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Do You Fear Death? Read This...

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posted on Feb, 27 2012 @ 04:14 PM
I have sometimes in the past been overwhelmed with a dread of the true nature of existence and particularly death. People share this dread, in varying degrees, but through Zen practice I have shed this terror.

The following is one of the most beautiful and profound observations of life and death I have ever read... I want to share it with you all, and hopefully ease some fear and/or confusion over the nature of living and dying.

Spoken by Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi, and transcribed into the book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind This comes from a man who I believe was a true Master and a Buddha.

"If you go to Japan and visit Eiheiji monastery….before you enter the monastery you will see the small bridge called Han Sak Kyo. "Han Sak Kyo" means half dipper bridge. Half dipper bridge. Whenever Dogen Zenji used (dipped) water from the river, after he used half of it he returned the water to the river again without throwing it away. That is why we call that bridge Han Sak Kyo – Half dipper bridge.

In Eihieji monastery when we wash our face we do not fill the basin. We just use 70% of the basin and after we wash it we do not throw the water away from the body. We empty the basin this way—toward the body. It means to respect the water. It is not just…this kind of practice is not based on just economy. It may be pretty hard (to understand) why Dogen Zenji returned the water after he used half of it. It is… this kind of practice is beyond our thinking. When we feel the beauty of the river, or water, we intuitively we do it in this way. That is our nature. But when our nature is covered by some economic idea you may think it doesn’t make any sense to return the water back to the river.

The other day I went to Yosemite and I saw (Yosemite National Park)… and I saw a huge waterfall, 1,340 feet high (the first one). The next cascade was 600 something. Even the last one was 300. When I saw the first highest waterfall…I saw the water coming down like a curtain which was thrown from the top of the mountain. It doesn’t come down swiftly, as I expected. It comes down very slowly, because of the distance.

And the water comes down in some group. Water does not come down as one whole river. The water separated in many groups. It comes down like a curtain. I thought it may be very hard experience for each water to come down such a high mountain, from the top to the bottom. It takes time, you know. It takes so long until it…the water reach to the bottom of the waterfall. And I thought our life is maybe like that. We have many hard experiences in our life, but at the same time, I thought, the water is not originally separated. It is one whole water. When it is separated like that the water has some feeling. When it is one whole water, the water do not have any feeling…at least it looks like this. When it is separated in many pieces it start to have some feeling, or to express some feeling. When the water is running as a one whole water we do not feel the living activity of the water, but when we dip a part of the water in dipper, we feel the value of the water and we feel some feeling of the water. When we are separated in this way we have feeling. But before we were born we had no feeling… we were one piece of the universe. That is called mind only or essence of mind or big mind. Before we have feeling to us. After we are separated in this way, like a water falling down from the top of the waterfall to the bottom separated by the wind or rocks, then we have feeling. Even the water must have feeling. And this kind of, not feeling….fact… this fact is very valuable. So our birth and death is the same thing. So when we realize this fact we have no fear of death anymore and we have no actual difficulty in our life.

If you think why we have difficulty in our life you will understand how to accept the difficulty. Before you are, you do not realize that we are one piece of water or one piece of universe. You have fear. You have difficulty because you have feeling. You attach to the feeling you have just now without knowing just how this kind of feeling is created.

So to dip the water from the river is to feel the water, the value of each individual, the value of the person who uses the water. At the same time when we become aware of individual feelings we have the feeling of the value of the water. So we…because of this feeling we cannot use the water just materially. It is living being. Originally it was with the big river. So if the water becomes one with the big river, the water will not have any feeling to it. It will resume to its own nature. By resuming to its own nature they have composure, they will be very glad to come back to original water. If so, when you die what feeling will you have? I think it is like water. We are like water in the dipper.

So if someone takes us to the original river the dipper…the water in the dipper will be very glad. So if we come back to original home we will be very glad. We will have composure there. Perfect composure. It may be too perfect for us just now. Now we have some….because we are so attached to the individual existence like this so we have attachment. For us, just now, in this way we have some feeling of fear or fear of death but after we resume to our true nature there is nirvana. That is why we say to attain nirvana when we die. It is same word. We say ‘to take nirvana’ is to pass away…to pass away is not so adequate expression. ‘To pass on’.

To pass on, or go on or to join. Will you find out some good expression for it – more adequate expression? And at the same time you will have quite new interpretation to our life. Like I saw the water in the big waterfall. Imagine it is 1300 feet. If you say it is fear you cannot stand for it. But if you think that is water originally one piece of water, there is no fear and it has beauty and it has feeling. That feeling is quite new feeling, quite different feeling which water….the water will have when…before they do not feel they do not know it was one whole water. So we say, ‘from emptiness everything comes out’. One whole piece of water, or one whole mind, is emptiness. When we reach to this understanding we find true meaning to our life. When we reach this understanding we can see the beauty of the flower, the beauty of human life. Before we do not realize this fact. All what we see is just delusion. Sometimes we overestimate the beauty. Sometimes we underestimate or ignore the beauty because of our small mind which does not accord with the reality.

