I heard the “Hello/Goodbye” Dharma talk by Spring Washam, recently. She talked about her very vivid realization that everything about this existence is in constant, unending change. She realized for a few days that everything that came into her awareness, was impermanent and she went around acknowledging everything she met with a hello and a goodbye.
Someone is born. We are born. We meet someone for the first time. Hello. Someone dies. We die. Goodbye. We say goodbye to everyone. Everyone. After everyone we have ever met has their big goodbye, if the human race goes on, there will be more humans and creatures, more plants pushing through the topsoil, hello-ing and goodbye-ing. Spring also mentioned that everything in between is either suffering because we cling to wanting no goodbyes, or there is acceptance.
After the talk, I said to myself, ‘got it.’I probably said that to myself before the talk was done. But I only believed it because it sounded true. Had I got it, I would have had an larger appreciation of how precious everything between hello and goodbyes is. I could have remembered this, and dared myself to free-fall into the bitter sweetness of everyone and every experience in this life.
I got a phone call from one of my brothers, Larry. He said has failing kidneys and that the other one, Anthony, is going to give him one. I suffered because I started clinging to not wanting life to be what it is. I realized, really realized for that first time, that not only was there a ‘goodbye’ for my parents, along with all of their strengths and failings, but there are goodbyes out there for my siblings, too.
Not only will I have my own goodbye, I will have a goodbye to every thought I ever had about everyone, a goodbye all of my opinions about everyone’s strengths and failings as I die. I will die happy if I finish my novel in 2016. I will die happy if I get the sense that my work survives me, but after I’m dead, I will let go of that, too.
I’m not saying that I should not be human. I will most likely feel grief as I say goodbye to everyone and everything. I’m just saying as Buddha said, that if I refuse to accept that ‘goodbye’ is true, I will suffer.
I’m sure you have heard this, that our western culture is so adverse to simple truths, like death, that we are collectively deluded, so much so that we try to defy mortality with Pilates and diets or buying lots of stuff for ourselves to fall in love with, as we rape and consume the earth like we can buy another one or live forever on another planet.
I realize that I attempt to diet and exercise with some kind of weird notion in the back of my mind that this will save me from decrepitude. The only thing that will save me from any further decrepitude is if I get hit by a bus and die tomorrow. I and my body will eventually wear out, as will my siblings’ bodies, as will everyone I have ever laid eyes on.
Sometimes I get upset at the world and go to protests. I get all worked up and sometimes I miss the what is most important. I need to continually uncover my own delusions. Then, I can at least try to prevent everything out there from going to hell, and try do it while as much clarity as possible.
I like something I read from Eckhart Tolle:
The opposite of life is not death. The opposite of death is birth. Life has no opposite.
I am slowly coming to know this as true, as I am coming to know that I am fearing and running from something that is not even there.