Death is the final period at the end of everyone's life sentence.
Sooner or later, my body will begin to fail me; sickness, old age, and discomfort will be common bedside visitors.
So I meditated on this. I just lay there and felt the uncomfortable sensations. They washed on and off of me, ebbing and flowing with some unknowable rhythm from within my body.
I was sick, and soon I would feel better; this was fairly certain, but someday the pain wouldn't recede.
If I lived long enough, this was something I had to look forward to on a daily basis.
And as I sat with that (or lay, as the case was), terror arose at the certainty of my own mortality. It was instinctive on an almost cellular level. I was reminded of my vulnerability in my body's sickness--the ache and nausea.
But soon, like everything else in life, the terror transformed, into a dull fear.
Everything I had I would some day lose. It was the First Noble Truth manifesting: life, death, and everything in between is dukkha. It's written into the very fabric of samsara.
And I was okay with that. It wasn't resignation or stoicism; I would like to think that it was my Buddhist practice bearing fruit.
Zen is about transcending these very dualities, of life and death, self and other, samsara and nirvana. Like the "Heart Sutra" teaches, nothing ever arises and nothing ceases.
So how could something die? And who would do the dying anyway?
And that's all I'll ever need.
Photo borrowed from Creative Commons flickr user: Justin Mclean.