This week we will look at the second and only other slogan in section 4 – practicing in one’s whole life. This slogan teaches us to apply the Five Strengths (Determination, Familiarization, Seed of Virtue, Reproach and Aspiration) at the moment of death. As hard as it is to remember to be mindful on a good day, it may seem near impossible to expect someone to remember the Five Strengths at the moment of their death. This would certainly be true if we continue to avoid the idea of death.
This practice, however, is rooted in the fundamental truths of suffering and impermanence. What aspect of being human brings us more suffering than the reality of our own impermanence. In truth, the more intimate we become with death the less suffering we will experience around the idea of it’s truth. My trust in this wisdom does not come from having been close to actual death. It comes from my actual experience of intimacy with suffering emotionally, physically and mentally. I have less fear of anxiety now because I have been truly up close and personal with it such that it has lost it’s sting.
This week we will explore how to get up close and personal with our own demise. According to Trungpa Rinpoche, death is an important part of practice. It’s going to happen sooner or later. We willingly practice with all aspects of suffering in life. Although we cannot prepare for the actual moment, we can prepare for its reality by practicing with the Five Strengths in both life and realization of death. What do you think it would mean to your life if you spent time contemplating on the realness and inevitability of your death rather than obsessing over ways to prolong your life? How do we balance this with practicing for the cultivation of loving-kindness and wellbeing? It’s that just another way of prolonging life? See you tomorrow:)