Think of it this way: each morning you wake, you have one less sleep … till … death! Whether you believe in heaven and paradise, hope to make it to nirvana or the Other Side, come back as the Dalai Lama, Mona Lisa, a chicken, an orchid, or some other being … fact is, we’re all going to die.
We die the moment we’re born. I’m not being morose, don’t get me wrong. I’m the first one to hide my head in the sand and look for a distraction: cup of tea, shower, maybe staying in bed a little longer, read or finish last night’s video, start thinking about the day ahead, plan once activity or another, worry about old business, scheme about new stuff. Anything but face the fact that this moment, this breath, could be my last. The ego, the self, just won’t have it. It refused to contemplate its own surmise. Yet, if work at hospice can teach me one thing, it’s that very few people are ready and resolved to die–everyone else puts up “a good fight” to stave off the inevitable.
As Shakyamuni Buddha is said to have said:
I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.
I am of the nature to have ill-health.
There is no way to escape having ill-health.
I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love
are of the nature to change.
There is no way to escape being separated from them.
My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground on which I stand.
… and Woody Allan:
“It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
p.s. I wrote this before I went to the monastery for a week’s silent retreat. Back on December 15, unless …