Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Morning Blues; Jesus gonna make up my dying bed

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In the time of dying
I don't want nobody to moan
All I want my friends to do
Come and fold my dying arms
So I can die easy
Jesus gonna make up my dying bed

There's a lot to be said about an easy death.

Church promises an awful lot (or a great deal, if you prefer) to make dying easy.

Personally, I find a lot of comfort in the Buddha's teachings. Not that the descriptions of why we're in samsara are very flattering, but perhaps I will die more easily knowing I get another chance at enlightenment if I don't realize it this time.

There's also the Pure Land, not entirely unlike the Promised Land, which certainly makes dying easy.

There's a lot of talk in Zen and Mahayana about how to make other being's lives happy, but what about death? How does one go about giving someone a happy death? How can I help you die easily? It seems like a slightly different challenge. Or, from the other side, how can I make my death easy for those around me? I suppose if I were a total pain in the @$$ from now 'til then, no one will moan when I die, but that's what I'm doing my best to avoid, here!

I suspect following the middle way in life will help make dying easier, from the point of view of dying without shame, guilt, or regret. Being present in the moment of death, not looking back, not worrying about what's to come, just dying, would probably make things easier.  Maybe all one needs to die easy is to have a loved one "make their bed", hold their hand, be there. And just maybe, if I'm at peace and die quietly, easily, mindfully, loved ones will be less likely to moan.


  1. Hey! Were you reading our minds during our zazenkai yesterday? Our discussion exactly and you totally captured the essence of the dharma! Thank you, my friend. I'll pass along the link to my sangha buddies.

  2. Wow! Interesting!
    Actually, I'd been mentally composing this one all week, but it mostly came together as i wrote it.
    Maybe I picked up some vibes from you!

  3. Oh, and I know it's not Monday morning over there, yet, but it has been here for a while..

  4. do not get another chance at enlightenment. You are already as enlightened as you are ever going to be. You are the unborn. Births and deaths of countless forms are a mere gesture of your beingness. At some point, you mused about what it would be like if you were not actually what you were.
    Existence is the result. But you like your little game a lot, so you keep on pretending that you are not what you are. It never suits you, so you give up on it and imagine something else. All the time being just what you are - completely without needs of any sort.

  5. Yes, I was careful to add "realizing it"
    I understand that inherently we are all enlightened, but it doesn't make up for the killing, and other things, or even the smaller scale suffering that I cause everyday...
    If it was realized, perhaps all this would stop.

    It's a difficult one to say anything definitive about...

    thanks for your comment!

  6. I hope and pray that when I'm breathing out my last breath I'm at home, comfortable, with the support of those I love and who love me. And I trust that as I leave this life I'll be welcomed into the next by the Bodhisattva of Compassion, carried in her arms. What else could make leaving this world and all those I love bearable?

    I've thought a lot about this and, I must be honest, the theories of Zen and already being Buddha etc just don't connct with me when I contemplate this situation. I believe in the Pure Land and in the Bodhisattva (and can call it 'heaven' and 'Jesus' just as readilly) and when the final surrender comes, I hope I am able to do just that - to surrender to their mercy.

    Thank you for a beautiful post Joseph, and wishing you great peace.


  7. thanks, Marcus,
    i always appreciated your addition.
    Many of the same wishes to you!

  8. I know I'm weird . . . I don't take any comfort at all in Buddha's teachings. I find them profoundly uncomfortable. I mean, do I really want to accept responsibility for my life? Most of the time, no.

  9. Haha!
    Maybe even the Buddha was a little weird!
    I suppose I don't really want to, but accept that I need, too.
    It doesn't mean I do though!

  10. I've been thinking about this for the last three days.
    I suppose comfort isn't it, but maybe hope.

    You're right, it's not comfortable, it's a heckuva lot'a work!