Okay don’t let the title fool you. I’m in no particular hurry to experience death. But I don’t spend my days fearing it either. I accept it as a part of living, and I have lived an amazing life: bold, out loud and in color. After losing my coach, dear friend and surrogate father this week, I’ve been reflecting on it more.
I gain solace from the Buddhist view of death, which is one of the few faiths that embrace it, rather than fear it. Now of course some may argue with that.
Think of all the silliness of Harold Camping and the followers of his strip mall ministry, last weekend. They view death as a chance for the good stuff (afterlife, nirvana, sitting at their father’s knee, etc.). But I don’t buy that, since their view of afterlife is so predicated on passing the test in their current life.
To me it is a pretty simple equation. Fear based religions inspire fear. Faith-based religions inspire faith. Most people here in the West fear and deny death.
Buddhists believe that we can actually use our life to prepare for death. We can begin every day, right now, to find meaning in our lives; taking every opportunity to change and prepare with peace of mind for death.
Making peace with death is what brings peace in life. If you refuse to accept death while you are alive, you become prisoner of the very aspect of you that has to die. This robs you of the basis of your journey to enlightenment, trapping you in the illusion of permanence; of the continued suffering called samsara.
The real message of Buddhism is one of hope; a belief that if you are prepared, you can experience joy in life and death. Death need not be a defeat, but can be the crowning and most glorious moment of life. But to do that, you have to live today, love today, and grow today.
You up for that?