May 22 : Remember Our Mortality

Think, therefore, upon seeing and hearing of others’ deaths, “I am no different, death will soon come, its certainty is no doubt, but no certainty as to when. I must say farewell to my body, wealth and friends, but good and bad deeds will follow like shadows. From bad will come the long and unbearable pain of the three lower realms; from good the lighter, happier realms from which to swiftly enter the echelons of awakening.” Know this and think upon it day after day.

People who are dying today think that today they are not going to die. Even if you are terminally ill in the hospital you always think it is not going to be today. It is going to be tomorrow. Or the next day. Or in a week. People do not think, “Oh, it’s going to happen today, and by this evening I won’t be here.” Our ignorance is so thick that we cannot see that possibility.

When we are well and healthy, we do not think, “Well, by this evening I won’t be here.” Strokes, brain aneurysms, heart attacks, car accidents, those things and more happen to other people. Until one day they happen to us.

There is no certainty that none of the above will happen to us because that is exactly the way other people felt before something happened to them. We really do not know.

Here at the Abbey many people contact us when somebody is very ill or when someone has died. Either they want counselling, or they want us to make prayers and offerings, etc on their loved one’s behalf after somebody dies. We hear many stories about how people died. Young people, old people, middle-aged people. It is quite amazing.

Sometimes we hear about the death of an elderly, and we just go, “Oh, well this person is in his 80s or 90s, so that is natural. That is okay.” But from the point of view of the deceased, it was not okay, as he still wants to be alive. In our mind, we may say, “Dying at the age of 80 or 90 makes sense.” Until we think of somebody who we care about is of that age, and then we go, “Oh, 80? 90? That is too young to die. You need to be older to die.” Strange, isn’t it?

Remember that death is certain, the time of death is uncertain, and without remembering death we will not create any virtue. That is the big thing. Remembering our mortality helps us to set our values and priorities and pulls us out of our lethargy and complacency. When we remember our mortality, it wakes us up and asks us to question the meaning of our life.

“365 Gems of Wisdom” e-book is out now!