Am thinking about death.
I have enrolled in a course "In the Mirror of Death", which is an introduction to a Tibetan Buddhist understanding of death and dying. The course is inspired by The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche, and is run by Rigpa, an international school of Rinpoche's Nyingma lineage that teaches Tibetan Vajrayana/Tantric Buddhism.
The first evening of the 8-week course started this past Monday, with a modest group of about 14 people, including the two facilitators. We all shared our intentions for taking the course. Some of the people there are aging and shared that they can feel death coming and want to gain wisdom about this. Another person indicated their experience being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and being told they only have a short time left to live. Another had a near-death experience because of an accident.
These are archetypal people, people who, through circumstance, are awakened to a remembrance or commemoration of their mortality. I wonder about who I am in doing this work, feeling the humility of these questions: When I take the space and time to think very seriously about my attitudes and assumptions about death and dying, my very experience of life is fundamentally transformed.
My priorities shift.
Only the things that are important to me are important to me.
Other things may become important to me, and then they will be important to me.
Otherwise, there are few things left to feel self-importance around.
These "ugly" facets of our nature are also seen as the scared antics of little children, with whom we all share a mutual desire to be free from our anxieties and suffering, our needless addictions and spoils of rage... as humans, as living beings.
When I remember these feelings, I remember also the danger of sentimentalism. We are all adults, foolish adults that can be very dangerous with too much power. I cannot use the term "like children" to mean a negative. This is more about an observation of developmental expressions.