from all over the world, reds, whites, dry and sweet, before dinner, with dinner, after dinner; you name it, he had a wine for the occasion. Amongst all of his vast collection, there was one single bottle of an extremely rare vintage that he was waiting to share with the right person. Many a time he was on the verge of sharing, but it never quite happened.
One day the governour of the state visited him but the man thought to himself, “I can’t open this vintage wine and share it with a mere governour.” Soon after, he was visited by the Arch-Bishop, but “no” he thought, “this man just wouldn’t appreciate it.” He then entertained a member of the royal family, and as they supped he also felt that this royal simply wasn’t senior enough to taste the rare vintage. Even when his son got married, he was tempted then to crack open the bottle and toast the happy couple, but again had second thoughts, believing that none of the guests, or indeed his own son, were appreciative enough to taste the rare vintage. Eventually, the man became old and died and the rare vintage remained undrunk.
The day of his funeral came, and because he had been so kind and popular in life, all his employees and the peasants of the area were invited to attend a great celebration of his life. All the wine was brought out from the cellar, including the one, single bottle of the very rare vintage. The man’s family shared the wine with everyone present. However, the peasants and indeed the family, knew nothing of vintages and to them all that was poured into their cup was wine; plain and simple wine.
So it is in life too. No matter what status we are given by others, or whatever status we award ourselves, it all eventually comes down to the same thing. Death does not discriminate; it takes all of us eventually from our physical bodies. I am a firm believer, especially now I am older, that status is very superficial and holds no importance, except that which may be contextual. The greatest people I have ever known and been inspired by, have been those, that in the worldly sense of the word, had little or no status in life. They were people who were simply kind, caring and compassionate.
In Zen, death is considered to be part of life, a stepping stone to the next experience. I hope, my friend, that you drink and enjoy the wine of life that is your experience and I hope your chosen vintage is love…