Waking & Sleeping, Living & Dying
Realisation: Waking & Sleeping, Living & Dying
With this moment awake, futher awake to this moment. -stonepeace
I used to have a bad habit of going to bed only when I'm dead tired. It was as if I was reluctant to lose consciousness to the "nothingness" of sleep, as I drain the last iota of my remaining energy to stay awake - to do my seemingly endless personal projects, even if it was just to read a Dharma book I "had to" finish. And because I sleep late, I struggle to pry open my eyes the morning after, waking up just as reluctantly - to the "everythingness" of life. It was somewhat the suffering yet recovering from a hangover of life itself.
One day, it struck me that this can be the story of the existential crisis of my life. If I were to see a day in my life as a single lifetime itself, my unwillingness to go to sleep might reflect my strong craving to stay alive, to want to accomplish so much that is yet to be fulfilled, while my fretting of the coming of day might reflect my tiredness and "phobia" of the possible pointlessness of another round of repetitive rebirth.
But how is it possible that attachment to life can become aversion? The sense of dread dawns in the mornings because I realise I have to go through the mundane routines of life's responsibilities, waking up to the "same old" cycle of stuff I feel obliged to do - wash up, dress up, eat, defecate, read the papers, travel, work, rest... Yet the dread fades away as the day progresses, and morphs into attachment when there is some joy derived in being alive. In the deep of the night, the struggle to stay awake repeats... before my eyelids finally cave in... out of sheer exhaustion. It was crucial that I felt the day was well-lived, as a substantial step towards liberation. But the over-straining was self-defeating, often leading to disappointment.
Perhaps we should learn to let go of "life" when it is time, by learning to graciously and mindfully let it "slip away" every night. Perhaps it will lessen the physical and mental anguish when it is time to truly die. In fact, a more calm and collected mindstate leads to a better rebirth, if any at all. Every day is a rehearsal for our "big day" - for its moment of our departure. Will you leave gracefully? Will your next destination be "nice"? Will you "wake up", be reborn afresh and at ease? Will you be ready to pick up where you left, to master the unfinished lessons of this cyclic existence? Will you not truly grow in spirituality, to make Samsara less repetitive? Will you not begin breaking free? No need to anticipate a new beginning in a future life - rebirth is already happening moment to moment, as you change your mind, as we speak. Restart now! - Shen Shi'an
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