I know I will die, but I’m still worried about it

Apr 25, 2022

 

QUESTION

 

Hello Ven. Robina,

 

I hope this email finds you well. 

 

I’m writing to you because I’m struggling and thought you might be able to point me in the right direction.

 

I am going through an intense period of awareness of the finiteness of life and inevitability of the passing of time. And I am struggling to come to a sense of peace around this.

 

Intellectually, I can grasp impermanence. I can see my attachment and ego grasping. But I cannot shift my understanding from intellect into a sense of peace…and it’s driving me a little nuts.

 

Any advice you could offer re meditation, teachings etc would be much appreciated. Also, any thoughts on how you have navigated this (if it has ever come up for you) would be most welcome.

 

As always, thank you for the opportunity to touch base with you along the path. So much appreciated. May you be well and happy.

 

Much love,

A

 

ANSWER

 

Happy to hear from you, dearest A!

 

I understand well what you’re saying. The grasping at a sense of a permanent self is pretty intense and the second we get just a whiff of impermanence, we have a panic attack!

 

You could say that that is good. Because at least you’re seeing the reality that you are impermanent, that you are moving towards death. It’s a fact!

 

So what to think about this? That’s the key, isn’t it? How to think about it, how to approach it.

 

Well, if you’re a Christian, let’s say, it would renew your faith in God and your wish to go to heaven when you die, and then you’d strengthen your practice.

 

So, here we are as Buddhists. We accept, let’s say, that our mind will continue to another rebirth. We accept the law of karma: that we are in charge of our own future. 

 

If that’s so, then we know we want at least another decent human rebirth after we die.

 

That means we’d better start right now renewing our practice of the causes of a good rebirth: good ethics: not killing, stealing, lying, etc., etc., in particular within the framework of living in vows of good ethics. And then doing some purification practice every day.

 

That’s it, A! That’s the conclusion. Fear of the unknown is the cause of so much suffering. But know what to do, how to act: that alleviates the fear. 

 

In other words, realizing we’re impermanent is good, but just that is not enough. We need to then think, okay, what’s the action? What to do about it? Answer: I’d better create all the appropriate causes and conditions for a happy death and a good rebirth. It’s in our own hands. That’s the part that surprises us, but that, as we know, is the view of karma: we’re in charge. 

 

Action gives courage.

 

I would highly recommend you get Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s excellent book — digital or paperback — called How to Face Death Without Fear. It’s full of good advice.

 

What do you think, A?

 

Love to you,

Robina

 

QUESTION

 

I do have Lama Zopa’s book which, in all honesty, I started then my brain freaked out a bit. But I do fully agree with renewing the practice. And I’ll admit, my formal practice and study has been lax. But I think my efforts at bringing what I know into daily life are somewhat solid.

 

I have a number of rescue animals that I care for…and they have mantra said over them every morning as well. In fact, most of my practice is centered toward non-human sentient beings as I feel they have no voice. 

 

But I will redouble my efforts re teachings and meditations. Thank goodness for YouTube. Hopefully, with time, my understanding will move from merely intellect into something more conducive to peace. I try to remind myself that today is all we have…tomorrow is unknown.

 

To repeat myself, thank you so much for allowing me to stay in touch. Being so far from a center, it’s so beneficial to touch base with wise teachers. It is much appreciated. I do hope I get to see you again soon.

 

Much love,

A

 

ANSWER

 

Amazing that you’re taking care of those precious animals, A! Such a special practice.

 

Again, remember: the key point is action: what can I do? Answer: take charge, create the causes for our own future. We get this in ordinary life but not when it comes to a next life – we’re not used to thinking like that!

 

Just keep moving, that’s all we can do, isn’t it?

 

Much love,

Robina

 

QUESTION

 

Thank you for your reply and sound advice as always Ven. Robina.

 

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