There is only one thing you can count on fully and unquestionably: at a certain point in time – and you never know when it will be – it could be in decades, it could be in seconds - you are going to divest yourself of this present body and all the activities, events, experiences, memories, relationships, achievements, possessions, hopes, fears and dramas associated with it. Myths of physical immortality notwithstanding, no one has ever avoided this. It’s evidently a well tried and tested system and seeing as no one has ever come back the other way to complain about it, we must assume it’s perfectly safe and as it’s meant to be. If we wish, we can even assume it’s a wonderful experience as the spirit is set free of the constrictions of the physical realm.
However, we spend huge amounts of energy and time attempting to escape it, attempting to pretend it isn’t going to happen, attempting to distract ourselves by becoming so engrossed in the everyday world, we think that’s more real and powerful than death. But we all know it isn’t - nothing is more powerful. Instead of fighting it, avoiding it or distracting yourself from it, train yourself to start embracing it. Start making friends with it. See it as a benign entity rather than an enemy.
That way, rather than spending your life in denial, masking the existential dread of it, you walk in peace along the path, knowing that at the end of it, your friend awaits to free your spirit for the next phase of its journey whatever that might be and in whatever form – no one knows for sure. This isn’t to say you’ll ever stop being afraid of it, just that along with the fear, there’ll be a growing sense of peace and surrender.
Once you’ve surrendered to the reality of death, you automatically surrender to the reality of life. Knowing this is all going to stop one day anyway, you understand you have nothing to lose by living your life’s adventure to the full.
It sets you free to grow as large as can possibly be. You can still distract yourself with the games of the world but are no longer fooled into believing them to be the reason for living and so stop taking so seriously whether you’re winning or losing.
The Taoists say that when you die, nothing happens.
This is ambiguous. On the one hand, it means everything stops, at least as far as you’re concerned, this you you’ve become habituated to believing in. On the other hand, it means, that for your immortal spirit, that aspect of you that’s been bearing witness to your soul’s journey, lifetime, after lifetime, after lifetime, when you drop the body, you find yourself where you actually always were all the while: in the eternal now.
Just a few moments contemplation on your own mortality, once a day, to honour your friend is enough to help you retain perspective while you dance in the world of the ten thousand things and to remind you of the extreme preciousness of each and every moment you have and of all moments shared with those you love.
My wish: that you get it and value each moment of this miracle so fully, you waste not a single nanosecond today feeling even the slightest bit blue.