Sadly recently I have had to farewell family and friends who are dear to me. Their passing has taken me by surprise despite having studied Buddhism and 'death awareness'!
I used to not want to bring awareness to death, as I felt it was morbid and something I really did not want to think much about. I now understand that is important, as it helps me be realistic and make the most of each day and my precious life. It also helps me to appreciate others and not take them for granted.
My abbreviated understanding of Buddhist ideas related to death include these 3 premises.................
1. Death is Certain.
Death happens to all of us. When we think back over all those people we have known who are no longer with us, this brings this reality home. It is not helpful to bury our head in the sand regarding this as it prevents us from making the most of each day.
2. Time of death is uncertain
I know I want to believe that if I live a healthy life I will somehow guarantee living a long life. While it is certainly good to do your best to live a healthy and happy life there are no guarantees that it will prolong our life into old age or the average life expectancy. As we know there are many ways our life can end, including sickness and accident, the time of these events is beyond our control.
3. What will matter when I die?
I believe the answer to this questions is - how I have lived my life. So, if we do our best to live a good life that is all we need to do. For me the definition of a 'good life' is to do my best to practice kindness to myself and others. To do my best to live a kind, ethical life and be a positive force in the world.
I recently saw a billboard advertising bourbon which expressed this sentiment. It read 'Happy hour is short. Use it wisely'.
Lama Marut has a helpful, practical recommendation for factoring both this awareness of death, and appreciation for life into a morning practice. He calls it the two part morning loll.
So his recommendation on waking is to think about two things
1. Gratitude for all those people and things that make our life possible. As the mug above reminds us 'start each day with a grateful heart'. This is a great way to start the day as it uplifts our mind. We certainly have lots to be grateful for.
2. The second is to contemplate that this may be your last day and to make the most of each precious moment of it. If it really was our last day (and who knows if it is or is not) we would not waste it being unkind, unforgiving, resentful or harming others or ourselves.
I look forward to connecting again next fortnight
Kind regards, best wishes and love