Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bring Out Your Dead!

Remember in Monty Python's 'Search for the Holy Grail' the scene of 'Bring out your Dead'? Damn hilarious. First time I saw it I laughed so hard my ribs ached.

The scene also reminds me of the old Zen koan of "Who is it that is dragging this corpse?" This koan has stuck in my head for decades...and cause I associate it with Monty Python I laugh when I hear it swirling in my head.

So, Who is it that is really animating us? Who is this 'I' we say moves this corpse? Who is dragging this bag of bones and flesh around?

It is well documented that the the Samurai studied Zen to examine death. They feared death like most people. There are many stories of Samurai being referred to the local Zen priest to face this subject. So, as good warriors, let's do a Death Meditation....and maybe we can find out who is behind this dragging corpse stuff.

For some, when I speak of doing a death meditation, begin to think I am morbid. There is nothing morbid about it. In fact, it is most liberating and eye-opening when approached in the proper manner. *

So give this a go...

Get yourself relaxed, either sitting in a meditative pose or slightly reclined. (You can lie down, but you could drift off to sleep.) Once you feel relaxed imagine yourself in your final moments of life...whatever age you desire...imagine a peaceful death where you have said all of your goodbyes, perhaps even written a death poem capsulizing your life or current level of liberation.

Now, feeeeeel (extra e's intentional) the feelings of letting go and of peace, especially as you see your spirit or soul or consciousness rise above your body. It is important to feel the release and to feel the love and joy of this moment as you merge into oneness with the original source of creation...

Now, anchor this feeling with a physical gesture, ie, touching your thumb and middle finger together on your right hand. Continue to feel the liberation and love as you rediscover your original self. Hold this imagery and emotionalizing for a few moments, then open your eyes and give thanks.

This meditation is to help see how 'death' is not to be feared but to be accepted as an opportunity for liberation and 'knowing' who is dragging this corpse around. Now, the key behind this is to be able to recall the feelings of liberation during your normal waking feeeeel the calmness and joy of being free. This can be done by simpling squeezing your thumb and middle finger together. It should trigger the feelings you desire through the training and association. Just think Pavlov's dogs.

As you do this form of meditation your life begins to unfold in a more peaceful manner as you begin to flow and harmonize more and more with the bouyant and creative force that lives within you. Your life will begin to feel lighter and above all, more joyous. You might even see yourself and the world differently. Your problems might even seem trivial and a smile might begin to radiate from deep within. Who knows.

So, bring out your dead. Perhaps you might even find out who is dragging this corpse around.

Hands palm to palm,

*my psychological/medical disclaimer...if you are experiencing severe depression with suicidal thoughts, please refrain from this meditation and seek professional help...this blog is for educational purposes only.


  1. "Who is it carrying this old corpse?" is a great line indeed.

    I was not aware of this death meditation but I do practice death and more often than not as I am about to go to sleep I imagine a similar process of this being it. Of course always so far without fail waking up again, but one day I may not.

  2. I understand. My 'fear' of doing this meditation was just floating away, but then it felt so good I said, 'oh what the hell...go for it'.

    This particular meditation came to me in a brain fart a while back and has become one of my favorites. I have a few more wrinkles to it for myself and this is sort of a generic version.

  3. Good post! Funny tho', I 'can't stand to sit', and prefer to use solitary practice of kata as my 'death meditation'.

  4. Good idea...Death Kata Shodan, Nidan, etc.

    'Can't stand to sit'...haha...that is funny. Thanks Narda.

  5. Hey . . not so much of the 'old'!

    Hello Shinzen,

    Yes, I love that line "Who is it carrying this old corpse?" And you managed to make me smile whilst engaging my mind in an interesting meditation. I have some experience of similar meditations and I've written a post recently on the subject, although short and to the point:

    What dies? It is not 'I' for 'I' am before form, during form, after form . . into infinity and beyond . . ;-)

  6. Great! I will check out your blogspot.

    Yes, as Buzz Lightyear would say, "To infinity...and beyond!"

  7. Very cool description of your meditative practice. I have had very vivid dreams in the past where I've come face to face with demise and have experienced the kinds of feelings you describe.

    One waking practice that I have found helpful is visualizing and experiencing (as much as possible) the ways in which I could suffer defeat and the real consequences that would occur.

  8. Thanks Matt. Dreams are very powerful. I love the flying ones...without an airplane.

    I'll try your waking sounds like it could lead to some great aha's.