All these deaths. And that’s not counting all the people we hear of through friends and prayer groups, and all the people who died in recent floods and other natural disasters all over the world. I wondered if anything positive could be taken from this display of mortality.
Of course I am not alone here. It happens to all of us. All of us who are born are going to die, we just don’t know when or how. We mostly live our lives, particularly when we are young, pushing this fact aside and trying to ignore it to the best of our ability. In western society in particular, it is considered not a subject to be talked about, as if it is somehow “wrong” to die. We cling to life desperately; we hear of people’s lives “being saved”. We say “I thought I was going to die”, as if now, we’re not going to die at all. Somehow we find it distasteful to face this inevitable fact.
There is nothing that has been put together that isn’t going to fall apart. There has been no-one who has been alive in the past who has not died, and no-one alive today who will not die and although it sounds strange, the sooner we begin to live with this knowledge every day, the happier we will be.
What all these deaths did (and another dear friend I heard of while writing this today) was to bring home more strongly the importance of living every moment joyfully and fruitfully.
There is not much use in planning a future that might not include me. It is also not much use reflecting on the past, and wishing it might have been otherwise, or remaining resentful about what someone “did to me”, because this will not change what was, and is no more.
The best way to live my life is to focus on being present for every second that passes. To actually live each moment of this precious life, instead of dreaming it away in past and future contemplations, is rewarding and astonishingly free. When I can manage this, I find that I don’t have stories attached to what someone might say or do – I simply react in the moment, appropriately. And perhaps surprisingly, I find I can accomplish so much more at work, at
home, at study, at everything. Without all the distractions of a chattering, wandering mind, I am clear, present and focused.
When I take the time to sit quietly with myself and watch my thoughts I realise that they have no substance and are not worth chasing or clinging to; they just come and go like clouds drifting across the sky. If I neither judge them nor expand them, they simply dissolve.
Taking a short time in every day to sit and meditate quietly is the best medicine, the best joy, the best activity I can do. It brings me clarity, peace, happiness and calm. We should all try it – it would make a better world.
This post was written by Lynda Geppert who lives in Narooma on the far south coast of NSW; She has been a buddhist most of her life. She is a freelance writer and editor (mostly retired now) and spends most of her time running a small organization called the Ta Yang Guardians created to support firstly a monastery, then also a nunnery, and now helping the entire small town of Vasser, in Golok, in Tibet.