Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Posted this on Zen Forum International in response to a question about "death," and thought I would post it here as well:

Voyager -- Everyone meditates on death. This is because they meditate on what is alive and compelling. It may sound spooky or pessimistic (in The Dhammapada, Gautama was reported to have said, "All fear dying./All fear death."), but really, the more you investigate this moment, this life, the more natural it becomes ... this moment is gone (or dead, if you like) before anyone can get a handle on it. Simultaneously, of course, something new is born. Every moment is like this ... it's just up to us to bring our minds into accord with what happens all the time.

Intellectually or emotionally, this is easier said than done. But in practice, it happens without any real effort ... just like birth, just like death: Things begin (so to speak) and they end (so to speak). Emotion and intellect can never comprehend or be at ease with this flow, but Zen students can.

Just my take.


1 comment:

  1. Out of all the ancient greek philosophers Epicurus would have to be my favourite (probably because he is the most Buddha-like in his thinking). I especially like Epicurus' take on death:

    "Accustom yourself to believing that death is nothing to us, for good and evil imply the capacity for sensation, and death is the privation of all sentience; therefore a correct understanding that death is nothing to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable, not by adding to life a limitless time, but by taking away the yearning after immortality. For life has no terrors for him who has thoroughly understood that there are no terrors for him in ceasing to live. Foolish, therefore, is the man who says that he fears death, not because it will pain when it comes, but because it pains in the prospect. Whatever causes no annoyance when it is present, causes only a groundless pain in the expectation. Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not. It is nothing, then, either to the living or to the dead, for with the living it is not and the dead exist no longer."

    - Letter to Menoeceus