Saturday, May 2, 2009

You are going to die!


Yes, you are going to die! Someday. It is inevitable.

To study Budo and Zen is to study the very nature of Life and Death. In many Zen temples across the world this topic is written across their doors. If you do not want to examine death, don't come in. Did you know the leading cause of death in the world is life? Yep. Life...it's a killer! You can't have one without the other. I know some of you might think this is a morbid topic, but actually it is not. It is about reality and seeing clearly.

Buddha, when asked ''What is the true nature of man?" responded with, "the nature of man is to grow old, get sick and die". It is just a fact. For me, meditation upon death gives me life...it wakes me up. To view death as depressing and morbid is to live in delusion. None of us really know what happens after 'we' die. It is only speculation and faith, impressions and ideas. We only fear death because we are attached to life. Dogen Zenji, the founder of Soto Zen, talked about 'dropping mind and body'. Part of this is non-attaching to the ego-self and this body.

As Budoka it is imperative that we remain mindful of our daily activities, whether it is working, taking a piss, or weeding the garden. It may sound funny, but really, Life is a Killer. You must pay attention to it as if it is an armed assassin waiting to kill you with his sword and dagger. Every moment is not only an opportunity to live, but to die as well. Meditation upon death and mindfulness of life's activities actually enriches your life...and eventually your death. This is the warrior way.

As you cannot have life without death, we cannot also have death without life. After you die...well...death is also the leading cause of life. When a tomato seed is planted into the ground it 'dies' but grows into life as beautiful tomatoes.

I know I might be rambling but the burritos that 'died' last evening after I ate them have given life to these ideas this morning...and perhaps a little flatulence...but you probably didn't need to know that. So, pay attention to your life...right know...as you are reading this where are you, what are you feeling, what you are thinking? Be here now. As the good nuns taught me, we do not know the time or hour of our death...pay attention!

Some good reading on this subject I recommend, Warrior Zen: The Diamond Hard Wisdom of Shosan Suzuki and Thich Nhat Han's book, No Death, No Fear. Good reading for the martial artist. I also recommend going to a cemetary to do some meditation. I grew up with my backyard connected to a cemetary. It was my playground and meditation ground. I would wander and look at gravestones and wonder who all these people were and the lives they led. I recommend this type of contemplation.

A good warrior studies death and pays attention to life.

Enough ramblings from those burritos.

Hands palm to palm,

Shinzen

5 comments:

  1. "Warrior Zen..." was a good read. If anyone is interested in a more detailed study of Shosan there is also 'Death was His Koan' by Winston King.

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  2. Thanks for the info Narda. I will check it out.

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  3. Many people don't truly pay attention to these things, apprehension and fear of the unknown, rooted in aversion to that which they find disagreeable.
    It is in the Warrior to accept what is disagreeable and to face it head on.

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  4. You wrote: Meditation upon death and mindfulness of life's activities actually enriches your life...and eventually your death.So well said. It's so wonderful to have the tool of mindfulness to get away from obsessing about the moment of death. As you mention, it is locked into our path so why fret over it? Better to enjoy each moment for what it is and spend this time absorbing it all and learning to let go of our fears of death. We know that death is but a blink of an eye.

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  5. Thanks for the comment and validation.

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