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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Leave it to novelist Franz Kafka to throw things into sharpest relief: "The meaning of life is that it stops." The author of THE TRIAL and "Metamorphosis" must have been thinking that it is death that defines life. If life ceases, then that is its essential meaning.

Though he doesn't state this in so many words, Kafka implies that death renders life meaningless. But, meaning and meaninglessness don't exhaust all the possibilities. Transpersonal (meaning: beyond the personal) psychologist John Welwood proposed an alternative to these two: meaningfreeness. That is, beyond meaning and meaninglessness, there is the possibility of being free of the habit of constructing meaning. This takes us to what J. Krishnamurti called what is. that which exists beyond the thinking mind. Are we incapable of touching what is because of our habits of mind? Yes. Meditative awareness, which is bare attention, enables one to realize what is right in front of us without resorting to thought, imagery, memory, knowledge. To behold death with meditative awareness is to realize--make real--that it can only be understood with love.

What would it mean to love death? I am not singing the praises of suicide, nor have I taken a morbid turn here and gone off the deep end. Have you ever set aside all your associations of death and approached it quietly, gently, with love and passionate interest? To do so is to realize death itself is a great poem.

on the same branch
a blooming and dying rose
never touch


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