Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Your Moment of Zen

by Ben Lurie 


Tags: Spirituality, mindful living, meditation, Q+A, how philosophers died, fear of death, dying with dignity, Shambhala Sun,

Death doesn’t have to be terrifying or even a disappointment. Many Christian, Confucian, and Classical philosophers have written and spoken about what it means to live and die with dignity, grace, or even good cheer. In an interview with Shambala Sun, the writer Simon Critchley relays this strangely charming tale: 

There’s a wonderful story of a Zen Buddhist monk from the twelfth century who preached to his disciples and then sat in the Zen position and died. When his followers complained that he died too quickly, he revived and harangued them for a bit longer. Then he died five days later. 

Source: Shambhala Sun (Article not yet available online)

steve maxcy, anthropologist
3/24/2010 9:19:46 AM

Wouldn't it be nice to slip into that deep, dark night, free of the continuing onus of life, and know that one might reincarnate, might ressurect, and give one or two additional caveats! For most of us, however, this is it (!), and perhaps today is the day that I, and by extension, perhaps you, too, might get out there and do the obvious, the mundane, and the right. A physician recently challenged my mindfulness by suggesting that the spiritual path is not always one of lofty ideals and challenges; today's spirituality might involve merely opening a door, offering an ear, or being physically present for someone who needs. As I rocket into another grateful day above ground, I hope that I might accomplish those few simple things that will allow me to be there for another human being who has not found the joy in suffering yet - one who has not found the gifts of being thoroughly beaten on life's anvil. Yet it has through each hammer-stroke to make the me that is now usable, and I am as thankful for those pains as I hope to be for the next. I hope to fill today with my delight, to find someone with whom I may celebrate life's goodness, and to be available for any I might aid. I may not get the five-day rebate, and so I better put in five days of extra effort. Thank you for a wonderful publication which has helped urge my thought, repeatedly, into a more positive, more open beam of light.