"Mindfulness and Meditation allow us to open our hearts, relax our bodies, and clear our minds enough to experience the vast, mysterious, sacred reality of life directly. With Practice we come to know for ourselves that eternity is available in each moment.

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call:
Musings on Life and Practice
by a Longtime Student of Meditation

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

The Final Frontier

Stephen Levine    July 17, 1937 - January 17, 201
At the Moment
I remain forever grateful for the good fortune to have attended a Conscious Living Conscious Dying retreat with the late Stephen Levine and his Beloved Ondrea in the late 1980's.  Under their wise and skillful guidance, a gathering of 300 people became a community of healing at Mt. Madonna Center near Watsonville, CA.  (About a third of us were in the later stages of terminal illness, a third of us were their loved ones, and a third, like me, were interested in the emerging hospice field.)  Over the course of five days and nights, we were guided through a set of understandings, experiences, and individual and transpersonal meditations that began a transformation in my life and practice that continues to this day.
With COVID humming "Knocking on Heaven's Door" in my ear, I've made another deep dive into the insights, and practices of the Tibetan Book of the Dead through an on-line course with Andrew Holecek, a brilliant American teacher in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.  And, as an inveterate bookworm, I've got a stack of books and notebooks, old and new, that I've begun to pour through. 

More importantly, (they say that practice is more important than study in the Lojong trainings), I've begun to be a bit more earnest about practicing for my deathbed. (Realizing full well that I may walk out in front of a bus or stroke out instead. Who's to know? LOL)

As well as re-engaging the We Croak app on my iPhone that a dharmabuddhy turned me onto a while back, (it sends me a "death reminder" five times a day,) I found the perfect combination of pillows to support this old arthritic frame so that I can lay comfortably in Shavasana.  Several times each 24 hours, weaving it into the nocturnal and nap time meditations I began several years ago as I explored lucid dreaming, and Tibetan sleep and dream yogas, I am learning the moves of my own deathbed dissolution dance. 

Although the worldview and imagery of the Tibetan Book of the Dead have been interesting and helpful, I also realize that I have entered in this incarnation as a 20th century American.  I have a genetic, spiritual, and cultural legacy that comes with a different set of symbols and systems of belief as well.  I also have the works and wisdom of Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Thomas Merton, Martin Luther King, Jr, Alan Watts, Stephen Gaskin, and a heavenly host of other saints, seers and sages to draw on.  Although the nerd in me will keep my head in the books, with my body on the line, I trust my heart to lead the way. 

I certainly have no immediate plans to exit the stage, mind you. I'm in no rush. I love this sometimes tragic, sometimes comedic, mystery with all its plot twists and turns of phrase. I love the wild and wiggly cast of characters that have appeared to share in its many scenes.

Yet, at this point, I'm well aware that I've got many more yesterdays in my back pocket than tomorrows. I 'd like to face the final curtain call with a clear mind, a full and open heart -- and a deep bow.  I'm willing to spend some time and effort to up the odds of being able to do just that.

I blame the Practice for that.

1 comment:

Jennie Ladew-Duncan said...

Thank you for sharing, Lance.