February 16, 2010

La Muerte

Life is transient. Life, it is not always about you. Life could be about you while, and only while, you are alive. Then everything about you turns to be about death. So let’s talk about Death, since life belongs to you, but Death seems to own you; All of us.

How many people in your circle of people have died? Have any of your closest friends died? Are there any stories you have heard about death? Can you count at least one time that you have been close to dying? What have you learn about death? What have you been taught about death? What does dying means to you? Do you remember any dreams where death people appear? Have you seen any death people? How many experiences you have had that involve Death one way or the other? Are you afraid of Death? Does Death have a meaning to you? Does the idea of Death confuse you? Do you have anybody to talk about it? Do you ever think about Death?

Many questions arise when I think about Death, and I am sure many questions arise when you think about dying.

At the end of it all, after all questions have been asked, the one same question remains as the most valuable to have answered:

Are you ready for it?


It does not have to be serious conversation. Like Ketut, the Balinese medicine man tells Elizabeth Gilbert. “You make serious face like this, you scare away good energy. Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clean away dirty energy. Even smile in your liver. Like Sensei Imetai Henderson advices for good balance in everything related to existence: Laugh and sleep.

So there you are one day in the middle of your thoughts, dreaming, or doing, or saying, or dancing, or walking, or practicing your favourite thing to practice, or in the middle of laundry, or painting, or cooking, or exercising, or sleeping, or giving advice, or making love, or fighting against yourself trying to make or impose your point of view to others. One day, there you are in the middle of life as you know it, and Death decides its time to get in your face and have a moment with you.

When you are the one dying, only you can describe the happening to yourself and others. If you are the one witnessing Death you might feel isolated in a swirling gap where no one around you is making any sense, and somehow your deepest sense of survival comes to the surface and perspective becomes everything.

The same way awareness of life brings understanding and contentment with the whole reality of being alive, the same way awareness about dying, I believe, will bring understanding and contentment about the whole “taboo” reality of Death.

To start with what you learn in school, or at home, at a very young age let’s illustrate it with simplicity: we are born, we grow, we reproduce and then we dye; A very organic natural cycle of life. Then why is it that we choose to live in denial or ignoring the reality of dying? What is it about the concept of Death that creates this denial around it in people’s minds so nobody feels like talking about the fact that our only certain destination established since the very first moment we are born is that we will die. Why is it that family and friends (except a few enlighten ones) do not remind you as you grow up that dying is inevitable, and that it is a beautiful transition that if kept under awareness would bring into our perspective the sacred and most incredible marvellous miracle we experience as a human being: Life; Giving us a sacred point of reference for our own existence, a grounding gift to make the best out of our brief passage through this Earth.

Then, we might not be all walking like zombies in this world of illusion, feeling trapped into its materialism and consumerism habits that constantly distract us from the real search for meaning; we would be reminded constantly how precious is the moment we are in, the people we choose to engage in company, the flowers and the sky; our conversations with each other would be filled with appreciation instead of the confusion that reigns in most conversations this world is having at the moment with each other. Don’t you think?



From The Titeban book of Living and dying: “Perhaps the deepest reason why we are afraid of death is because we do not know who we are. We believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity; but if we dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things to prop it up: our name, our “biography”, our partners, family, home, job, friends, credit cards…it is on their fragile and transient support that we rely for our security. So when they are all taken away, will be have any idea of who we really are?

Without our familiar props, we are faced with just ourselves,a person we do not know, an unnerving stranger with whom we have been living all the time but we never really wanted to meet. Isn’t that why we have tried to fill every  moment of time with noise and activity, however boring or trivial, to ensure that we are never left in silence with this stranger on our own?

And doesn’t this point to something fundamentally tragic about our way of life? We live under an assumed identity, in a neurotic fairy tale world with no more reality than the Mock Turtle in Alice in Wonderland. Hypnotized by the thrill of building, we have raised the houses of our lives on sand. This world can seem marvelously convincing until death collapses the illusion and evicts us from our hiding place. What will happen to us then if we have no clue of any deeper reality?

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