30 Nov 2006 |
Posted by Lama Surya Das | 4 Comments.
I was reading Joan Didion’s marvelous memoir recently, The Year of Magical Thinking, concerning her husband’s death and her daughter’s long and ultimately fatal illness, and reflecting upon death and impermanence, and my own mortality. The last book that moved me so much on this subject was Tuesdays with Morrie.
The historical Buddha himself said: “Death was my guru. It was the Lord of Death that drove me to seek transcendence, enlightenment, deathless nirvana. The contemplation of mortality and transience is the greatest meditation. Death is nothing to fear for those who have lived wisely.” I love to walk alone or with my dog through the old graveyards of New England, where I live, in all the various seasons, and read the tombstone names and dates — Thankful Chapin, Phineas Phillips, Ebenezer Winthrop — and remember that they lived here and have come and gone, just as we do, as I do. This helps me cherish to marvelous gift of my life right now, and to prioritize what really matters the most.
It was my own father’s death in New York City ten years back that affected me the most. It took me years to accept the fact; it felt as if I’d never known life in this world without him. The more I tried to be different, the more I realized I was becoming more like him as I age — nor is that a bad thing. He always remains with me, in spirit. When I do something familial, like taking my nephew to a Yankee or Red Sox game, I feel as if Dad is enjoying it through us.
We are all going to die one day. But who is going to truly Live?