"The knock of death confirms there in no place to hide, no place to rest because everything is in transition toward something else. We spend much of our lives seeking a refuge from the storm of death only to find our cloister disintegrating in time. Our minds, bodies, roles, responsibilities, relationships, accomplishments, self-images — everything goes with time. Death says, 'Build something up, but keep an eye on me. I have the final word.' Death holds us to that word.

"We usually place all our attention on building up and forget to keep an eye on death. This is disastrous for our well-being because the building and the dying are one and the same. Milarepa, the renowned Tibetan yogi, was instructed by his teacher to build stone houses one day and dismantle them the next. He did this day after day until the lessons of death merged with life. Building up and destroying are two views of the same incident. Death is occurring in each moment of life. We are not the same person we were a moment ago, nor does anything in the universe maintain itself for even an instant. It all falls continuously into the cavern of death.

"Many people who are on the edge of their lives seem to know a secret. They reveal those secrets through their conversations, their dreams, their visions. But mostly they reveal the power of their secret by the way they die. Many make the actual moment of death look easy. It almost seems anticlimactic to the viewer, nothing special at all. It is only when we live with death in full view that this 'nothing special' secret can be imparted to us. Death becomes another moment of life, and our whole life is made easier in its recognition.

"To live our death means we do not maintain imaginary continuity. We invite death into the moment by allowing the moment to die. We do not prolong the moment beyond its natural duration. Everything is allowed to be just as it is. Death then merges into the moment itself. It becomes the moment. It creates the aliveness within the moment by constantly turning over fresh soil, bringing forth the new and the mysterious. We meet death in this aliveness without separation or differentiation. The death spoken about here is not nothing nor is it something. It is the universe before the Big Bang.

"Living our death occurs when there is no separation between us and dying. It occurs when dying is not made into something apart from living. Death is no longer a reference point for our fear. We are not closer to it as we age, nor are we farther away in our youth. We no longer use death as a measurement to define our present health and well-being. Death is equally present across the entire spectrum of space and time. It is not a problem for us because there is no us apart from death. There is just what is. With the integration of the person into what is, the distinction between the person and death ends."

A Teaching Story about Love

"I recently heard a radio interview with a chef renowned for his excellent barbecued ribs. The interviewer asked him what combination of factors made his meat special. The chef talked about the seasonings and the construction of the barbecue pit. He hesitated and then said that while he was working with these ingredients he pictured his children. This was his secret recipe. The meaning that gave this man his purpose was love. He imparted the special ingredient of love for his children into each meal."

Back to reading a full review of this book.