Did you see this in the Eagle Peak Annual?
If you missed it, here’s some snippets. Perspectives on the Eternity of Life–and a Remembrance is one of six articles featured in the Eagle Peak Annual, September 2019.
The words in the graphic sum up the major point of this article—living with the inevitability of death. And doing it successfully! In other words—happily and fearlessly with purpose, despite the certainty of your eventual demise. You can find this quotation–and other encouraging bits of wisdom here.
We all will die someday. How we live our lives will make a difference on what happens thereafter. Heaven, hell, rebirth–your faith and your choice. If nothing else, a life lived well offers an easier death and good memories of you by others.
Here’s a nutshell excerpted from the article:
Death: As Victor Hugo said, “We are all under sentence of death, but with a sort of indefinite reprieve.” Do you give it much thought? Most people don’t–until a serious illness strikes, or they lose a loved one.
Many of the world’s religions and philosophies focus on what happens after you die. They promise a hereafter—an eternal life in heaven—OR rebirth. They don’t let you off the hook entirely. That eternal life comes with a price—living your life according to some precepts or guidelines.
A Buddhist perspective on eternal life: You won’t remember a thing, but you will have do-overs. A new body and mind with the same core entity—karma included. In other words, you start over where you left off, in karmic terms.
Whatever worldview you may have, living with the inevitability of death is a reality. Whether you practice an organized religion or not, there is a point to considering how you live YOUR life. We will explain.
And a remembrance: Recently, a friend of 35 years died, surrounded by friends and loved ones. He lived a full and happy life. He created value. He shared the joy of Buddhism with countless others. He left unafraid of the death that will supply a rest before another rebirth.
As a doctor and professor of neurology, Oliver Sacks knew much of death. He was also an accomplished author. Awakenings, a book about treating of patients awakening from sleep after decades, was made into a movie. When he faced a diagnosis of terminal cancer, Sacks penned an op ed piece in the New York Times February 2015. It says, in part:
I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can.
Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.
On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.
Still more excerpts from the Annual:
Apropos of Sacks’ expressions, Daisaku Ikeda has said,
Ideally, we should live every minute of our lives valuably, as if it were the last moment of our lives. Those who live aimlessly are left with a sense of emptiness at the end of their lives, but those who live all-out, striving right to the end, will die peacefully.
Leonardo da Vinci says, ‘As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, a life well used brings happy death.’
One aware that death could come at any time will live each day to the fullest.
Today, I find much to agree with in the words of Sacks and Ikeda. That didn’t come for several years after my years in Vietnam. My fears of death were short-lived and only episodic in Vietnam. I saw no death while there. What I did see and experience corrupted my youth. Along with Watergate, the war shattered my illusions about America.
To reclaim my virtue and ideals, I began a quest to reform the people or institutions that failed me. I learned much along the way, during my college years—despite the interruption of classes for protests against the war.
Some years later, I realized that reforming myself and not changing others is the means for attaining happiness and for making the world a better place. Yes, Sacks and Ikeda have it right.
Waiting for Westmoreland chronicles my path from Vietnam to Enlightenment. It takes a book to do that. A few excerpts can’t do that. But please read them anyway—and maybe the book.