Art of Dying Volume One | Page 8

When Shunryu Suzuki was in the hospital dying of cancer,  one of his students visited and said, ‘I am here to see how a great Zen master dies.’ And Suzuki said, ‘It might be like this!’ (Koshin screams and flails his arms.) The student freaked out and ran out of the room. It’s such a great teaching. There’s no promise of anything. Yes, Suzuki dedicated his life to practice; but he was so dedicated that he understood that death could be anything.  I think there’s a fantasy that if I practice in a certain way; and if I read the right books; or if I meditate a lot; or whatever, then I’ll get something.  It’s like thinking you’re in charge when you’re not. No one is. No one can be. Is there one kind of plant? No. One kind of animal? Or mineral?  So why would there be one kind of right spirituality or right way of dying? Taking refuge in ‘I don’t know’ is comforting. It is not helpful having an idea of what a good death is. To me, the woman railing at the stars is just as good as blissing out and fading into the twilight. I can’t say that at the moment I know that I’m dying that I won’t get scared. I don’t know. There are no guarantees. We’re  attached to a false sense of continuity.  It’s fabricated. Life’s really just about giving and receiving and just being in the flow of things. The only thing you can rest upon is that everything 8 | ART OF DYING The grasping to know something is the greatest deprivation. “ Every spiritual tradition can tell you specifically what happens when you die.  If it’s your belief system, that’s great. But which one is the right one? Islamic Heaven?  Being with Christ? The Bardos?  To me, they’re all true.    And I have no idea what The Truth is.  Working with people who talk about where they’re going, people talking about going to the cosmos– it’s so fascinating.  Maybe 10,000 different things I’ve heard. ‘I’m going to be with my grandmother,’ ‘with my uncle,’ ‘with my great uncle,’ ‘my great aunt.’ ‘I’m going back to Russia,’ ‘back with my indigenous people in Australia.’  To  me  that’s the beauty of it.  It’s fabulous.  Why not?