Sunday, March 18, 2012

How Shall I Live, Knowing I Will Die?

Knowing that the duration of life is limited, that we are going to die, an important question to ask is “do we want to live habitually, mechanically, automatically, not questioning—in many ways being “a chip off the old block?”

Carrying old ideas about who we are, the ways we are supposed to be, or not be, drive us to live stale and stagnate lives. We are strongly influenced by family, church, school, community and culture and it is difficult to sort out who we really are versus who we think we are when we try to fit into society.

So the question “how shall I live” begins to examine all the unquestioned assumptions that drive or motive our choices and lifestyles.

Our acquired personality, the one we arrive into adulthood with, is built around sets of expectations and assumptions about how we are supposed to be as men and women. We can most easily access these subconscious forces by addressing the shoulds of our lives.

If we want freedom and more capacity to be responsive and creative with life, we need to open up the layers of the personality that cover or mask our true nature.

The truth is, we are living our dying all the time. We die continuously to who we were yesterday—we die to youth, inexperience, career successes, failures, parenting, lifestyles and situations. This ongoing death of external circumstances shows us that what we experience and think are transient and not who we truly are.

Who we think we are may be expressions of the shoulds, expectations, and compiled stories about life that we arrived into adult life with. Often unconscious, these mental constructs motivate how we live and are disconnected to the deeper currents of our essence.

Caught up in the whirl of the outer world, it is easy to forget what is true to who we really are. Life is more alive and fulfilling when we live with awareness of our essential self. When live with connection to our essence self we are more at ease and our lives are transformed in ways that reflect our inner nature—we become who we truly are.

The conversation around death helps us to discern what truly matters, what has been lived and not lived and what lives on. A eulogy poignantly brings this into our awareness.

A eulogy becomes a spiritual inquiry as the exploration points to that which is more substantial than superficial, that which is unchanging rather than transient, and that which endures rather than is shed.

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