Knocking on Death’s Door
By: Jessica Burnham
Think not disdainfully on death, but look on it with favor, for even death is one of the things that nature wills.
Marcus Aurelius Antonius, Meditations
The notion of death can be perceived in many ways. Kali the Hindu goddess is deemed the bearer of death and destruction. Many fear the idea of death and destruction that Kali embodies, without thinking about how important it is to our life. Without death and destruction our lives would not be a mirror for our evolution at all. We would remain without growth, enlightenment- and nothing would ever end. We would be living Bill Murray’s life as the eternal weather man in the film Groundhog Day, only it probably wouldn’t be quite that funny.
The great thing about Murray’s character in that film, is that he finally gets sick of trying to die and end everything without ever growing and seeing beyond his self centeredness- and realizes that he has this great opportunity to become something worth living for and for others. Would it not be amazing if we could look at our present life as the eternal Groundhog Day? That this life will continue on after our death, only in another form, and we would still experience the same old crap that we currently experience unless we decide to take hold of this amazing gift and use it for the highest good of all sentient beings?
Grace has given many of us experiences that show us how fleeting our current life is, and the wisdom to take heed. We can choose to use this life to its maximum capacity for our growth as evolving beings, and not only change the world in which we live in- but change the world others live in as well.
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. Mahatma Gandhi
This quote by Mahatma Gandhi says it all. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” He certainly did, didn’t he? The thing is, we will live forever and if not in this life, or maybe in the next, we will all experience what we are meant to experience- the understanding that every moment is a moment of dying or ending. Only it is not the way our ego perceives dying. It is the end of something completed, only to give rise to the next step, phase, experience; yielding to us the present moment- a moment without attachment to anything in the past or future.
In my coaching work, we are taught to ask this question- what are you willing to risk or give up in order to accomplish your goal. I often think of this as- what are we willing to end? What pattern or addiction that we are attached to keeps us chained to our monkey mind’s demands- and does not provide opportunity for growth and evolution?
In Buddhism, they teach a lot about attachment. I was sitting on a plane returning home after visiting family for the holidays. I was reading a book about anger by Thubten Chodron, a Buddhist nun, and I looked over at my significant other wanting affection. I gave him affection- hoping for some in return and it was not granted. I felt bad inside, but didn’t say anything. Then I looked at my book and began reading again. I immediately came to a paragraph about attachment to relationships, and how they feed an expectation for affection. I laughed inside at how amazing the universe delivers these little tidbits when we need them most.
I chose to look inside myself and say- it is time for me to give up this attachment to this personal relationship, and all others. I can love without attaching my expectations and desires to this person. I made the choice for this addiction to end. And hopefully it will not carry over into the next life, if I can continue with my dedication to let go of my mind’s attachment. It is our attachment that makes death appear so daunting. If we were not attached to anything around us, then the idea of death would seem very simple- wouldn’t it? The fear of destruction would end- because change would be okay.
Think about it- this psychology- the fear of ending the fear of something ending. I know that sounds confusing at first- but it is a reality. How many of us really are afraid of ending the attachment to what fear does for us? What does your fear do for you? How does it give you the opportunity to hold onto things that you’ve outgrown? It is like having a co-dependant relationship with your inner demon. This co-dependant relationship is what creates our perceptual hell. Many people are afraid of death, because they don’t know what will happen after they die. But the truth is, we never know what will happen from moment to moment. All we can do is continue our evolution by letting go of our attachment to the fear of the unknown, what some people call death or destruction.