You are going on a trip….the biggest trip of your life. You are leaving very soon. Have you made arrangements?
Time is running out….stop mucking around…have you purchased the ticket for the flight? Do you have your bags packed yet? Made arrangements for someone to get you to the airport? And do you know what flight you are on, and even where you are going?
Welcome to dying….the death of this body! We should be prepared at all times, have our bags packed and know which aircraft and flight we are on. But who even thinks about this and knows how to get ready?
(Inspired by talks by Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa)
Make your way through this impermanent, transitory life in whatever way you can, keeping the goal of worshiping the Lord foremost in your minds.
Don’t abandon this goal, even in the face of hundreds of dangers, insults, or persecutions.” Shrila Bhaktisiddanta Sarasvati Thakur 1874-1937
When I was young I would often lie in bed and before sleep overcame me, I thought a lot about my existence and wondered who I was. Often the walls of my bedroom seemed to close in on me and I felt imprisoned, or I felt very small and the walls were miles away. We lived in the country, and sometimes I would go out at night, lie on the grass, and look at the vastness of the universe – how insignificant I felt!
At such times I would contemplate about death: what would happen when I died or, as I know more correctly now, when my body died?
It seemed to me that there were 2 possibilities: when I died there was either nothingness; or as Lord Jesus taught, if we love Him, we can go to the Supreme Father. Any another possibility I did not want to contemplate!
Many of us feel we’ve been ‘wronged’ at times in life by others, and we harbor these feelings sometimes for many decades. Such things can tear families apart, tear friends apart, and sometimes tear nations apart.
We all know that at some time these bodies are going to die. I think the longest recorded age for someone in modern times is about 122 years, and if we make it to 100 it is a huge achievement! But we usually put this to the back of our minds and get on with life. What cancer does is make it so the concept of death is always there, always there at the front of your mind.
Every waking moment for the first few weeks when I was first diagnosed with cancer, I was thinking of death and dying. Usually when you are facing some adversity in your life you can get some reprieve when you sleep, but I found even when I managed to get to sleep I dreamt of death! Sometimes I’d be in a semi conscious state and trying to sleep, but with re-occurring thoughts of death it was often impossible.
The online and print newspapers have been full of reports and tributes to Muhammad Ali following his death yesterday. My local newspaper, the Brisbane Courier Mail, attributed a quote to him:
“I think maybe my Parkinson’s disease is God’s way of reminding me what is important”.
I can relate to that.
I quote from the same newspaper:
“Ali’s daughter Hana last night described her father’s final moments: “We all tried to stay strong and whispered in his ear, ‘You can go now. We will be OK. We love you. Thank You. You can go back to God now.’ All of us were hugging and kissing him and holding his hands, chanting the Islamic prayer.”