Probably nothing breaks me open so completely as death. It’s a mystery the mind cannot grasp but does gradually get used to.
Two dear ones in my life died in the past two weeks, one an 83-yo dharma friend, and the other my 21-yo nephew. They both died unexpectedly in the woods and mountains, doing activities they loved.
I have all the usual broken open grief sensations: shock, disbelief, can’t breathe, immobilization, inward flooding until there comes the mercy of some kind of numbness that sets in temporarily. And then the mind remembers ‘he’s dead’ and the whole cycle starts again. Lots of crying as well as the impulse to contract and resist the next wave.
But instead of resisting I find comfort in the contemplative practices I have done for so many decades. There are many different kinds of practices but basically they all invite being present and aware Now. Now is where all suffering ceases.
So, near dawn another dharma friend and I climb a wooded mountain park nearby. I set up a tiny Buddha and a photo of each deceased. The ceremony takes over as I hold both men and all sentient beings in my heart, bow, then kneel on the cushion. Many feelings arise as one great surging throb. From practice, awareness knows to relax and gently hold these feelings. Doing this, time stops.
There is only Now.
Now seeing pre-sunrise light glow,
Now hearing bird songs,
Now feeling mosquito pierce skin,
Now feeling friend’s stillness,
Now knowing shared noble silence,
Now seeing deceased photos,
Now thinking of death,
Now hearing many bird songs,
Now thinking of nephew,
Now see sun rise,
Now feeling peace,
Now feeling peace,
Now walking down mountain,
Now seeing morning light through trees,
Now smiling and feeling peace,
Now feeling gratitude for training to embrace each Now.
Without resistance, all that is Now–sorrow, joy, pain, pleasure, etc.–flows through us with ease. As we embrace Now, we experience peace. May all beings feel the Peace of Now.