I attended an ah-mazing dinner party on the weekend. Great food, lovely wine, awesome company. The great recipe for success for any dinner party. Although this was not just any dinner party, this was a select group of people who had come together to talk about, muse over and ponder death. Yep. You heard me right. A Death Dinner Party. Cool right? Well maybe not everyones’ cup of tea, but it was for me incredible. A group of like minded people, all curious, some open minded and at the centre of it all a few pretty heavy topics for a great conversation.
I had the privilege of being a speaker on the first Sydney event – my fellow guest speaker, a funeral director, and I had a brief QA with the hosts and an interesting conversation followed. What do think about death? How do we feel about it? Why is it such a taboo topic?????
Taking it from a spiritual perspective and as a student of Tibetan Buddhism, I talked about how we fear death (from the ego attaching to the sense of self) and how the view of impermanence (everything is changing all of the time) can help us get more used to the idea that this life will end. Sounds stupid I know, of course we are going to die, it is inevitable, but we still continue to live our lives like we are not. Why else would we worry about which big screen TV to buy, how our life will end if we don’t get the latest iPhone or what is happening on Facebook?
If we were living our life with a conscious awareness that we are in fact dying, what would be doing differently? It is an interesting thought. It was also interesting to hear from a guy dealing with death everyday. It is his job after all. The way that islanders deal with death….the body of dead Grandma in the lounge room while the kids play around the coffin. “God’s waiting room” (nursing homes) and how people simply go there to die. The way we deal with death in our society is interesting. It tells a tale of how ok we are with death (or rather not ok).
So back to this precious human life, that in Tibetan Buddhism is such a gift as we have a chance to practice, to purify our karma so we can continue on our path of reaching our highest potential, our buddha nature. Maybe that is all a bit of mumbo jumbo to you, but it doesn’t really matter. The fact remains, we are dying. Maybe not right now, but at some point, we will. What are we doing with this life to make the most out of the opportunities we have. Will we be happy whenever that day arrives, satisfied that we gave it our all, proud of our achievements as well as our fuck ups. Only we can tell.
I remember back in my twenties when I was early on climbing the corporate ladder (at 23 I had a company car, good salary and large responsibility) and thinking, do I really want my gravestone to read “Here lies Fleur, she worked hard”. Hell no. I want my life to be so much more than that. Which has pretty much steered my life ever since. Sometimes I need reminding, but I hope to continue on the path with as much curiosity, courage and sense of adventure as living this life any other way is simply selling this life short.