I recently had the the news that my life-span will be cut short. I am committed to enjoying every moment of every day, and to being the longest surviving IPF patient.
Looking Mr D squarely in the face is vital but I’m not going to play chess with him, as in a certain Ingmar Bergman film, nor will I Iet him spoil any flash of beauty that comes my way. I acknowledge that the minute, hour and day is set – so be it. (As it is for everyone - but we manage to ignore the fact most of the time.) But today is the first day of a shorter life as much as it is the first day of the rest of the life of anyone with a century to live – so let me breathe in all it’s truth, beauty & goodness!
Fortunately I had discovered the ‘secret of the universe, the ‘secret of all secrets’ a few years ago. I suppose I’m not certain what I should do with it other than try to live up, in some measure, to the challenge that it brings – the challenge of closing the gap between theory & practice! Closing the gap is to ‘Die before you die’ as contemporary Sufi master Sheikh Kabir Helminski reminds us (Chap 22 in his book Living Presence)
The important death is the death, or diminution, of the egoistic lower self in favour of living in the presence of the Self. Here are some of my favourite inspiring quotations that bring together aspects of the two kinds of death:
“Zen in its essence is the art of seeing into the nature of one’s own being, and it points the way from bondage to freedom. By making us drink right from the fountain of life it liberates us from all the yokes under which we finite beings are usually suffering in this world.” D T Suzuki
Another Zen Master in providing a summary of Zen Buddhism said, “No self, no problem.” (Such divine brevity!)
Lao-tzu said, “Embrace death with your whole heart.”
Socrates said, “Practice death.”
“Those who sense the wonder, share in the wonder.” A J Heschel
“What does it matter Oh my Lord if I never meet you – I am already annihilated.” – Sufi
FROM THE BAHA’I ‘MASTER’ - ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
A friend asked: “How should one look forward to death?” 96
‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered: “How does one look forward to the goal of any journey? With hope and with expectation. It is even so with the end of this earthly journey. In the next world, man will find himself freed from many of the disabilities under which he now suffers. Those who have passed on through death, have a sphere of their own. It is not removed from ours; their work, the work of the Kingdom, is ours; but it is sanctified from what we call ‘time and place.’ Time with us is measured by the sun. When there is no more sunrise, and no more sunset, that kind of time does not exist for man. Those who have ascended have different attributes from those who are still on earth, yet there is no real separation.
“In prayer there is a mingling of station, a mingling of condition. Pray for them as they pray for you! When you do not know it, and are in a receptive attitude, they are able to make suggestions to you, if you are in difficulty. This sometimes happens in sleep. but there is no phenomenal intercourse! That which seems like phenomenal intercourse has another explanation.” The questioner exclaimed; “But I have heard a voice!” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “Yes, that is possible; we hear voices clearly in dreams. It is not with the physical ear that you heard; the spirit of those that have passed on are freed from sense-life, and do not use physical means. It is not possible to put these great matters into human words; the language of man is the language of children, and man’s explanation often leads astray.” 97
Someone present asked how it was that in prayer and meditation the heart often turns with instinctive appeal to some friend who has passed into the next life.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered: “It is a law of God’s creation that the weak should lean upon the strong. Those to whom you turn may be the mediators of God’s power to you, even as when on earth. But it is the One Holy Spirit that strengthens all men.” Hereupon another friend referred to the communing of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah; and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “The faithful are ever sustained by the presence of the Supreme Concourse. In the Supreme Concourse are Jesus, and Moses, and Elijah, and Bahá’u’lláh, and other supreme Souls: there, also, are the martyrs.”
When asked about the individual persistence of the animal’s personality after death, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “Even the most developed dog has not the immortal soul of the man; yet the dog is perfect in its own place. You do not quarrel with a rose-tree because it cannot sing!” SOURCE http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/ABL/abl-52.html
One theme that cuts across death and death of the ego is reality as in the is-ness of things – don’t quarrel with a rose-tree because it can’t sing!
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