Saturday, May 26, 2007

To learn to die and grieve

A concept in Buddhism and other religions is to "learn to die before you die," meaning to accept the temporariness of your life, after which you learn to live without fear of death and loss. If you have already come to terms with the finite nature of your life, then the rest is to simply live it well. The illusion that one's life will go on endlessly often creates an inertia against doing the things that are the most important now.

In a related sense, it is also possible to grieve what you love before you lose it, after which you learn to live without fear of loss. The idea that something valuable will cease one day causes endless torment, grief, and suffering: "How long will I be with the person I love?", "When will my children outgrow me?", "Will I lose my house? [or job, car, etc.]".

The best balm to attachment, whether to one's life or the things or people in one's life, is to imagine that they have already ended, to grieve and accept their loss in advance, and to live as if they have already passed. The reality is that they will all end one day, at the latest upon one's own death. With this mindset, there is a freedom to appreciate, to love, and to experience the passing of things with a sense of peace, along with gratitude that they are still present for today.

What do you have in your life that you can practice as if they had ended?

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