To talk about it in this way is quite easy but to have actual feeling is not so easy but by our practice of our zazen, when we can sit with our body and with our mind and oneness of our mind and body, under the control of the big mind, we can easily attain this kind of right understanding. Your everyday life will be renewed without being attached to the old erroneous interpretation of life. When you realize this fact you will find out how meaningless our interpretation of life was, how useless difficulty we had, how useless effort we had been making, and you will find out true meaning of life and you will enjoy your life even though you have difficulty of falling upright to the bottom of the waterfall from the top of the mountain.

I could not hear even the sound of the waterfall there. At least I didn’t feel the hearing of the sound. That should be our life. Like the water falling down from the top of the mountain."

*Bows to all beings*

posted on Feb, 27 2012 @ 04:18 PM
*Addition* This is found in the chapter "Nirvana, the Waterfall," but is not edited. Suzuki-Roshi was quite old when he spake these words, and his English was quite broken. This is the unedited version of the talk, complete with grammatical errors and pauses.

posted on Feb, 27 2012 @ 04:26 PM
reply to post by Aqualung2012

in absolute freedom dimension life and death is same one fact, the positive freedom constant sense, objective living or subjective absolutely being

but existence is what life dont know nor death, it is all to objective truth realities so to truth freedom and to infinite values rights existence so far way beyond freedom as objective positive superior value constancy existence right

posted on Feb, 27 2012 @ 04:30 PM
reply to post by absolutely

I have no idea what you're talking about, but thank you never the less! Dogen had a knack for Zen babbling too!

One, two. Not one, not two.

edit on 27-2-2012 by Aqualung2012 because: ..

posted on Feb, 27 2012 @ 05:01 PM
I know very little about Zen. What I do know about is what is feels like to be dead.

I was on a boat in a very deep lake called Lake Chelan. Keep in mind the water in this lake is very clear, easy to see 15 feet into the water maybe deeper. Since the lake can get rough especially where we were, it is common to tie off your boat away from the dock. To do this a cement anchor was set with a float attached to it, away from the dock about 25-30 feet. This anchor was set many years ago. I was on the front of a 20' boat and tied the rope to the boat hooks (not sure the actual name for them), then i jumped over the windshield. My friend and his parents were standing on the dock ready to pull the back of the boat toward the dock for me to jump off the boat onto the dock. This part never happened. What happen (it was fully understood later) the cement anchor slid off a shelf it was sitting on and sank deep into the lake. When this happened the rope I tied off to the front of the boat which was attached to the cement anchor and float, stood the boat straight up and towed it right down to the bottom. The boat was never recovered and depth finders showed the depth in that area was over 999' except in areas that had shelves. When it stood straight up I was thrown against the dash with water gushing over me.

I remeber I was fighting my way off the dash and trying to get away from the boat. I had an overwhelming feeling of panic, I assume from the thought of dying. I had no breath because this happened unexpectedly. When I got free and I do not know how long this was, seconds or minutes. I also do not know how deep I was but I could see the sky above me. Problem was it was the size of a hoola hoop and shrinking. As I was swimming to the daylight the light circle got as small as a quarter. At this point I then blacked out. I was told I was dead for at least 2 minutes while my friend and his parents performed CPR on me on the dock, saving my life.

During this time I was blinded by an extremely bright light (i guess). I did not hear anything. I did not feel anything like heat or cold but I do recall feeling calm and I had a sense of freedom of thought. After I came too and was coughing up water I could not see. I was blind for several minutes. The doctors could not explain this other than shock. I have no long term effects from this other than some fear of water and boats.

The point of my story is that panic and fear seemed so manmade in this instant. That at the actual point of near death I felt calm. Now I often wonder how subconsciously (sp) I could feel anything. I did not hear anyone, I was not above my body looking down and watching them work on me. I was gone. But I was somewhere and I remember knowing it. I also know I was at peace. That seems weird and somewhat difficult to explain because I can't. How could I be dead, be somewhere, be aware I was somehwere, feel calm about it but know nothing?

I know that does not add any information about Zen theory but the thread stated do you fear death and my answer is "NO".

posted on Feb, 27 2012 @ 05:48 PM
reply to post by Sharpenmycleats

That is an amazing story! How incredible an experience! No one could ever understand what you went through, unless they have themselves been through it. Somehow though, your experience seems to speak to my heart. There is not a shred of doubt in my mind about the authenticity of your story, and it makes me feel very good to hear it from a first hand source.

I thank you immensely for sharing. I can't imagine... I just can't imagine. Thank you so much!

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