While in Norway, I watched a story on people adopting dogs for the two first years of their life. After that, they are trained and work as guide dogs for the blind. According to the people organizing the adoptions, it is less difficult than most think for those adopting the dogs to let them go, because they know they will only have them for two years, and also have had two years to prepare mentally for the separation.
A basic practice in most spiritual traditions is just this: to prepare mentally for the death of oneself and those close to us, to reorganize our worldview in general to align with the impermanence of everything in the world of form, and also see impermanence directly here and now outside of any thoughts.
And this in turn is a part of the basic orientation of any genuine spiritual practice: to align our conscious view with reality, and see, feel and love reality as it is.
A simple way of reorganizing within the reality of death is to imagine the death of ourself or someone close to us in five years time, one year, six months, one month, a week, a day, an hour, a minute.
If I know for certain I will die in a week, what happens? How do I reorganize within that perspective? What becomes more important? Less important? How will I like to live my life? Can I be with the experiences that come up when I imagine that I will die in a week?
And there are also plenty of reminders in daily life to explore this…. The death of friends or relatives. Reports of deaths in the media. Stories on possible flu pandemics wiping out large portions of the world population, which we know will come at some point.
Our days are numbered for each of us, but we don’t know the number. We may think we know the number, through astrology, premonitions or a medical diagnosis, but that too is just a story. The reality of it is that I and anyone else can die any moment, and that I don’t know when it will be.
If I investigate the beliefs that comes up for me around this, what happens? If I fully allow whatever experiences comes up in me around this, what happens?
The second basic practice is to see impermanence directly here and now, outside of the realm of thought. To pay attention to sights, sounds, sensations, tastes, smells, thoughts… seeing how they come and go, living their own life, on their own schedule. The world of form as flux. Everything arising as new, different, fresh. Even a thought with the same content as a previous one, completely and utterly fresh, new, different, itself only.
All of this may lead to another basic practice: If the world of form is in flux, then who or what am I? When I look, what I am don’t seem to come and go, yet everything within the world of form comes and goes… What am I then?
Investigating impermanence in all of these ways… including inquiry into our beliefs around it, being with whatever experiences comes up in us around it, seeing impermanence directly here and now, and exploring what I am if the whole world of form is flux yet what I am does not seem to come and go… is in many ways the royal path to healing and wholeness as who we are, at our human level, and to noticing what we already and always are.