Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Thinking about death...

In the days between Christmas and new year's I attended Sogyal
Rinpoche's annual retreat in Kirchheim, Germany. This year's theme was
death and dying. It was very powerful to receive and contemplate
teachings on such a topic. I think those teachings are particularly
poignant when you are young, because we tend to so professionally ban
death out of our lives here in the West. And yet, it is true that
death can happen at any moment. I often think of the accident I had
this Summer where I was hit by a car while I was biking. How easily
could it have turned out differently, and would I not have been able
to tell you the story... And as Sogyal Rinpoche often says, how do you
know that you will even wake up again tomorrow? Even young people die
sometimes. Just... randomly. You never know. For me remembering death
really makes me appreciate life, how lucky I am to be alive in good
circumstances. But more importantly, it helps me think about what I
want to do with my life. I notice that often I think that the most
meaningful things I do will happen in the future because right now I
am still learning. But what if there is no future? Then we'll have to
do with what is now, and what counts is whether we were kind to that
person we encountered on the bus, or whether we were pushing that
person aside because she was in our way and we needed to get
somewhere. Really every moment counts.

Another realization from that retreat was the idea that really, we
don't need to cram every moment with activity. If we take a moment to
rest in what is, that is the greatest teaching. Because when we die, we'll
enter into the bardos and if
we're not able to rest in what is, then we'll have an agonizing
time. Yet if you're young and ambitious like me, you have a tendency
to want to make everything either productive or fun, and you'll avoid
those gaps. So my reminder slogan has become "don't forget the gaps!"

1 comment:

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