Befriending death

 

Michael Dowd’s most recent blog post reminded me of the gifts of death.

Death at all levels allows for something else to arise. The death of individuals allows for new individuals. Death of species allows for new species. Death of ecosystems allows for the emergence of new ecosystems. Death of stars allows for solar systems.

My existence as a human being is made possible through the death of individuals – both humans and nonhuman. Without the death of individuals, the earth would quickly fill up. And the death of plants and sometimes animals is what makes my life possible right now. My existence is made possible through the death of species – without the death of the vast majority of species that have existed, most of the species here today wouldn’t be here. My existence is made possible through the death of stars and the heavier elements created and dispersed through this death.

This is one way to befriend death, and a very important one.

Another is to find death here now – death of experience. When I bring attention to any of the sense fields – sensation, sight, sound, taste, smell, thought – I see that whatever appears is gone as soon as it shows itself. It’s all very ephemeral. Here too, death makes life possible. The death of one experience allows for the next. The slate is wiped clean and written on continuously.

Yet another is to image I will die in a year, a month, a week, a day, an hour, a minute, right now. When I make this as vivid as I can for myself, what happens? Is there a reorganization of my view, feelings and draw to certain actions in the world? How would I like to live my life? How does my priorities change? How is it to image – vividly – that I die here now? What happens?

And then more questions…..

Is it OK if I die here now?

Does fear come up? What happens when I resist this fear? How is it to befriend it?

What’s not OK about dying now? What stories do I have saying it’s not OK? What do I find when I inquire into these stories?

Some of my stories:

I still have more to do.

I can’t die now.

Dying now is wrong.

Something terrible will happen if I die.

Death means something terrible happened.

Death is terrible.

Death is wrong.

– o –

Death is wrong.

True?

Yes, it feels true.

Sure?

No. It feels true, but that’s only one perspective.

What happens when I take that story as true?

I experience death as wrong.

I feel that death is wrong.

I have stories saying death is wrong.

I experience dread, terror.

Tension. Muscles contract, especially in calves, chest, shoulders and jaws.

What am I afraid would happen if I didn’t believe that thought?

Hm. I would face death and welcome it instead of resisting it. I wouldn’t brace myself. I wouldn’t resist.

Would it help to resist?

No. Not when it’s here. It comes anyway.

Who would I be without it?

Curious about death. Interested.

Welcoming when it’s here.

Turnarounds

Death is not wrong.

Death just is. Right and wrong are human interpretations.

I say death is wrong. Death still is. Who am I to argue with reality?

Death is right.

Yes, death allows for something new as mentioned above.

Death is. Existence sees death as right.

Also, there is something good in death from our conventional human perspective. It’s a release, relief, an end – also of suffering. That’s how it looks, at least.

Life is wrong.

Hm. If I believe death is wrong, then life is wrong too since they are two sides of the same coin.

Life as we know it – organisms, ecosystems, a living planet – could not exist without death.

My thinking is wrong.

Yes, about death.

I find that taking death as wrong, is itself wrong. It’s clearly wrong.

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