“I knew a man who once said, ‘Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back.’” ~Russell Crow as Maximus in the Gladiator

The Final Chapter — Death

A confused child, a high school dropout, a window washer, a thief, a liar, a louse, an airman, an anarchist, a failing autodidact, a shitty writer but a far worse poet, and lest I be remiss in this list of deviant undesirables, I offer you the oddest of all possible failures (ask anyone), a fucking vegan.

And what do these all have in common?

Me. At one stage or another, and a fucking vegan to the death.

Speaking of which — Death I mean, not fucking or vegan or any combination thereof, allow me my further decadence:

As I flip to the final chapter in the saga of The Great Mundane, my candle burns low. I regard its wavering augury with similar trepidation, lapping at the dregs of bygone years.

Tho this is not a lament, my reader. Nor a farewell.

No, not yet.

But I’m old, and I’ve had enough.

Enough of the incorrigible pomposity of humanity.
Enough of the affected greetings, lies, and snide remarks — theirs as well as my own.
Enough of their wars, politics, and slaughterhouses.
Enough of enough.

I long for a reprieve, a pardon, the absolution that only death grants.

But, as I said, not yet.

Not until I’m ready.

And that is what my twaddle is about: Dying. Or more accurately, the preparation thereof. And I’m not selling funeral arrangements or life insurance.

In the event you’ve yet to grasp the decisive finality of existence (it is an area we tend to avoid), the next sentence is best to read lying down or seated in a comfortable chair. I’ll keep it short:

You’re going to die.

But not that short, and for the gist:

Phowa

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the practice of dying is known as Phowa (pronounced po-wa).

Phowa is used to help a dying sentient transfer their consciousness into the embodiment of the truth (whatever that is, you get to decide). As well as the rehearsal of our own climactic finale that we may, with sly and smug confidence on that fright-filled day, smile back at Death as the asshead demands our life’s accrued debts. Like a banker calling a delinquent loan, he’ll accept nothing less than payment in full, or forfeit the collateral.

I thought you’d like to know about this thing called Phowa. It is helping me prepare for death, both mine and others. At least I think, I hope it is — time will tell. And if you’d like to know more of Phowa, here are links:

Phowa Practice (from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche)

Spiritual Care Program – Essential Phowa Practice

Know that I am not a Buddhist or a Tibetan, or really all that spiritual as my historical profanity may portray. But, unlike the damning dogma of religion, the wisdom of the Buddha has helped me grow and gain understanding, compassion, and confidence throughout the years. Why not at death? And too, I find Buddhism in accord with fucking veganism and vise versa.

Thanks to the Venerable Great Middle Way for introducing me to Phowa (spelled there as powa).

Death — The Final Chapter. But not the epilog?

Namaste

19 Comments

  1. You are a bodhisattva to many of us, Peter — a great many actually 🙂 I say that with conviction and without reservation. The grim reaper is merely the messenger of course, and he spends most of his task in the death camps that long-lived homo sapiens construct for appetite, sport, tedium, shrugs and fashion statements. As you know, I am also a seeker of the middle way — and have my own arm-long list of missteps and all those experiences on my WTF list. Heroes on my list of bodhisattvas are vegans. Veganism is the only belief system that does not waste the grim reaper’s time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Bill, wow, I’m not sure I can live up to that compliment. However, if seeking the truth and writing from the heart and understanding when we’re wrong qualifies one as a bodhisattva, then I know you’re one too.

      It is the recognition of our missteps and WTFs — the acknowledgment that we were, we are, and we will be wrong that makes us better human beings — when we right those wrong, but only then.

      I’ve probably repeated this too many times, but it is a lesson in life worth knowing, and here it is again: Do you know what it feels like to be wrong? It feels just like being right, right up unto the time you find out you were wrong. It was Kathryn Schulz who taught me that in her humorous Ted Talk.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Namaste

      Liked by 3 people

      1. “…if seeking the truth and writing from the heart and understanding when we’re wrong qualifies one as a bodhisattva, then I know you’re one too.” Missteps and WTFs are essential. I would say that you have every quality demanded of a bodhisattva. In true namaste fashion, actually 🙂
        A respected Buddhist periodical Tricycle defines it thusly:

        “Regarding the question “What is a bodhisattva?” you could also define a bodhisattva as one who acts as a true adult. That is, most people in the world act like children. The word dainin means “true adult” or “bodhisattva.” Today most people who are called adults are only pseudoadults. Physically they grow up and become adult but spiritually too many people never mature to adulthood. They don’t behave as adults in their daily lives. A bodhisattva is one who sees the world through adult eyes and whose actions are the actions of a true adult. That is really what a bodhisattva is.”
        https://tricycle.org/magazine/what-bodhisattva/

        I look forward to viewing/hearing Kathryn Schulz’s talk — through the looking glass, as it were 🙂
        Namaste

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m glad you found the middle way. Hopefully it will help you in coming to terms with the unenlightened people in your life. Ahimsa is a noble practice, extended to ALL animals (especially the human one). I practice it not because I believe in an after life but because all animals FEEL and can suffer. (Harm of the human animals can be done with mere words.) We all deserve life, liberty, mercy.

