Every moment of life models living and dying; it is a stream that is ever flowing
By Edward Hirsch
As human beings, we each have a stake in life and in death. Our life matters to us; we don’t want to waste this precious opportunity. And our death matters to us; we care about meeting death consciously. But this doesn’t necessarily imply that we have to be neurotic about our life or egoically grasping onto it, or that we have to be anxious and fearful about our death, since both of these are expressions of the problem, the unrealized life.
It is all so much unnecessary suffering. And even that can serve, however many times we have missed the point or failed as students of life. For the Great Teacher Life never gives up on us, and Its Lesson is always generously given, again and again, with infinite patience and grace, moment to moment.
The point is not to set up some ideal goal of enlightenment so that if we fall short of that, we feel we have failed in life, that we ourselves are failures, and hence that death falls heavily on us as the unrelenting and final statement of our shortcomings. This would be using spirituality to rub salt in the wound, to use it against the human condition, to make matters worse than they would be otherwise.
If you haven’t learned to let go in life, then you leave that to death as a default mechanism of letting go. But do not leave it to some future event, to your eventual death; rather, enter into it now, and learn to let go now. Learn to let go to That which is your Prior Condition, the very Ground of your Being, in trust, in understanding, in love. And not just for yourself, but on behalf of all humanity, insofar as that could even be in your power. It doesn’t matter. What matters is your gesture, which is not a gesture of either efforting or futility, but rather a gesture of letting go.
You do not even need to learn to let go, as another thing for you to do that you might fail at. Your very being already knows how to let go, just as every moment innately knows how to let go. In that sense, every moment of life models living and dying most gracefully. It is a stream that is ever flowing, and you are ever invited to enter that stream. You can enter through the flow of the breath, which is already flowing, naturally and effortlessly. Follow the graceful flow of the exhale, which is a natural and effortless letting go. The exhale doesn’t fear letting go, and it doesn’t fear that it will be the last. It simply lets go. It makes space for a new inhale to follow.
And it is not even your breath — it is life’s breathing. Enter into that as a way of letting go of your grasping onto life and life’s breathing. Life knows how to breathe and how to let go. You don’t just let go, just as the breath isn’t all about exhaling. Exhaling makes space for inhaling, just as your letting go makes space for your moving forward in life. But then, on the other side of letting go, you move forward from a different place, a place that has been cleared by the letting go.
Follow the wisdom of the breath, let it be your master Teacher that is available every moment, until it is time for the breath itself to let go. You have trusted it so far, so why not trust it to the end? It isn’t going anywhere; it is simply letting go into what is Always Already Present, Always Already Here and Now, Always Already your True Nature. Then, whatever else happens is not your concern. Simply let go, and in that letting go is all trust, all wisdom and all love. Simply let go.
Edward Hirsch, M.A. teaches about the Practice of Presence at OLLI and offers free weekly Zoom meetings in the teachings and practices of Presence, Saturdays 1-2:30 p.m., on a drop-in basis at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84805886301.
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