I read something this morning, a post on a Buddhist discussion board, that prompted me to approach my formal practice with a renewed sense of urgency. In short, the person who posted asked the utterly simple and ridiculously important question “What to do when I’m dying?” I have had a preoccupation with death (my own and those around me) for as long as I can remember and although I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say our entire practice is about preparing for this inevitable moment, I do believe it is the best measure and ultimate crucible of it.
So, as I asked myself how I would approach the moment of death and considered the replies that the question elicited on the board I realized that one good way to prepare would be to bring the imminence of death into my meditation not as the theme but as a back drop and perception to inform my efforts and curb my mind. By using the mind to fabricate the perception of my last moments when the mind slipped off the breath I found that I was much less likely to slip off and away and came back more quickly. Of course, anicca vata sankhara holds true for all phenomena and by the end I found myself beginning to doubt the perception of death and even questioning its efficacy. All of which is not to say it wasn’t useful oor that I wouldn’t experiment with meditating on the breath and imagining that I am breathing my last. If anything, the descent into confusion and doubt towards the end of the sit seems indicative of a mind that is tiring and needs to be more consistently excericised.
My apologies for rambling and I thank any and all who read this for their indulgence. Vivere disce cogita mori. May we all live by the light of death and taste true happiness in this very life!