A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Monday, January 27, 2014

On Death & Ignorance

My mother has been dead for a little over three weeks and my brother and I have spent the last two weeks staying with my father.  We will return home on Thursday.  My father is in mourning, but I am very glad to report that he is not devastated.  I don't think he is just going to give up; I believe he will continue and adjust to being on his own.  His friends here at this retirement community have been very kind and plan to invite him to dinner after we leave.  I have been gently encouraging him to engage in social activities and not spend all of his time in his apartment.  He appears to be willing to try and that is all that I ask of him, to keep trying.  I am glad that I have been here for him in his environment, but I also know I must return home.  I will continue to stay in closer touch with him, but I cannot live his life for him.  He must find the courage and the will to live and find enjoyment in his life.

Perhaps it is because I believe my mother's spirit lives on in some unknown dimension that I, too, am not devastated.  I am changing with the change and accepting the loss.  I am determined to continue living with as much appreciation for my life and for those still living.  I have lived through devastation several times in my life so far and this does not come close to that experience.  My mother was eighty five when she died and lived a very good life.  I celebrate her life and am in awe at the mystery hidden within death.  I see death as a transformation and not as a final, solemn ending.  I believe too many people get caught up in the horror of the dying process and in the shock of the sudden absence of a living presence.  And some do not like to encounter other people's deaths because it reminds them of their own mortality.  I don't feel this way.  To me there is meaning everywhere, be it in life or in death. I believe that there is a bigger and wonderful picture that includes us all.

I have learned several valuable lessons from Tibetan Buddhism.  They make a point of preparing for death in life through various meditation practices.  I would like to follow them and prepare now for my turn to pass out of this life and into I know not what.  One thing I do know for sure, I do not want to live the rest of my life in fear.  When my time comes, I want to let go into it and not resist.  I want to go with the flow wherever it leads me.  I consider this the joyful approach to death.  If one takes away the horror and fear, one is left with peace.  Peace is what I want most within myself, in my interaction with others and in the world we all live in.  I do think that so much of the pain we feel is self created and even glorified in so many of the stories we tell ourselves or read about or watch in films.  The deaths of characters make for high drama, for a kind of sick entertainment.  Personally I think we spoon feed ourselves a lot of bullshit.  And this basis of bullshit, this essential distortion makes so many of us walk around in a delusion believing that the negative assessment is the TRUTH when it is only lies we tell ourselves to justify our reactions and our lifestyles.

I've seen people blaming other people or their concept of "God" for all the ills in the world.  I've done some of this myself, but as I age I see that all this does is to contribute to the problems we face.  The blame game is a cop out.  It separates us when we need to unite for peace on earth.  Death is a fact of life on this planet, but, for now, so is regeneration.  And what exactly is death?  Does anyone really know?  Change your view on death and you change your world view; you change your spirit.  I stay open to the view that death is a portal into the unknown.  Within the unknown there is magic.  There's magic in the universe.  See how small you really are, but how valuable, too, and how each of us has a place in this seemingly unending puzzle.

What I'm suggesting is that our concepts of death are actually misconceptions.  I am also saying that many of our concepts of life are also misconceptions.  We live inside bubbles, dreams and we are all very stubborn.  We think we know.  We gather up knowledge to block out our fundamental insecurity and common ignorance.  Really, how can you sum up a life?  Why do you want to reduce a beautiful tapestry to one single thread?  Yes, I know some things about my own life because I exist within it. That's as close as I get to knowledge.  But it is still only partial knowledge and it will always be truer to say that mostly I do not know.  From the stance of not knowing, you stay in a beginners' mind and that is an open, receptive and, to me, a very beautiful mind.

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