Working with death

 

Working with death is like working with anything else.

I can visualize my own death sometime in the future and see what comes up. What if I knew I would die in one year, a half year, one month, one week, one day, one hour, one minute, one second? If I make it as vivid and real as possible for myself, what comes up?

I can notice beliefs and stories coming up an take them to inquire later on. I can fully allow and be with emotions, as they are, in a wholehearted and heartfelt way.

I can allow myself to reorganize within this new context of knowing that my death is imminent. How would I live my life differently? What becomes more important? Less important? How can I bring that into my life here and now?

I can do the same with the death of those close to me. I can bring up the memories of people in my life who have died. I can visualize those alive dying in the future.

I can do the same with human civilization, the earth and this universe. I can visualize it all being gone, which it will be – first when my human self dies, and then when it dies.

In all of these cases – visualizing my own death, the death of those close to me, and the death of everything I know and appreciate – I can work with what comes up in the same way. I can notice beliefs coming up and take them to inquiry. I can fully allow and be with emotions in a heartfelt and kind way. I can allow my human self to reorganize within this new context, seeing how priorities and motivations change, and see how I can bring it into daily life.

Daily life offers other opportunities to work with this, such as when death is a theme in the news and movies.

These are all ways of working with death and impermanence within stories.

But there are also ways of working with impermanence outside of stories.

The simplest I have found is to explore impermanence within the sense fields. I bring attention to the sense fields, one at a time, and notice the impermanence there. Each sense fields is flux.

The appearance of permanence is only a mental field overlay of a story of permanence, whether it is an image or discursive thought, or a mental field memory/mimicking of sense fields such as touch or taste.

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