II.9 Self-preservation or attachment to life is the subtlest of all afflictions. It is found even in wise men.” – Patanjali’s Sutras
No trace of winter remains. Green has become the new brown and the song birds are in full chorus. I can only sit and let my senses bathe in the experience of spring on full throttle.
This gets me thinking about the age old question, so I wander down to the pond to ask Maya,
“Is there life after death?”
What ever was I thinking? For a long moment she didn’t move, until I began to wonder if she had heard me at all.
I heard you, Shih Tzu. Isn’t it enough to be in this moment without having to think what is coming afterwards? Everything is perfect and you want to talk about death. You are so weird, it’s just what a human would do.
Well, what do you think?
How should I know! Let’s go ask Tessa and get a cat’s perspective.
I was gifted nine lives, Blondie, so don’t ask me.
Ok, let’s go ask Mom. I remember that her yoga stuff talks a lot about life and death.
But when we found mom she was gazing intently at raindrops on a blade of grass. Yeah, that’s our mom for ya.
Look at these beads of water clinging to each blade of grass. There are millions of them! Each drop represents one lifetime and when it finally falls from wind or weight or the sun, it changes form and reemerges as a blade of grass, wild thyme, something other than what it had been.
You mean our lives are recycled back into the earth.
Yes, something like that. Life and death are as one, and it is our greatest arrogance to think that we are the only one who will never die, and that we will die forever.
Simply stated, human mom. I totally get what you are saying and have no fear of dying once the other seven of my lives have been lived.
Well, I can speed that up for you, cat woman.
If there is life after death are you saying there is also reincarnation?
I was once a lion and now I’m a Cairn terrier and in my next lifetime I’ll run for President of some corrupt little South American country and put into play the lessons I have learned sitting on the porch watching carpenter bees war over drilling rights to the roof overhead. No different than humans warring over oil drilling rights. So when I’m….
Yes, well that’s quite enough Ms. Clinton Cairn terrier. Remind me to come back as something other than from South America will you Seamus?
Sure mom, which makes me wonder if we have all been together in a past lifetime and decided to meet up for this one. Mom, you got to be the human this time around…
Poor thing. And I chose to bring the wisdom of the ancient Egyptian feline goddess to life.
I kinda like the idea that you don’t know when it’s going to happen.
Like your friend, right mom?
Yes, like my friend, who went to sleep and left his body behind when he awakened. He was a Buddhist monk and Kung Fu master, a man wise in the ways of non-attachment. It was just like him to be the first of us to cross over and get the lay of the land. He came to me in a dream to tell me good-bye and the next morning I heard the news.
You are not this body
You are not this mind
Is that some Egyptian mumbo jumbo miss 9-lives?
No, actually it is the teaching. When the greatest part of the lesson is non-attachment one must surrender all to the unknowable Divine, good and bad, indifferent and tragic, wonderful and exhilarating…!
Ok, mom, we get the picture.
Lucjan Shila was a lot of things and many judgements could be made of his character, but he always knew he was a Buddhist following the true way. I suspect that he was able to drop his body just when he was ready. I will miss his presence in the world, truly one of a kind. Hey, where’s the Dhammapada, I know there’s a passage we can read in his honor.
With all your heart
Stop the stream.
When the world dissolves
Everything becomes clear.
This way or that way,
To the farther shore
Where the world dissolves
And everything becomes clear.
Beyond this shore
And the farther shore,
Beyond the beyond,
Where there is no beginning,
Do your work, with mastery.
A man is not born to mastery.
A master is never proud.
He does not talk down to others.
Owning nothing, he misses nothing.
He wants nothing from this world
And nothing from the next.
He is free.
(The Dhammapada, Sayings of the Buddha.
A rendering by Thomas Byran
Sacred Teachings Publications)