We need to guide ourselves through life based upon the knowledge that we will die.
This isn’t something exclusive to humans. All animals know that death is a part of life. They see it constantly. In a funny way, humans are less aware of death than their lower species counterparts.
In the wild, it’s kill or be killed.
In society, it’s ignore the finite nature of life until the day you're on your deathbed, struggling against the inevitable.
But if you’re aware of your own mortality, then you have an opportunity to live a more fulfilled life.
This is assuming you don’t get bogged down by this knowledge.
As morbid as this (obviously) seems (and is), it can actually be quite a liberating experience to fully recognize the fact that one day, you will die.
It’s a freeing exercise to simulate your own death; to feel what it would be like to actually let go and fade out from life itself.
Have you ever tried this?
I recommend it.
The Buddha said that we should be thinking about our own death with every in-breath and every out-breath.
He doesn’t strike us as a particularly negative person, does he?
See, we all know the truth of our eventual expiration. However, we don’t typically like to dwell on that fact.
Kick the can down the road until the bill collector finally calls to get what he’s owed:
You’ve borrowed it all this time, now you have to give it back.
We all know this. Why do we ignore it?
Well, it’s pretty hard to fully accept the end of you. After all, you’ve spent a lifetime developing and nurturing this you who you supposedly are.
But what if you’re more than you?
The you who seems to be you is only a fraction of yourself.
There’s an infinite aspect of your being that hovers beyond the obvious physicality of your daily experience.
The way of the warrior springs from the knowledge that death is ever looming. This allows one to absorb the moment necessary to regard the dewdrops clinging to those glorious flower petals.
Or truly hear the lovely songs of the fluttering birds.
There is astounding beauty surrounding us at all times. Keeping our mortality in mind helps give these moments greater depth. If we could live forever, we could easily squander a couple of eons away just laying on the couch binging every show that’s ever existed.
Conversely, we could also travel to every country on Earth and experience each type of culture that exists.
But what would you do after that?
After a while, I imagine it would get pretty bland. Death is a blessing that seems like a curse at first glance. We can easily ask, “Why bother living if we’re only going to die?”
Nothing lasts forever. Except diamonds, maybe. But even they will be scattered across the universe when the sun blows up or we destroy the planet in a gravity bomb explosion.
Actually, I think that would be an implosion, so the diamonds would be pulled into a black hole and perhaps get transported to an alternate reality where diamonds are worn by slaves because of their inherent lack of value.
You get my meaning, hopefully. All things come and go. The tide rolls in, and then it rolls out. We inhale, then exhale. The acorn grows into an oak tree which blooms new leaves that eventually wither. The dead leaves fall to the ground, which rot away and turn to compost. This makes the soil rich for the falling acorns to flourish.
And the cycle begins all over again.
We are all tied to this cycle. Each moment comes into being, fades away, and makes room for the next. Our lives are like this. We are born, fade away, and others take our place. Some believe we are reincarnated, others believe we live forever beyond the physical realm.
No matter what you believe, we are constantly coming and going.
When you finish a day of hard work, you long for the chance to sleep. I would imagine that we feel much the same after a life of hard work. I can only hope that when the time comes, I feel a sense of relief. Gone are the hardships, no longer will I have to struggle out of bed and face another day of difficulties and distractions.
Upon crossing over to the other side, I believe we merge with the one consciousness of the universe. At that moment, we know all things simultaneously. We become enveloped in infinite love and bliss for an indeterminable amount of “time”, then, based on the actions we take during our time on Earth, we’re faced with some choices of viable bodies to enter back into.
If we lived a life of virtue, then we have better opportunities for the next life. This may also include being entered into lower animal life forms if we so choose.
This is all theoretical absurdity when putting it down in the written word. Nobody knows what happens next. Ultimately, that’s the key to living a good life. We don’t know what lies beyond this life, so it’s critical to make the best of what cannot be argued:
This life, right here before us, is all we can truly count on.
Let’s make it a good one.
Want to know when I drop my next piece?