May 8      

Today's quotation:

Death is not the enemy of life, but its friend, for it is the knowledge that our years are limited which makes them so precious.  It is the truth that time is but lent to us which makes us, at our best, look upon our years as a trust handed into our temporary keeping.

Joshua Loth Liebman

Today's Meditation:

I often wonder why we see death as such a terrible thing.  Most of us see it as moving on to something better, so why do we say things like "It's such a shame that he died so early"?  I understand that it's something that hurts us because we miss his company, but if we truly feel that he's moved on to heaven, then where's the tragedy for him?  In many cultures, there's no tragedy at all-- we mourn as survivors because we loved the person, but we recognize that everyone has a time to go, and that comes at different ages for all people.

Of course, I don't want to be cold and callous about death, for it definitely is a loss for those of us left behind.  But I also don't want to be afraid of it, to do everything I can to avoid it or put it off; if I did that, I'd lock myself in my home all the time and never go outside again.  If I have a healthy perspective on death, then I'll know that my day will come eventually, and my task on this planet is to do all that I can to contribute to the welfare and well-being of the other people with whom I have contact here before it does.

I want to use my knowledge of death as a catalyst for doing all the good I can do and enjoying all I can while I'm here.  If I thought I were immortal, then I could put things off indefinitely and never expect myself to take risks or face challenges.  I would know that I'll have plenty of chances to encourage that person, to contribute to the lives of others, to do good, so I could put it off and focus on just myself for now.  I wouldn't stop to enjoy the sunset because I know that there will be another one tomorrow, next week, next year.

I don't want to hurry death, and I'm not going to act irresponsibly in ways that will cause me to die early.  But I am going to think about death, think about the end of my life, because I want to be ready for death when it gets here.  And the only way that I know to be ready is to get all I can out of life while I'm here, so that I won't be facing tons of regrets when my time to leave arrives.

Questions to consider:

Why do so many of us fear death so much?

How can acknowledging the fact that we're mortal and that we will die, help us to live today?

What kinds of things can you do today that will make death less of an unwelcome event?

For further thought:

An awareness of death enables us to live each day each moment-- filled with appreciation for the  unique opportunity we have to create something of our time on earth.  I believe that in order to enjoy true happiness, we should live each moment as if it were our last.  Today will never return.  We may speak of the past or of the future, but the only reality we have is that of this present instant.  And confronting the reality of death actually enables us to bring unlimited creativity, courage and joy into each instant of our lives.

Daisaku Ikeda
Buddhism Day by Day

more on death



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