The most fearsome of all experiences, the one thing hardest to face directly, is death. But can we leave this event out of account and still hope to understand the meaning of our lives? We wish we could. Pondering the inevitability of aging and death is painful. It brings us up against a despair that leaves no avenue for escape. What in life has meaning if death is the end of all our striving?

Although we know we cannot avoid it, we act as though death had little significance in the total context of our lives. We can be realistic about death only on a superficial level, resolving to deal with whatever happens when it comes. We can deflect a serious inquiry into the meaning of death even while drafting life insurance plans and wills, or arranging the details of our own funerals.

If we knew that we had the opportunity to close a profitable business deal, we would learn as much as we could about all its implications and fully prepare ourselves to benefit from its outcome. Yet when our time comes to die, as it inevitably does, we tend to be caught unawares.

Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche
Knowledge of Freedom

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