I am still blown away by the "unacceptable event" of Christmas day. I say unacceptable because those of us who practice Mindfulness know that you can find acceptance in almost anything, anything except those things like loss, of a job, a loved one, your own life; and then there is a new category. That which you cannot accept, though these too are accepted in their own time.
Life can seem so casual, day after day, year after year, despite the ups and downs of what we cannot predict; almost boring. And yet, your death can, and does stand just inches away. We ignore it, deny that it is there. It simply waits. Does it have an appointed time, or like many events is it just the culmination of many smaller happenings?
And what is the result of our denial? Are we any better for covering our eyes, or is this a contributing factore to our fear, to our hopelessness?
We are taught, in western societies to ignore death, until it sneaks up on us. I remember when my grandfather died. I was maybe eight years old. My father tried to explain that he had "passed away," whatever that means. We went to the reception at my grandmother's house several days later (we had not been allowed to see the body, or go to the funeral; how were we to know that it was true?). The house, unusually, was filled with people, mostly relatives that I did not know. There was laughing, story-telling, many introductions, but no one talked about death, or what happens when we die. Where do we go? If the body is dead, does it go with us, do we even need it? And if it doesn't go, what does? Questions that I had no answer to.
Eastern philosophies see death differently. For one thing they don't ignore it. Rather a core element in all Eastern religions is impermanence. You are born, you live, you die-all celebrated. And they would very emphatically tell you that your are not the body. This has never been so clear to me.
My Tibetan family tell me to live each day with an awareness of impermanence. Death stands beside you like your new best friend. And this knowing eventually brings calm, a sense of peace. It is really quite simple. You walk through another door, one that you have walked through many times before.
May the New Year bring you calm, and peace. There are so many doors that remain. We can walk through them as one.