Monday, August 14, 2006

I Practice for my death

Buddhist practice guides you to mindfully observe the present moment. Mindfulness leads to an inevitable recognition of the impermanent quality of reality. Most times you realize you cannot influence the variety of circumstances that create change. Some times you are one of many causes of change. On other occasions you can only recognize pain, feel compassion for the suffering caused by impermanence and the resistance to the change impermanence introduces.

This war has scrambled my life into uncertainty. Not only were we forced to abandon our plans for the summer vacation, but also many of the beliefs that constitute what I consider to be 'me', are being shattered by every falling missile.

The one certainty in life is death. War has brought death into my home: the realistic possibility of death by a lethal rocket, the loss of plans and beliefs, the stories of dead soldiers and wounded civilians, the live images of the havoc and destruction sowing suffering everywhere, the death of the identity I thought was 'me'.

The meditation bell is often called "a bell of mindfulness". The various tones of the gong bring me back to the present moment, yanking my attention out of the constant babble of the mind.

But now there's no meditation bell, there's only the sound of the alarm.

Every cry of the alarm is a call for mindfulness. Without the comfort of a meditation cushion, without the protective environment of a retreat, this is a practice of naked insight: fear rising with the tangible possibility of death or injury, anger developing into wild rage against those who disrupt my life, who seek to destroy my children, an inner cry against the terrible suffering taking place right here, right there, right now.

During the first Vipassana retreat I participated in, the teacher told us she practices for her death. Never has this plain declaration with its embedded ideas been more palpable than now.

In some remote future I cannot perceive right now, this might crystallize into a clear insight.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Karen,
metta ~ thank you for reminding me to quiet the mind in all circumstances... and to indeed prepare for leaving this body.

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Keren said...

I think the ability to quiet the mind in all circumstances is really the main thing. I doubt my ability to do so without the previous years of formal practice. I do believe that to practice for one's death is a way of seeing dukkha clearly. Not as a concept, but as a palpable reality.

May we all be free of inner and outer suffering.

8:42 PM  

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