    My sister-in-law is Buddhist, as are several of my friends; not one of them is vegan. I also know Jains and Hindus which of both eschew animals, cows in particular because they believe in an after life and karma, yet they consume the milk of their sacred cow every single day. (You and I both know that dairy is the worst when it comes to suffering.)

    As with all my religious or enlightened friends, they see not the contradiction of their guiding words and actions.

    Namaste. 🙏

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Superb! The fear of coming back ‘in a bad way’ or fearing that the being could be your grandmother can be a great motivator for good behavior. It’s why religious beliefs have worked so well in quelling the masses all this time.

        Personally, info that understanding a thing (or being) goes a long way toward helping me to appreciate it (him). If suffering of another is completely unnecessary, why even be the cause of it?

        I had no idea one could upload PDF’s on WordPress. That’s something pretty cool. Thanks for sharing it with me. ~ Shannon

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for clearing that up; I’ve been resenting Buddhism for some time because of people’s perversion of it owing to their taste for animal products. I’ve known a few Buddhists who eat animals at every meal 24/7, 365. They serenely say it’s all meant and part of the animals’ Karma. I call BS. But I see that the original and only valid Buddhist message was indeed in accord with veganism. I do love their concept of Nirvana where souls can finally get free from the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Wow, do I want freedom from that! And I want that for all of my loved ones, including all animals. And vegans as “failures”? (I LOLed). It’s that mass of conventional bloody eaters, the aggressively normal, who are the real failures. Ask me!…a fellow failure, in many ways.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Trust people not to be trusted. They’ve proved time and again that they’ll mislead, misconstrue, lie, exaggerate, distort, and pervert all that is good. The Buddha said don’t kill. Christ said don’t kill. God in his infamous ten commandments said don’t kill. But hey, that’s not what they meant.

          I’m all for Nirvana. I’d like to escape the life, death, and rebirth cycle this time around too. Fat chance, though. I still fight the urge to rip the bowels out of the assheads. I need to work on that, I suppose. Being more Buddha-like I mean.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Haha, love your way with the thoughts. I think you may be a prime candidate for Nirvana though, since malignant, nasty, aggressive assheads are badly in need of some major bodily (and moral) realignments. And fighting that urge to administer it to them is … 😇

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Shannon, Thanks for the helpful information, I’m going to look into Ahimsa, it seems to drive right down my alley. My trust level for those who not only think of themselves as enlightened but believe they can inform us how it’s done without becoming vegan, a low level of trust I can tell you without hesitation. Count me in as a fan of noble practice 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for the links Peter, I feel they will be useful when the time comes to shed this shell and carry on wherever that path takes us. I empathise, different angled reasons though the vegan core one is most akin to yours. Bill is quite right, I agree wholeheartedly with him regarding you, your writing and passion. ‘ Heroes on my list of bodhisattvas are vegans. Veganism is the only belief system that does not waste the grim reaper’s time. – – This, so very true, in more than one aspect, it’s the only one that is based on facts.

    Esme sending love from upon the Cloud

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Esme, wholehearted agreement is rare gossamer that inspires me to arrange letters that encapture my appreciation and gratitude for the ineffable. I’m calling it “Esmaste” — Google reports esmaste as an Estonian word that means “primary, essential.” 🙂
      To me, veganism is a touchstone for detecting truth, beauty, love, peace, and death from something I like to call “nihilism.”
      Please join me in thanking Peter for hosting, and to all bodhisattvas for attending 🙂 ❤ “ 🙂
      Esmaste!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Thank you, Esme, for your kind response. For as long as I remember, a day has not passed that I haven’t thought about death; now has come the time I feel the need to get serious about it. Lest It takes me unprepared. Bill is right about a lot of things. And like yourself, he, of course, is vegan. Vegans are my heroes and heroines.

      Esmaste!

      Liked by 2 people

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