|The unforgettable ‘appointment with death’ scene from Agneepath|
In the iconic, original, Hindi movie ‘Agneepath’ (Path of Fire, 1990, Mukul Anand), Vijay Dinanath Chauhan, played admirably, memorably by Amitabh Bachchan, tells the Police Commissioner, M.S.Gaitonde (Vikram Gokhale) that he (Vijay) has ‘an appointment with death’ at 6.30 PM that evening. The unforgettable dialogue is, ‘Apun ka maut ke saath appentment hai, kya?’.
I was reminded of that movie and that dialogue when I came across the concept of our appointment with Life. With some time to kill, I ended up browsing through the famous Nalanda bookstore at the Taj Mahal Hotel, by the Gateway of India, yesterday. There, Vitenamese Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hahn’s (Thay) book “Our Appointment With Life” stared back at me.
It is such a simple and beautiful concept. In our everyday Life, all through each week, our calendars are full of appointments. Technology has made the calendar universally compatible across multiple platforms – MS Outlook, Apple, Google, smart phones and so on. Reminders and alerts are possible too. Overlapping events are pointed out. And at a glance a whole month or quarter or year can be looked up. Many people I know have often displayed enormous pride in declaring that their calendars are full for many, many weeks and months.
But what about our appointment with Life?
Thay writes in his usual, inimitable, simple, soul invoking style: “Our appointment with Life is in the present moment. The place of our appointment is right here, in this place.” So beautiful.
Thay quotes The Buddha from the Dhammapada as saying, “Let go of what is the past. Let go of what is not yet. Observe deeply what is happening in the present moment, but do not be attached to it.” This, says Thay, is the way to keep our appointment with Life! To live perpetually in the present moment.
‘Agneepath’s’ Vijay Dinanath Chauhan famously demonstrated fearlessness by agreeing to keep his appointment with death, by venturing out to meet his detractors who were waiting to assassinate him. What about you and me? Of course, we all have an appointment with death – except we don’t know when it actually is! But we can choose to keep our appointment with Life by learning to live, with detachment, in the present moment – unburdened by the past and unmindful of the future. Simply, by being – engaged with present!