Monday, May 25, 2009

What Are You Packing For Your Final Trip?

This morning as I sat in meditation these words popped up on my little mind screen: "All we take with us when we die is our good and bad karma."  As a spiritual detective I started looking around for the door that these thoughts wandered in through.  What rippled through my experience and mind to produce this little shard of Dharma?  (It is not my original thought, but a quote from somewhere. I'm not sure where).  I could see a couple of open doors that offered a way in for this slightly cautionary quote.  Following on the heels of this thought were the last words of the Buddha, which go something like:  "Work out your future with diligence."  (Now if someone would close the door, it's getting kind of crowded in here with all these thoughts busting in.)

Last night I heard of the sudden death of a woman in her 40's who had recently quit work at my mother's care home.  There had been some disharmony between her and others at the facility so she decided to leave.  A week after she'd left to enjoy  a summer break, her life here in this human realm was over.  Working in her garden, seeming pretty vibrant and alive, and poof that's it, end of this human life.  So we never know.  Instead of working myself into a fear lather (that's from the spiritual sodium laurel sulphate in my mind) when I heard this story it reminded me that every moment counts (there's 2 sides to this little karmic coin).  While we should live with gusto and passion, we also need to live with care and attention to the small choices we make in our lives.  On the karmic dance card, every step counts.  This is not meant to hang over our head in a heavy and gloomy way, it is simply a reflection of the truth, of how things really are.

Over the last couple of days I have also been chewing on some family affairs that have left me with a lingering feeling of "that's not fair".  You know those jags the little self gets on .... and has a hard time letting go of?  Rottweiler mind  just won't let go.   For starters it's most often about "what is not working for me".  This is the modus operandi of the little self.  In this case it had to do with some money and I won't go into it.    For starters it makes me feel greedy that it even comes up so  strongly for me.  But that's another rabbit hole.  

I could see that little rottweiler mind kept working that bone during the day and  that I couldn't really will it to go away.  Those thoughts kept popping up like little gophers on the landscape (remember that wack a mole game?).  I kept wacking those darn moles with the present moment but they kept popping up.  And as I know, time passes and eventually the little mole storm settles down and the horizon is quite clear of furry, marauding thoughts.  The rotweiller is quiet and all is clear on the western front.  

So when I was reminded this morning that all we take with us is our good and bad karma, it offered me some perspective.  The money is not important.  It is much more important to concern myself with how I conduct myself in this matter.  Do I act on my irritation?  Do I let my irritation and greed; my desire, cloud my behaviour and interaction with others?  This doesn't mean I won't say what seems appropriate (we are not zen doormats) but I must remember not to speak or act out of that place of irritation and desire.  I can contemplate my options and say what I feels need to be said and move on.

So in that way I am preparing my suitcase for my final journey, one that can come at any time.  We never know the time or circumstances of our death.  The Dalai Lama says he spends time every day preparing for his death.  So it's kind of like that emergency preparedness pack they keep encouraging us to have stored in our homes.  We need to be constantly checking the spiritual luggage and working to fill it with the appropriate actions and thoughts, the ones that will carry us into our next lives.  So there you have it I am thinking about what's in my spiritual valise, what I might add and what I need to take out and leave behind.  May you pack well and may both the packing and the journey be fruitful.


  1. Well, this is a weighty piece, filled with wonderful phrases. I love the "rotweiller mind" - not it, but the image - seems very accurate. And to know the Dalai Lama spends a bit of time daily preparing for death - sounds a whole hell of a lot better than avoiding until the last second!


  2. I really liked the Buddha's last words "work out the future with diligence". Coupled with the fact that ironically I just read Mary Oliver's poem Buddha's Last Instruction, today too has been reflective for me regarding death. But the action of working with diligence is comforting to know I can do something... before I go.

  3. My understanding is that the more present, the less frightened we can be at the time of our death, the more likely that we will experience a more auspicious rebirth or next life, in a fear is attracted to fear kind of way. So definitely worth preparing for the curtain call!

    I will have to check out that poem by Mary Oliver. And yes, it is good to know that we can alter our karma and work out our future.