Our Home, Titanic

One hundred years ago on April 14, RMS Titanic sank with the loss of 1514 lives. On centenary of the sinking, there is a lot of interest in the ship and its history. Various items that have been held in private hands until now are going on sale. One such item was the luncheon menu dated April 14, 1912 that was sold for $122,000.

A sample of the dishes on offer to the shipʼs wealthiest included chicken a la Maryland and eggs Argenteuil, a plate of poached eggs with asparagus. A passenger had slipped the paper into her handbag after lunch, unaware that she would be carrying it onto a lifeboat that evening. The couple and their son survived the tragedy, and the menu had stayed in the family ever since.

It was not the last meal for this family; however, even though it wasnʼt the last meal, but they could never have imagined what misfortune would hit the “unsinkable” ship they were traveling on that night.

For another 1514 passengers that nightʼs meal was their last and final meal. It reminds me of someone on death row, who on the day of their execution they are given a choice of what to eat for their final meal. The only difference between the passengers on board Titanic and the condemned prisoner is that a prisoner knows they will die that day. Those on Titanic, who died, and for the rest of the human race has no such forewarning. Rather we live each day as though we will never die. We have no feeling that today could be our last. We live numb to impermanence and our own mortality. But for sure a day will come when that meal will be our last.

We have two minds, as it is taught in Buddhism: the mind that knows it will die, and the mind that thinks it will never die. What a contradictory state we live in! The true belief is, of course, that we will die. And the truth is that we can listen to stories of impermanence such as about Titanic every day and still we would not feel a deeper sensitivity to impermanence. The only way to feel the urgent matter of the afterlife is by continuing to listen to lectures on Buddhism. Our true mind that lies at the bottom of our stomach is likened to a corpse, dead to all that is thrown at it. But just like a stone that is subjected to a persistent drop of water, a hole will eventually form in the hard stone made by the soft drops. By persistent listening to the true words of Buddhism that goes in our ears and drops onto the corpse of our true mind, this mind will one day listen to the truth. The reality is that we are all traveling on Titanic. When it will sink, we donʼt know. For this reason we must hasten to become aware of lifeʼs impermanence, know the urgent matter of the afterlife and seek the solution while alive. We eat to live and eating delicious meals is fine as long as we are aware of the true reason that we are eating, to stay alive to accomplish the purpose of life and live on in eternal happiness.

Frank Costelloe, U.S.A

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #15 | 2012, Our Home, Titanic

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