Every Saturday, I send out this special post with a few ideas I am reading and thinking about. Plus, a question I am meditating on.
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Book I’m Reading – With the End in Mind
I never saw Papa reading a book. Yes, he read a lot of magazines and stuff online, but I don’t remember when I saw him with a book to read the last time. So I was surprised when I found out about this book he started reading some time back, recommended by my doctor friend who was treating him.
The book is titled With the End in Mind: Dying, Death and the Wisdom in the Age of Denial , written by Dr. Kathryn Mannix who has spent her medical career working with people who have incurable, advances illnesses. The book contains stories about the process of dying and makes a compelling case for the therapeutic power of approaching death not with fear but with openness, clarity, and understanding.
Papa highlighted a few passages, and here are the ones that give me comfort because I know he read them and found them valuable in his own journey of approaching death –
A lot of what is written in the book happened with Papa in his last few days, which eases my pain a bit knowing that he was somewhat prepared for what was coming, and thus was at peace.
Knowing that he never read books, I never imagined that I would get to keep one as a memory of Papa. It was the first book he read in many years and the last he read ever. And that makes it super special to me.
Thought I’m Meditating On
I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive. ~ Joseph Campbell
A Question for You
Meditation on mortality (that we are going to die one day) is one of the oldest practices in all Buddhist traditions. In the words of the Buddha, “…of all the footprints, that of the elephant is supreme. Similarly, of all mindfulness meditation, that on death is supreme.”
But why should we contemplate our own death while we are still alive?
“It cures you,” the Bhutanese say. Not just the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures, even Stoicism talks about Memento Mori that is the practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.
Now, the thing about meditating on your own mortality is that it doesn’t make life pointless. Instead, knowing that you will die one day creates priority and thinking about it helps you live with a more positive perspective. So you can focus on what’s important.
Death is, however, a subject mostly shunned by our cultures and societies. Nothing explains this resistance better than what the American actor and comedian Woody Allen said in one of his movies, “It’s not that I’m afraid of dying; it’s just that I don’t want to be there when it happens.”
So my question to you is — Are you meditating on your mortality in some way? If yes, what have you experienced? If no, when are you starting?
Enjoy your weekend,