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Daily Connection: The Impermanence of Death?

Yesterday, IDP released a new and somewhat controversial T-shirt based upon the Four Reminders of (Meditation) Practice. Emblazoned across the front in bold white lettering, THIS BODY WILL BE A CORPSE’s all capitals message greets any onlooker who even briefly glances the way of the wearer with its startling and exceptionally direct declaration. Wearing the shirt yesterday, I encountered 1) inquisitive glances 2) disturbed looks and 3) even one man who gestured the sign of the cross when he thought I wasn’t looking.

Certainly, like others, I was concerned about the unskillful and wonton provocation of others who may have recently suffered an unenviable loss or sickness, but keeping this in mind I endeavored to cultivate a calm demeanor and in my own small way exude approachability so that the initial harshness of the message might soften into a more profound meditation. But what I found most curious about wearing the T-shirt was not what I perceived others were or may be thinking/feeling but the slyly paradoxical conundrum behind the slogan itself. How fascinating to implicitly juxtapose the fact of death with the idea of impermanence because, really, if death isn’t permanent, then what is? Indeed, it seems that death is most disturbing to many of us precisely because of its presumed exceptional finality. Certainly, there are heaven and hells, afterlives and the idea of karma and reincarnation (which, frankly, I still don’t exactly understand alas), but that THIS, this ends and ends completely ….well that’s obvious. At least, that's the assumption. So I used this as an opportunity to really reflect on both the impermanence of death and invoked Socrates by embracing true inscrutability and unknowing, as his point before the jury that would ultimately sentence him to death is, most definitely, a most astounding one. Enjoy.

Daily Quote(s)

“For this fear of death is indeed the pretence of wisdom, and not real wisdom, being the appearance of knowing the unknown; since no one knows whether death, which they in their fear apprehend to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good. Is there not here conceit of knowledge, which is a disgraceful sort of ignorance?” - Socrates, Plato’s Apology           

“But death is real,

Comes without warning.

This body

Will be a corpse.” - Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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