What did you make of last week’s ‘writing your own abituary’ exercise? How does your first sentence go? Mine has to do with the practice of not leaving traces.
When this body ceases to function, so my thinking goes, there won’t be anyone left to talk about himself. A few remembrances in someone else’s mind . . . bits of furniture, a final tax return, and anonymous body parts in a freezer at UBC medical school. However, no “me.”
Approaching a forest monastery in Thailand, I once saw a handpainted sign that read, “Cut yourself some slack. 100 years from now, all new people.” Yikes!
I once asked a monk-friend how one might prepare for when death comes knocking, he suggested I live every day with eyes wide open, paying attention to each breath as much as possible. Try to leave no traces wherever you go and whatever you say. In due time the transition from living to non-living will flow seemlessly and naturally, with little or no suffering.
Our monastic teacher wrote a book on ways to leave fewer traces. Here’s one for you to try:
“Choose one room of your house and for one week try leaving no trace that you’ve used that space. The bathroom or kitchen works best for most people. If you’ve been doing something in that room, cooking a meal or taking a shower, clean up in such a way that you leave no signs that you’ve been there, except perhaps the odor of food or fragrance of soap.”
(Jan Chozen Bays. “How to train a wild elephant and other adventures in mindfulness.” Shambhala, 2011).