Published Friday, 16 September 2016
The King of Death cannot find
those who look upon the world
as insubstantial, as transient, a bubble -
illusory, only a mirage.
Dhammapada v. 170
The Buddha gave us a great gift when he invited us to look directly at death. Within all cultures, throughout all ages, human beings have adopted strategies for avoiding the perception of their mortality. Fortunately for us, we don't have to rely upon consoling messages aimed at numbing ourselves against the pain of loss. Our Teacher has offered specific, practical instructions on how to build the strengths needed to face reality. All the suggestions for contemplation on impermanence, uncertainty, instability, are aimed at helping us loosen habits of clinging. When the heart truly knows how to let go with wisdom, it won't be overwhelmed by fear and dread. Because we trust that it is possible to live free from all fear, we gently encourage ourselves to welcome uncomfortable feelings; we learn to see those feelings as pointing in the direction of clarity and true peace.