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Death, being aware of the reality of.

In Uncategorized on April 24, 2009 at 7:48 pm


I mentioned Pema Chodron in a previous post, and in our move, I was reintroduced to a set of cards (there are 60) that I bought a few years go, each of which has a little thought for the day on how to cultivate compassion which has a side benefit of cultivating happiness. I put these on my new desk. Each card has a gold front and one fairly cryptic line, as in the first one in the set that says:

“First, train in the preliminaries.”

If you turn the card over, you get Pema’s very succinct and clear commentary. For this one, she says:

“The preliminaries are also known as the four reminders. In your daily life, try to:
(1) Maintain an awareness of the preciousness of human life.
(2) Be aware that the reality that life ends; death comes for everyone.
(3) Recall that whatever you do, whether virtuous or not, has a result; what goes around comes around.
(4) Contemplate that as long as you are too focused on self-importance and too caught up in thinking about how you are good or bad, you will suffer. Obsessing about getting what you want and avoiding what you don’t want does not result in happiness.”

The point in her commentary that struck me when I read it was the one about death. Because I’ve had a lot of prolonged illness in my immediate family, I was never much afraid of death; it always seemed preferable to having some horrible, debilitating disease. And I always thought that I was quite the enlightened genius for feeling so unafraid of it. But since having my daughter, fear of death hangs around at the edges of my consciousness almost all the time. My primal fear is of something happening to my daughter, which is so unimaginable it’s hard to even type. But also I fear something happening to me or my husband. How much we’d miss with her if we were gone and how much harder and sadder her life would be if one of us weren’t here for her. Being reminded that death is inevitable is so difficult now. I know it’s good to be reminded, though. I know it builds strength, like a good set of pushups. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

  1. yes. wow.

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