There is no way of escaping death. It is as sure an event as birth. Applying a crutch of science and a materialistic view will not alter that fact. Neither will insisting on creating a comforting myth to cushion the eventual blow to our mortality. Heaven, Pure Land or the Great Unimaginable are all just constructs to allow us to face death. But these comforts eventually blind us and bind us to everlasting life ~ an adolescence that never ends. Lost boys in never-never land.
By contemplating death and engaging it directly we recognize the wealth of this human birth and how precious it is. It allows us to live a most meaningful and beneficial life. Direct exposure and understanding of death allows us to remove some of the fear and stigma and approach this event as the final test to this long human practice. To face death with compassion. When you go, will you yearn for more or will you grasp my hand and pass metta along?
Forget rebirth and forget about merit. Allow your practice to be what your practice is ~ a preparation for your last moment. All the breath in the world, every moment of zazen is training for the final gasp. One. Last. Thought. Passing. Why grasp?
Place my skull on the mantle. Let it grin and speak to it. Yell at it. When the children are uppity, direct them to me and say “Ask your Father!” I will be sitting there grinning. One small filling in my jaw gleaming. Fill my cranium with a supply of lollipops and dust me every once in a while…
…I have allergies.
I am not a skull. Not a rock in the ground. Not the sum of all these moments that pass. Just a bag of sawdust that lasts for moments and takes a few punches. For all our mental confusion and debate, we are just mantle-pieces grinning empty into space. Feeding hungry ghosts with fear rather than nurturing with compassion.
In. Out. Breathe. In. Oooouuut.
This body and mind of ours, will soon be lying on the ground
Like a useless piece of drift wood, washed upon the shore.
Our consciousness will vanish, the mind will not be there,
Just like a bubble bursting on the water, turning into air.
We came into this world without an invitation, and
We don’t need to ask permission when its time for us to leave.
We rise to birth that always ends in death; we come just as we go.
Does the candle shed a tear when the flame goes out?
Don’t be sad, be mindful.