The Great Mystery
Most of us view Death, and Life for that matter, as something to be understood. I know I tried for many years to understand what life and death are all about only to be humbled and confounded again and again. So rather than attempting to understand I try to experience life and death as fully as possible.
Giving the floor to my thoughts I hear, “life and death are occurring in each breath and in each moment.” Or, “life and death are two sides of one coin.” Or, “there is no death, only life and change.” Or any other strings of spoken or written words to snag my attention for further mental exploration. These are only thoughts, ideas, hopes, fears and expectations. Some inspired, some to report personal experience, some to offer solace and comfort to the grieving and suffering.
Does it really matter whether I will die and be gone forever, or live on and on in endless rebirths? Is that really up to me? Are there conditions I must meet in order to reach a goal? I am alive at the moment and at some future moment I will die. What I do with these moments is not driven by fear of the future or what happens after death. Who is this “I” anyway? I have faith in Love, Life, and Death, too.
What makes the most sense to me is to cultivate and tend a peaceful heart and to live in harmony with all of the parts of myself, others and nature as much as I am able. Sometimes I am more able to do this than at other times. But I keep trying.
I feel most alive when I am filled with gratitude for the magnificence of Mother Earth. To feel fresh air on my face, to experience the taste of a freshly picked strawberry, to walk on warm sandy beach heightens my sense of being alive. So does feeling the throbbing pain of a headache, the pain of an incision after surgery, the loss of a loved one, the suffering of emotional pain from trauma, or even the anticipation of loss. Both of these states of awareness indicate that I am alive in this world at this time.
Few things focus the attention like giving birth, feeling Love, pain, suffering and dying. I have given birth, felt Love, pain and suffering and have grieved the death of loved ones. Anticipating my own death does not arouse fear or grief in me at the moment. Who is to say how that might change when I am dying? Having been a hospice volunteer and served people who are dying allowed me to participate in end of life care for people with a short time to live. Hearing their thoughts, witnessing their experience, attending to their caregivers and loved ones, watching the body become still and lifeless normalized death for me to a large degree. But that is a limited experience of death. I have no experience with sudden death, large-scale disastrous death, and violent death. But in the end we all exit this plane in one way or another.
There is a big difference between life and death and living and dying. Life and death are givens. We were born and we will die. It seems useless to fear death; it is inevitable. So is life. Living in this world is dynamic. So is dying. Both conditions offer the invitation to turn toward the great mystery no matter the worldly circumstances. My experience with the Great Mystery is personal and intimate with the Love that created me and which exists outside of time and space. I have choice even if it is between bad and worse. I choose to live in gratitude for being, in awareness of what I am experiencing and in the knowledge that life, death and choice all exist at the same time in each moment. You can choose, too.
May we all choose to be peaceful, may we all choose to live fully, die fully, and live on in the light of our true nature. May we be free from fear, aware of danger, choose Love, Life and Faith. May we attend to suffering, our own and the suffering of others. May we let Love guide our hearts minds and bodies in every moment of living and dying.
For the past 26 years I have taught classes and worked with individuals who are dealing with life transitions, grieving, and healing from trauma.
Written for the On Living and Dying series. If you’d like to be a part of the challenge, find more info here: 365 Days On Living and Dying. But first leave a comment and let Aparna know how you feel about what she said.
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