Monday, February 09, 2009

The Buddhism of Benjamin Button

Daisy, Ben's love interest remarks when they are both in their prime that they are finally 'meeting in the middle'. The truth is, we are always 'meeting in the middle', in the flowing river of time. Buddhism sees the present moment as the centre of time's passage, which is but a measurement of change. We are always smack in the centre, between the past and the future. In fact, now is the only moment we have. There is no need to pine for the transpired past or for the unshaped future, while every moment taken care of now creates happy memories and a better future.

Death Doing Apart

One of Ben's main sources of suffering was to see loved ones already conventionally older than him pass away before him. Then again, in real life, the young often witness the passing of elders too, just as elders sometimes witness the passing of the young. However, as Stonepeace put it, 'Though you might lose your lover (to departure or death), you need not lose your love.' Do we only learn to treasure the beloved when we know they will come to pass? Or rather, we should treasure the beloved now because they are already passing by, changing from moment to moment, even if subtly.

Unconditional love

Daisy wondered if Ben would still love her when she becomes old and saggy, while Ben asks if she will still love him when he has acne as a teenager. How conditional or unconditional is our love? There is really no way to be sure until the ravages of time transform the beloved to test our love. Paradoxically, love is to accept the beloved as they are, while also accepting that they will change in time to be who they are not now. An attribute of true love is that it must make peace with change, yet be unchanging in its devotion to be continually caring despite these changes.

Renunciation for Love

Ben leaves Daisy and their daughter before she becomes old enough to know him, to form attachment to him. It was also a bid to avoid giving Daisy suffering when she eventually has to take care of him when he becomes a young child. It was renunciation of family not due to lack of love, but out of love. However, as he was still attached, he returns abruptly for a visit, thereby disrupting Daisy's new family (with a new husband) a little, stirring up mixed emotions. True Love lets go in good time. Perhaps he shouldn't have returned - if Daisy was already happy with their past times together? Love can still be love at a distance.

To read full article:
by Shen Shi'an, The Buddhist Channel, Feb 6, 2009

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