I dedicated my life to only one thing.
Learning to die consciously.
As a young adult I gladly and with great relief left the world and joined a group of monks in a simple small remote village. A village isolated and far removed from the activity of the world. I spent the rest of my days meditating and listening to and trying to understand the teachings of the Buddha and the wisdom of my Lama (teacher and spiritual guide in Buddhism). I tried very hard to learn how to die consciously. It was the only goal I had. Nothing else mattered to me. Why would it? The world as the scriptures taught me, is just an illusion.
There was never any doubt that I was doing the right thing. I studied and followed the teachings carefully and seriously.
I meditated, fasted, took part in ceremonies, memorized, chanted, and prayed faithfully, and performed good deeds which I believed would clear past karmas.
I never let myself be angry or even think of harm towards another living being.
Anything my teacher asked of me I never hesitated. I was happy to be his student, in the presence of and in service to such a great sage.
I did everything the 'right' way. I was convinced I was giving myself the best chance of dying a conscious death and then I would free myself permanently from the suffering of life and death.
All those other people who were out there in the world having relationships, families, and trying hard at their jobs; I thought they were all lost. Can’t they see that everything they are doing and trying to create is temporary? We will all die anyway, why waste time on anything to do with the world of illusion?
I was glad not to take part in all that illusory and superficial activity.
I was a seeker.
I was confident I had found the right path.
I stayed steady and unwavering on this path all the way into old age.
Then the day came.
Death came for me.
As I was being pulled away from my body I experienced only terror and could not stay conscious. I was shocked at my own fear and weakness. I couldn’t believe I spent all my life preparing for this moment and yet I failed so miserably.
I concluded from this that it was because I’m weak and a failure and carried these beliefs along with the pain and disappointment for many lifetimes.
Several years ago, I relived the memory of that life and I released the beliefs and pain.
Then I understood the real reason why I, as that dedicated monk, experienced such terror and could not stay conscious.
I saw it all clearly.
I had died afraid because I lived afraid
I saw all the things I had been running from.
Being a monk in that remote community meant I did not have to face responsibility for my own survival. Someone else would take care of me. Someone else would tell me how to live. I didn’t have to make difficult decisions. I didn’t have to think of things like my body, or money, or people, or my desires. I didn’t have to feel too happy or too hurt or too anything.
My monk self thought of himself as unattached.
But the truth was that I was deeply attached. I was attached to material things, to money to pleasure, to people. The world. To many things.
That is why I felt I had to run away from it all.
That is why I separated myself.
That is why I studied so hard and memorized the teachings.
But I had never truly discovered what the teachings were about. I believed in them strongly, but this only meant I carried them and clung to them as ideas. They actually became barriers, since I thought I knew something that I didn’t truly know.
I didn’t realize that being in the presence of a great teacher and hearing or reading wisdom was not enough. Not near enough. I had to learn what they meant, I had to realize wisdom through experience. Not my teacher’s experience. MY experience.
I would have had to live.
Be in the world and live.
This would have meant facing the complexities and difficulties of life. Things like money and my mixed emotions about it. I would have to fall in love and risk my heart being broken. I would have to experience failure. I would have to experience success and then inevitably see it pass. See the suffering, violence, and unrest in the world. See it in me.
This time around the priority of the inward seeking guides me on how to see the opportunities in what the monk saw as “just illusion”.
So many lessons to learn and grow from. So many fears to walk through and vulnerabilities to embrace.
Now when I think of that lifetime, I feel a sense of gratitude for the challenges life brings me in my day-to-day current life.
Yet also, so so much goodness too, so many discoveries and gifts to enjoy, and share.
So much LIFE to live.
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Leela Haris - Expanding Consciousness