I’ve recently been drawn once again to the teaching of the Buddha. There is something so pure and practical about the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, especially lessons from the Rimpoches, who are considered incarnate lamas. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, is known as Gyalwa Rinpoche.
I listened to a lesson about life and death narrated by Gelek Rimpoche. He made a beautiful analogy about how we contain Earth’s elements within our material body. He described the bones and flesh as Earth, the metabolism and digestive systems as fire, the blood and fluids as water, and our breath as the air and wind. I was entranced by his poetic description of the living body mentioned.
Then, he described how these elements drift and pass as the material body dies. First, the Earth element (bones and body) cannot move. The Fire element begins to flicker until it goes out. The water element ceases, dehydrates, or dries up, such as the dry lips of the mouth when the person is passing, and then finally the air or breathing stops, and that is the end.
When described in this fashion, death doesn’t seem so terrible. It becomes more tangible and understandable when one mentions “the cycle of life.” It helps clarify and give a fresh perspective of what oneness is. It reminds us of how transient life is and taps us on the shoulder, asking the questions, “Are you living life to the fullest? Do you cherish all that you have regardless of circumstances?”
I’m not one to contemplate death, though I believe it should be part of our daily practice to take note of our impermanence. It’s valuable to recognize how fleeting life is. True, we have many ups and downs, sidewinders, free falls, etc. Sometimes it feels like we never catch a break and can’t see all the good surrounding us. It is there. Take note of your now and remember to express appreciation for all that is.