A healthy relationship with Death
How often do you contemplate passing on? Whether we appreciate it or not, we are all just one step away from death. In our culture, it seems to me that death has been so glamorised, fantasised and above all sanitised, that we've buried its true meaning under mountains of conditioning. It's either surrealised for Hollywood movies or pushed under the carpet of drug-induced, idealistic health-service longevity. It causes people to fear it, to deny or to ignore it. Paradoxically, such activity takes away the true meaning of life itself. It constrains and limits us. However, when we can constantly embrace the close proximity of death, without fearing it, I've discovered it's an incredible liberation. It sets us free to accept the moment fully, as it is, and to soar on the out-stretched wings of empowerment...
The blade edge of life
We've just been watching episodes of "The Human Planet", have you seen it yet? It is an amazing BBC documentary about how indigenous cultures survive in some of the most extreme conditions and environments across the planet. One episode stood out for me the most: a tribe living in the heart of the Sahara Desert, where water of course is so incredibly precious. It felt like they were living continually on the blade edge of life. Eyes wide in wonder, we watched as a small party of women set out on a typical three-day journey across the barren wilderness in search of a small well just a metre or so across. Within a vast sea of endlessly shifting sands, navigation is supremely tough and yet without compass, they must be as precise as a Swiss watch.
The desert's timeless accuracy is unforgiving, get it slightly wrong and you die. And what amazed me most, was that for the final 10 hour leg of this arduous journey, the leading lady handed responsibility over to her 10 year old daughter! Evolution's fine attunement had taught the tribe perfectly, yet even as they found the well with seeming effortlessness, there was still an evidently palpable sense of relief and joy spread across beaming faces. Can you imagine just what that must feel like? How incredibly real that is? The sense of accomplishment must touch deep inside the soul.
Getting to what's really real
On the workshops that we do here at Openhand, when trying to figure out what the soul is inviting of us, I'll sometimes get people to contemplate what's the worst possible thing that can happen from a particular choice. When death is truly contemplated and confronted, what we may perceive as truly necessary in our lives or vitally important, frequently falls away. In such a state - when fully embraced - it can cause you to connect 100% with what is going on right now in this moment. Fears or worries in life are ready to dissipate: getting paid, uprooting location, the responsibility of a job, what friends and family think of you, they can all vanish like an illusionary desert mirage. You're putting your hand right through the canvass of life into what's really real.
There is nothing else going on in that moment but the inner exploration of life and death, of everything and nothing, of not-being coming into being. And that is the polarity that defines every action in life anyway, so why not rest in the confrontation of it and feel what that actually means? I've discovered that when we can continually do this, then authentic action - that which is not distorted by the mind's meaningless meanderings - arises much more easily.
The serenity of death's inevitable proximity
Most of us are just not aware in day-to-day living how close the hand of death is. It can come for us at any time, in a myriad of different ways. It is an absolute unavoidable aspect of our reality. It is more real than most things we tend to engage our lives with, and yet by living within its inevitable proximity, can unleash enormous freedom of action - pure power. As the engulfing flames of flapping and fear subside, an incredible serenity emerges from their ashes. The cacophony of life's seemingly endless noise silences. The moment expands to infinity and in this place, anything can happen. We're completely liberated to follow the truth of the moment. We can more easily give up the need for the moment to be a particular way. We don't need to placate anyone. The yoke of responsibility and obligation slip from ones shoulders. We find we can master any desire, conditioned want or illusionary need. We find we can more easily pare all this away, bringing us right into what really matters in this moment - what matters to the soul. No more dream holidays, abundant materialism or trying to manifest illusionary realities. Their tissue thin insignificance dissolves in truth's glaring spotlight. We're left with absolute simplicity, a smile from shining eyes, a water droplet softly running down the skin, a cool breeze stroking your face, evening stars cosily caressing our expansiveness. Simple things that truly touch the soul.
Simplicity through the complexity
And when we're in this space of absolute serenity, I find we can exist through the complexity of modern day living and still locate the simple perfection of the moment. Complexity's garment rustles to the ground. Simplicity is eruditely revealed, naked in her surrendered femininity, supremely sensitive to the truth laid bare.
To me, this is what living is all about. It means we can more easily follow Right Action - that in tune with our soul, aligned with the natural organising energy of the universe. I believe this is the reason the Dalai Lama suggests we 'meditate' on death daily. So have you contemplated your death recently? Have you done it today? Have you gone deeply inwards and explored the outer boundaries of your life, poked your finger through the constraining canvass and broken out into absolute eternal presence?
If not, then perhaps it's time to keep exploring, to keep dropping into the reality of the moment because in truth, there really is nothing else. This then, is how a continual confrontation of death can bring us oh so much closer to life.
In loving support
(Publishers - please publish with links intact and the Openhand brief biog. Thankyou <3)
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