One of my students lost a beloved pet two nights ago. She wrote me that she is taking refuge [in the Dharma], but she still misses her companion. She understands impermanence and yet remains effected by loss.
I’ve always thought Buddhist priest Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) expressed this apparent disconnect best. He wrote this haiku on the occasion of the death of his daughter:
This world of dew is a world of dew. And yet…
Neil deGrasse Tyson on how death helps us live more fully:
“We fear death because we are born knowing only life…
“It is the knowledge that I am going to die that creates the focus that I bring to being alive. The urgency of accomplishment. The need to express love now, not later. If we lived forever, why ever even get out of bed in the morning? Because you always have tomorrow. That’s not the kind of life I want to lead.”
“I focus on spiritual wealth now, and I’m busier, more enthusiastic, and more joyful than I have ever been.”
What does “spiritual wealth” mean? For me, it’s simply time to practice the Dharma by bringing it into my awareness throughout my days. It’s how I keep my mind, moment to moment. It’s remembering to be my best in any circumstance. It’s listening to my Buddha-Nature.
“People know they are lacking something, they are constantly wanting some kind of spiritual guidance.”
When the Buddha said that life is dukkha – “unsatisfactoriness” – perhaps this is what he meant: that vague feeling that there’s something fundamental missing from our lives. For those of us who perceive that void, a spiritual practice is the most “satisfying” way to fill it.
“It’s a basic fact about being human that sometimes the self seems to just melt away.”