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Photo by Luis Graterol on Unsplash

Thinking about death is like looking into the sun

These daily writing exercises are the closest I can get to therapy these days. Though, to be honest, I’ve only been to a therapist twice ever and the first was a quack and the second solved the issue I was there for in one session. It was mainly to find out why people go to therapists. I could see the point but also knew it was not for me.

Judging from the stuff I see on Medium, the bloggy thing I write on, there is a lot of introspection going on, not surprising given that a lot of us are very limited in our interpersonal interaction. I came close to talking to my plants yesterday, but they already know what’s on my mind. Any things that can live that slowly and so beautifully must be an advanced group of beings. Almost as sentient as rocks.

Sentience, by man’s definition, implies self-awareness. Yet, according to Zen and the Tibetans, who have studied this stuff for a lot longer than us, self-awareness is the problem, not the advantage. We meditate to learn that the self is not only fragile, it is a distraction. Something else is more important.

These Buddhist cultures came out of violent warrior cultures. The Tibetans were the most feared tribes in the brutal Himalayan region, a place where the environment either killed you or made you strong. And Zen came directly out of the samurai tradition of extreme self-discipline. Both cultures transferred that discipline from violence to the examination of the inner world. They trained for it.

Here, in the cushy world, where death is an abstract notion for those of us not facing it, we are now looking it straight in the eye, and it is looking back. As is our way, we try to parse numbers and find our way through denial until we believe we have passed some threshold. Until a friend gets sick and worse. Those ancient warriors had seen enough of death to know it well. We are learning.

Humanity will survive this thing. Most of us will survive this thing. But will we remember? Will we learn? I’m not sure. To learn and change would require looking inward at something we generally avoid at all costs and to stare directly at it. Like looking at the dark opposite of the sun. Our leadership at the top is in denial, believing in magical potions that we all know are snake oil stories for those who are in fear.

I am not in fear.

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