Wednesday, November 14, 2007

555. Words

"Meditation is like being at your own funeral, except you're not dead," said the teacher at tonight's contemplative practice class.

It was quite a statement, and people gasped. What he meant was that if we could be present at own eulogies, we would hear the most profound, glorious, tragic moments of our lives summed up in anecdote form: "The relationship was difficult." "She loved her children more than the world." "They lived for each other." How many tears fell for each of those words?

We strive, during meditation, to make the millions of words that describe our complicated lives fall away and leave in their wake a simpler awareness of being. In silence we watch as they turn into anecdotes that float past with each breath, and then disappear until the moment we open our eyes. (We hope they will be slower and calmer upon their return.) Contemplative practice can teach us that the novels of our lives are really just anecdotes, and that the extraneous bulk of words and worries we create all day long stands in the way of noticing what's really important: breath, nature, peace.

I hope, one day in this lifetime, to be able to do this rather than just write about it.

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