It is useful to meditate on concepts, which we would like to fully realize and understand not just at an intellectual level, but also at a conceptual level. We all understand that we will die, however, we grasp at the notion that we are invincible and will not die until we are very old.
Pema Chodron writes in her book ‘When things fall apart’
‘As the Zen master Shunryu Suzuki Roshi said, life is like getting into a boat that’s just about to sail out to sea and sink. But it’s very hard- no matter how much we hear about it- to believe in our own death. Many spiritual practices try to encourage us to take our death seriously, but it’s amazing how difficult it is to allow it to hit home. The one thing in life that we can really count on is incredibly remote for us all. We don’t go so far as to say ‘No way, I’m not going to die’, because of course, we know that we are. But it definitely will be later. That’s the biggest hope’.
And so because of this, we become truly shocked when we, or someone we love, is diagnosed with a terminal illness and dies. We didn’t expect it just now, we were secretly hoping never to suffer such loss, even though conceptually we knew it would happen to us one day.
To truly understand the concept of death, is to embrace our impermanence and live life in the moment. Living life intentionally in the moment is the best way to be prepared for our inevitable death, because we will find that we have lived our life fully and with purpose and meaning. It also helps us cope with the loss of others in our lives because we understood that it is nature’s way. All people must die. It does not seek to reduce the sadness around the loss of a loved one, we all suffer loss, however, it does not need to be the guiding force of our life.