|Posted by Tony White on December 19, 2012 at 5:00 PM|
My belief, (bear with me) is that we come into this world as a spiritual being in a human body. One of these days we will spiritually withdraw and leave our body behind. There is no escape from this human event. Many would call it birth and death. Others may see it as rebirth and changing form. I lean towards the latter. I do so based on my life experiences, especially during my life saving organ transplants. I was very close to changing form numerous times, and these occasions gave me cause to take a good look at my so called mortality. Central to my investigation was exploring what is ‘death’ and why most of us fear it so.
During my ordeal I was given a book by a friend. It is titled “No Death No Fear” (referred to in a previous Blog), written by a world renowned, humanitarian Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh. Though I am not a practising Buddhist my, theology is explorative so I accepted the gift graciously. The opening page tells this story.
A Zen master is confronted by a group of armed marauders. He did not appear frightened so their captain said, “Don’t you know who I am? I could run my sword through you and not think twice about it.” The Zen master replied, “Don’t you know who I am? You could run your sword through me and I would not think twice about it.” There was no fear in the master of leaving this life behind. Why not?
As I understand it, Buddhists like the Zen master practise dying. I first read about it in another book, the Dalai Lama’s “Little Book of Inner Peace.” Buddhists actually practise changing form. Apparently they do so as physical ‘dying’ is a vital step in our ongoing life process. They believe, as do most other faith traditions, that we somehow go on. (If you have read my book you know what I think about the idea of one life on earth and then lights out!) As such, our actual death or change of form is something for adults to be prepared for. (My take is of course that young children need no practise.) The book spoke to me.How prepared was I for the inevitable? Why deny it? Why not check it out.
As an adult living on borrowed time my ‘practise’ has now become a daily ritual. Though Idon’t follow the Buddhist journey through the ‘stages of death’, daily I do review my life. Is my slate clean? Have I asked for forgiveness for myself? Do I forgive others, all others? Have I tried to be loving, generous, compassionate and of service to others? Do I still clutch onto the 3 great barriers of attachment, anger and ignorance? Do I trust the process of life and‘death’? Can I accept its reality or do I fear it? If so what drives that fear? Is it fear itself? Fear of the unknown? Fear of leaving or losing those I hold dear? Or is it fear of what can physically happen while changing form. Fear of pain? Not breathing? Been there - in the hospital! It can be nasty but it’s impermanent. C’est la vie! (An admitted wussy, I just had to get my jam up. Don’t we all?)
As for manufactured fear? I now pray for the fear mongers who dominate our media for profit and politics with fearful rants of violence, doom and destruction. Turn that around for heaven’s sake. No death, no fear, only love.
Based on my faith heritage, life experience and practise, I now have no fear of where I am heading. I for one am convicted with the belief the next life will be quite wonderful. When the time comes, I hope to be like my grandmother whose last words were, “I am ready now.” In short, I no longer fear death. In fact, it was when I let go of life during my darkest times of illness that the fear subsided and my beliefs kicked in. Since I just– let – it – go and began to trust the process, my life has been much more peaceful. It just works for me. What works for you?
For me, not fearing death is the sure knowledge that death is just a door to go through, a change of costumes for my spirit. I believe I am physically impermanent. The only thing not impermanent is my karma and LOVE. The love I have for others and the love they have for me. I believe that comes through the door with me and that my spirit will always be connected to it, to everyone else’s love. Love Divine! I now look forward with joyful hope to the wonder of an awesome ‘heavenly’ experience and new life when the time is ripe. Et tu?
In the words so beautifully composed in a song by John Michael Talbot:
“Be not afraid, I go before you always, come follow me and I will give you rest.”