RE: Rigpa Glimpse of the Day
- Why do we live in such terror of death? Perhaps the deepest reason why we
are afraid of death is that we do not know who we are. We believe in a
personal, unique, and separate identity; but if we dare to examine it, we
find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things
to prop it up: our name, our �biography,� our partners, family, home, job,
friends, credit cards. . . . It is on their fragile and transient support
that we rely for our security. So when they are all taken away, will we have
any idea of who we really are?
We live under an assumed identity, in a neurotic fairy-tale world with no
more reality than the Mock Turtle in Alice in Wonderland. Hypnotized by the
thrill of building, we have raised the houses of our lives on sand.
This world can seem marvelously convincing until death collapses the
illusion and evicts us from our hiding place. And what will happen to us
then if we have no clue of any deeper reality?
Everything that we see around us is seen as it is because we have repeatedly
solidified our experience of inner and outer reality in the same way,
lifetime after lifetime, and this has led to the mistaken assumption that
what we see is objectively real. In fact, as we go further along the
spiritual path, we learn how to work directly with our fixed perceptions.
All our old concepts of the world or of matter or of even ourselves are
purified and dissolved, and an entirely new, what you could call �heavenly�
field of vision and perception opens up. As William Blake said:
If the doors of perception were cleansed
Everything would appear . . . as it is, infinite.
Just as Buddha said that of all the buddhas who attained enlightenment, not
one accomplished it without relying on the master, he also said: �It is only
through devotion, and devotion alone, that you will realize the absolute
So then, it is essential to know what real devotion is. It is not mindless
adoration; it is not abdication of your responsibility to yourself, nor
indiscriminately following of another�s personality or whim. Real devotion
is an unbroken receptivity to the truth. Real devotion is rooted in an awed
and reverent gratitude, but one that is lucid, grounded, and intelligent.
As a Buddhist, I view death as a normal process, a reality that I accept
will occur as long as I remain in this earthly existence. Knowing that I
cannot escape it, I see no point in worrying about it. I tend to think of
death as being like changing your clothes when they are old and worn out,
rather than as some final end. Yet death is unpredictable: We do not know
when or how it will take place. So it is only sensible to take certain
precautions before it actually happens.
THE DALAI LAMA
In the Dzogchen teachings it is said that your View and your posture should
be like a mountain.
Your View is the summation of your whole understanding and insight into the
nature of mind, which you bring to your meditation. So your View translates
into and inspires your posture, expressing the core of your being in the way
Sit, then, as if you were a mountain, with all its unshakable, steadfast
majesty. A mountain is completely relaxed and at ease with itself, however
strong the winds that batter it, however thick the dark clouds that swirl
around its peak.
Sitting like a mountain, let your mind rise and fly and soar.
If this elephant of mind is bound on all sides by the cord of mindfulness,
All fear disappears and complete happiness comes.
All enemies: all the tigers, lions, elephants, bears, serpents (of our emotions);
And all the keepers of hell; the demons and the horrors,
All of these are bound by the mastery of your mind,
And by the taming of that one mind, all are subdued,
Because from the mind are derived all fears and immeasurable sorrows.