The Cook Awakening

Dying to Live

December 20, 2016
Posted in: Events, Life on Life's Terms, Living Into Death, Meditation

With all the urgency and polarized emotions in the world now, how can we contemplate doing “personal work”? Isn’t spending time coming to terms with our eventual death some kind of navel gazing? Wouldn’t that be a distraction from what’s really important right now? We have to DO something!

I’ll be honest, after the election I just couldn’t think much about my business, about getting the word out about the Your Year to Live group starting in January, and my counseling practice. It somehow felt trivial compared to the needs of the larger world. I felt paralyzed.

There is beauty in the obstacles

There is beauty in the obstacles

As I wrestled with a mounting anxiety in my body, I turned more and more to the spiritual practices that have been core to my life for 25 years. The practices I teach in Your Year to Live. Meditation. Radical honesty. Saying YES to whatever is, even when it feels intolerable.

I realized that finding the courage to contemplate death is actually vital in these times. Not because I think the changing state of the world is going to hasten death (although it may for some, let’s be honest), but because the fear of death can grip us, subtly or obviously, and prevent us from acting with integrity. And, because not knowing how to work with fear and anger skillfully can lead to action in the world that may not get the results you are hoping for.

It’s important to do this work because we become freer to act from our heart with clarity.

It’s important to do this work because it gets easier to face hard truths when we approach facing the hardest truth we may ever know. That we, and everyone we love, will someday die.

When you are ready to die, you are ready to live. Stephen Jenkinson is fond of saying in various ways that it is death that gives life meaning.

The best activism comes from people whose lives are saturated with meaning. They are clear about what is important, and they are clear about what is NOT important. Clarity is powerful. Think: Ghandi. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Dalai Lama.

In Tibetan Vajrayana traditions, meditation sessions are always closed with what’s called a Dedication of Merit. This is how I end Your Year to Live sessions as well. “May any merit accrued by the work we have done here benefit all sentient beings, in all times, in all realms. May all beings be safe. May all beings be happy. May all be at peace. May all experience awakening.”

The question then changes from “How can I focus on doing this very personal work?” to “How can I NOT?” Doing this work frees you to be more effective about what really matters to you.

We practice not just for ourselves. We practice for all beings. Never doubt the power of spiritual practice. I have seen it transform what seemed to be impossible suffering to peace and ease.

You can have that in your life. And, you can spread it throughout your world.

For more information, go here.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 20th, 2016 at 4:44 pm and is filed under Events, Life on Life's Terms, Living Into Death, Meditation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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