There are two reflections that I find the most important when trying to shift our perception of the world. The importance of turning our focus away from the daily drama, unfulfilled expectations, and moment by moment obstacles that are unrelenting despite our desperate desire to dominate or destroy them, and toward a recognition of how fortunate we are, how precious our life is and how the challenges and difficulties we face are essential signposts that guide us toward our greater self and our purpose in life. Two reflections that the good doctor Buddha prescribed which can help in this understanding are “how fortunate we are” and “death and impermanence”. The “how fortunate we are” meditation helps open our eyes to the great bounty that we are surrounded and supported by and the unprecedented opportunities and riches that we often take for granted. The “death and impermanence” meditation helps connect us to the undeniable truth of our own inevitable demise, the fragility of life, and in doing so, the preciousness of each living moment.
I am a huge fan of Michael Meade and recommend that everyone read him to help understand the vital importance of myth in our culture in order to gain clarity and give guidance as we live our lives. The following is from Fate and Destiny: Two Agreements of the Soul that I highly recommend reading. Here he speaks about death and how it is so important that we recognize it in our culture in order to help shape our lives and give them meaning. Enjoy.
“Something of great meaning has been lost as modern cultures seem to forget the unique nature of each person and deny the role of death in the meaning of life. It is not just that people go to great extremes to prolong life at any cost, but also that most have an extreme fear of death and a wish to deny it altogether. Death is only admitted when the bodily functions fail and there is finally no alternative left but to give up on life. Unfortunately, when death is diminished, life loses some of its natural dignity and sense of inner purpose. Many people die without dignity because something essential about life has been forgotten and death has lost its dignified place in life’s mortal drama.”
“Having lost its natural connection to fate and its secret ties to destiny, death has become nothing but a failure of life. Yet, death is not the simple opposite and mortal enemy of life; rather it is the opposite of birth, and a full life includes more than one brush with death. All who receive the wondrous gift of life must also bear the burden of mortality. Since life includes death, an exaggerated fear of death can only lead to a growing fear of life. Those who avoid death at any cost will also fail to live life fully. In the end, the issue isn’t that life fails us and death claims us, the more common tragedy involves a failure to face up to one’s fate in life and live the life seeded in one’s soul.”