Gripped by Mortality

Gripped by Mortality (8)

Posted by on Jun 10, 2014 in Gripped by Mortality | 1 comment

Gripped by Mortality (8)

Some concluding remarks for this series of posts on keeping our mortality in our consciousness. Each of us has been given the gift of birth. Each of us has been given an inevitable death. That is an inescapable truth. It is reality as reality is. When we keep it in mind, we align our lives with capital “R” Reality. And as we’ve seen in this series of posts, our lives go better when we align with Reality. Each of us comes from dust. And each of us returns to the same. Everything we touch, everything we experience, everything we possess – is impermanent. The world we live in works hard to help...

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Gripped by Mortality (1)

Posted by on Apr 22, 2014 in Gripped by Mortality | 4 comments

Gripped by Mortality (1)

I was sitting at a stoplight recently as a very long funeral procession drove by; hearse, family car, and a long line of cars with lights on. It took a while for the procession to go by, so I had a moment to reflect. As I sat there, a John Donne quote came to mind I’d had cause to reference some weeks before: No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . . [A]ny man’s death diminishes me, because I am [connected to] mankind . . . [N]ever ask for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” Hold that picture in your mind —...

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Gripped by Mortality (2)

Posted by on Apr 29, 2014 in Gripped by Mortality | 9 comments

Gripped by Mortality (2)

Last week, I told a story about sitting at a stoplight while a long funeral procession drove by. It happened at a moment I was particularly aware of my own mortality. So I’ve been thinking a lot about the impermanence of life. This week’s post, is something of a book report. It’s a book most sane people never need to read – almost 400 pages of pretty dense writing. I let my kindle read it to me while I was on the treadmill over the course of a couple of months. Even so, it made a pretty deep impact on me. Ernest Becker won the Pulitzer prize in 1974 for the book, The Denial of Death. In it,...

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Gripped by Mortality (3)

Posted by on May 6, 2014 in Gripped by Mortality | 2 comments

Gripped by Mortality (3)

The bell tolls for each of us (first post). True. But most of us find the idea pretty distasteful and try to keep it out of our conscious awareness. People dying at home, for example, makes us too uncomfortable, so when we see death coming, we have professionals handle it for us. They keep it clinical, disconnected from our daily lives. That’s how our culture handles Becker’s dilemma (last post). However, the spiritual tradition is rich with encouragement to keep consciousness of our own deaths, not in the background of awareness, but right up front. Twenty five hundred years ago, the Greeks...

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Gripped by Mortality (4)

Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Gripped by Mortality | 2 comments

Gripped by Mortality (4)

We saw in last week’s post that the Greeks issued a warning to us 2500 years ago. “Don’t forget your mortality,” they said. “Don’t hide from the inevitability of your own death. If you do, you’ll end up chasing things that cannot sustain you – things that will eat you from the inside out with anxiety, fret, and concern.” Interestingly, both Jesus and the Buddha taught the same thing. This week we’ll think about the Buddha, next week, Jesus. The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism center on waking up to our own mortality. Truth 1: Suffering is part of life. Get used to...

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Gripped by Mortality (5)

Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Gripped by Mortality | 2 comments

Gripped by Mortality (5)

In the last few posts, we’ve seen that both Greeks and Buddhists are unanimous in advising spiritual seekers not to lose sight of the inevitability of their own deaths. “Good for the soul,” they say. In these next few posts, we’ll see that Jesus taught the same thing.  To introduce Jesus’ teachings, today’s post is a personal story. Hold it in your mind for a week. Next post, I’ll tell you how it relates to the teachings of Jesus, and to these posts on being conscious of our mortality.  During my childhood our family saw several dramatic turns of...

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