My co-worker Bruce posted a note from his mother's notebook that contains a comforting understanding of grief. "Each death gets harder to bear, not easier, and the pain and grief begins to extend to partings as well. But it now seems to me that that's precisely what being good at handling death is." Go read the entire thing.
I've been carrying around with me for a few months a little book of Rumi's poetry. I copied out this one:
Everyone is Dying Everyone in the world, whether man or woman is dying and continually passing through the agony of death. Regard their words as the final injunctions which a father gives his son. In this way consideration and compassion may grow in your heart, and the root of hatred and jealousy may be cut away. Look upon your kinsman with that intention, that your heart may burn with pity for his death agony. Everything that is coming will come: consider your friend to be already in the throes of death, losing his life. If selfish motives prevent you from this insight, cast them from your heart; and if you cannot cast them out, don't stand inertly in incapacity: know that with every one who feels incapable, there is a godly Incapacitator. Incapacity is a chain laid upon you: you must open your eye to behold the One who lays the chain.I'm not sure who this "incapacitator" is. A friend of mine says it is the ego. But I don't understand the why ego something to deny. I am both singly me and part of the big divine, both. A point and a wave. This is the central theme of all my spiritual exploration. This is what I tattoed on my forearms when I was just 23. A few days ago I was doing a mindless project and listening to Alan Watt's podcasts ("The Coincidence of Opposites"). I heard him say something that I have heard him say many times before, but this time, I heard it in a new way. Summarized: Any experience that we have through our senses is a vibration. And the vibration has two aspects. One called on. And the other called off. Life is a system of now-you-see-it, now-you-don't. Vibrations are waves. Nobody ever saw troughs without crests or crests without waves. We don't encounter in life a coin with heads but no tails. Although the crests and troughs, and heads and tails, and positives and negatives are different, they are at the same time one. Existence is constituted by both being and non-being. And if we forget this, then we get scared. I heard this sort of talk years ago and have struggled to understand it all through my long science education which enriched it and helped me understand that it wasn't something that I had to learn or believe in, but was proved to me time and time again with all the scientific apparatus I gained mastery of. And it wasn't something that I had to believe as a witch, because it was observable in all of my experiences. My struggle was about "me" and "not me." "not me" was something that would happen in a distant future, after I had ceased to be "me" and I may or may not be aware that I was "not me." But last week as I heard his words again, I realized that it is "not me" existing right now that makes me "me" and together that is my existence. And then I understood what is meant by "walking with death" and "making friends with death," and the meaning of the tale told in the last Harry Potter book about the "Deathly Hallows." (not a spoiler). It is my death, like standing wave inside me right now which makes me alive as much as me, right now, alive --the trough to that wave. It's not happening in the future, it is happening now, just as life is happening one. Life and death are together in all time and space. There is no death at a future time. There's nothing to be afraid of then, because Death is already here. That's what the poems mean. Death is different from life, and perhaps I don't understand its nature, but it is as intimate with me right now as whatever it is that is that makes me alive right now. Ah, it is so difficult to write such things. They all have been said and written so many times before.
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