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Dying Before You Die


"I'm not afraid to die,

I just don't want to be there when it happens."

Woody Allen

Imagine that you just received the news that you had just one more month to live. How would that revelation effect you? Would you be frightened by the prospect of your life in this physical form coming to an end, or might you use this shocking news as an opportunity to live the next 30 days of your life with joy and abandon? After all, whether it is 30 days or 30 years, death is an experience that is coming for us all. In fact, it is the only inevitability in this life. So, contemplate deeply what you would do if your remaining time on this earth came down to just 30 days?

Though the reality of death is all around us, we can spend our lives trying to ignore, or even avoid, the truth that our time on this mortal plane is limited and finite. Many are even scared to death of death, conjuring all kinds of fantasies that it will be the 'end' of them, as they spend the rest of eternity in a state of oblivion. Yet, as the Buddha and so many other wise sages have pointed out, we can use the reality of death as our greatest teacher, allowing it to remind us that our time on this earth is not forever, and to live our lives with purpose and joy, knowing that every moment is a gift to be appreciated and used for our awakening and growth. Instead of being afraid of our death, we can use it as a constant reminder to be awake now, in this moment. It often seems that, the ones who have the hardest time with death, are the ones who feel that they have not truly lived.

In some sects of Buddhism, one of the practices undertaken by monks is to meditate in graveyards on the immpermance of the body, and to use this knowledge as a reminder of what is important, and why we are here. Through contemplation of our own death we can easily begin to see what is really important in our own lives, and use this knowledge as a way to live fully with presence and joy. In this way, we 'die before we die', embracing the impermanent nature of life, and thereby waking up to the simple truth that all there ever is, is this moment, right Now. In fact, when the time comes for us to leave our bodies, it will be Now, and after the transition has been made, it will still be Now. The river of our life will flow back into the immeasurable sea, where it began in the first place, and will continue to flow as that great river of energy from which all forms arise.

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