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The Glass is Already Broken

--by Stephen and Ondrea Levine (Oct 31, 2016)


Once someone asked a well-known Thai meditation master, "In this world where everything changes, where nothing remains the same, where loss and grief are inherent in our very coming into existence, how can there be any happiness? How can we find security when we see that we can't count on anything being the way we want it to be?" The teacher, looking compassionately at this fellow, held up a drinking glass that had been given to him earlier in the morning and said, "You see this goblet? For me this glass is already broken. I enjoy it. I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it. But when I put this glass on a shelf and the wind knocks it over, or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, 'Of course.' When I understand that this glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious. Every moment is just as it is, and nothing need be otherwise."

When we recognize that, just like the glass, our body is already broken, that indeed we are already dead, then life becomes precious, and we open to it just as it is, in the moment it is occurring. When we understand that all our loved ones are already dead — our children, our mates, our friends — how precious they become. How little fear can interpose; how little doubt can estrange us. When you live your life as though you're already dead, life takes on new meaning. Each moment becomes a whole lifetime, a universe unto itself.

When we realize we are already dead, our priorities change, our heart opens, and our mind begins to clear of the fog of old holdings and pretendings. We watch all life in transit, and what matters becomes instantly apparent: the transmission of love; the letting go of obstacles to understanding; the relinquishment of our grasping, of our hiding from ourselves. Seeing the mercilessness of our self-strangulation, we begin to come gently into the light we share with all beings. If we take each teaching, each loss, each gain, each fear, each joy as it arises and experience it fully, life becomes workable. We are no longer a "victim of life." And then every experience, even the loss of our dearest one, becomes another opportunity for awakening.

If our only spiritual practice were to live as though we were already dead, relating to all we meet, to all we do, as though it were our final moments in the world, what time would there be for old games or falsehoods or posturing? If we lived our life as though we were already dead, as though our children were already dead, how much time would there be for self-protection and the re-creation of ancient mirages? Only love would be appropriate, only the truth.

Excerpted from Stephen and Ondrea Levine's book, Who Dies?: An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying.

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17 Previous Reflections:

 
On Nov 3, 2016 Grateful wrote:

 This passage opens up life without fear, pretensions or accumulation - the freedom to be , to rejoice each moment truly and to feel free. It teaches Courageous way of practicing truth and living in gratitude.



On Nov 1, 2016 Matt wrote:
I love this Buddhist concept of meditating on death,  I have done it on retreats before and very occasionaly at home and it is something I think I should bring into my practice more regularly. The reflection of the glass already broken is a useful one for me, it is a very simple way to describe the impermanence of everything. One thing I like about what Eckhart Tolle has to say about being present is Watching the Thinker - this means (as I understand it) that if we always have just a small amount of our being watching our thoughts we are in fact present. Namaste
 

1 reply: Amy | Post Your Reply
On Nov 1, 2016 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

 To live as though already dead means to embrace every moment, every encounter, every person and experience as though it may be the last time. To have gratitude to live in the present moment worrying less, loving and enjoying more. There are many times life is like this for me, I think it may come from growing up with a suicidal father, i never knew when his moment might be his last and so I learned early on to appreciate the present moment because that might be all you have left. He died at age 47 when I was 22. That taught me that one can die young further cementing to live each day fully. I am now 49, when I surpassed my father's age it was a huge deal to me. Each day is precious. Each person is too. Here's to embracing each other and realizing the beauty in impermanence.



1 reply: Me | Post Your Reply
On Nov 1, 2016 geraldine mcmahon wrote:

 I had cancer four years ago and almost died twice because of the severity of the chemo. When I had a pulmonary embolism, I was face to face with death. It does make you allow honesty more, having faced the inevitable so closely. My life has changed immensely since then...a lot more honesty, many new friends and precious reflections on life and love. It's good to see the broken glass.



On Nov 1, 2016 Natani el wrote:

 
In the center of all is All.
           Natani el
 
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On Oct 30, 2016 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 The presence of the present is the only Reality, the Truth and nothing but the Truth, and not to get attached to what is not in the present moment is the core message of  the wisdom traditions. The challenge for me and for most of us is to stay fully in the present moment. When I bring the shadows form the past and the shadows of the future I disconnect myself with the flow of the present. It is relatively easy for me to flow in the river of the present when I give myself time to be still and remain awakened and aware of this ever presence of the present, I feel the fullness of the moment. It is non-conceptual, non-local and non-causal. I become the present. The I gets dissolved into the river of the eternal and universal flow of energy. This knowing and awareness has helped me to go through ups and downs with equanimity,peace, compassion and love. It has taken time for me to arrive at this place in my life. It is a blessing and I am deeply grateful to the teachers who  See full.

 The presence of the present is the only Reality, the Truth and nothing but the Truth, and not to get attached to what is not in the present moment is the core message of  the wisdom traditions. The challenge for me and for most of us is to stay fully in the present moment. When I bring the shadows form the past and the shadows of the future I disconnect myself with the flow of the present. It is relatively easy for me to flow in the river of the present when I give myself time to be still and remain awakened and aware of this ever presence of the present, I feel the fullness of the moment. It is non-conceptual, non-local and non-causal. I become the present. The I gets dissolved into the river of the eternal and universal flow of energy. This knowing and awareness has helped me to go through ups and downs with equanimity,peace, compassion and love. It has taken time for me to arrive at this place in my life. It is a blessing and I am deeply grateful to the teachers who have blessed me by showing the path.

May we be blessed by the beings who guide us on the path of light and love!

Namaste.

Jagdish P Dave

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On Oct 29, 2016 david doane wrote:

I don't like the notion of living as though we were already dead.  We aren't dead.  We are living and dying at the same time.  Living and dying aren't dead.  Living and dying are the life we have.  I appreciate the impermanence of all that is, which means everything is always changing and nothing lasts, but impermanence doesn't mean we are already dead.  I don' live as though already dead.  I like to live alive.  Seeing life for how it is helps me see the impermanence of things.  Awareness that change is constant doesn't  result in indifference but results in passion for living.  I believe we are to live alive, with awareness that nothing is permanent and we are living and dying simultaneously which results in neither attachment to nor squandering of what is but in being present to and with what is.



On Oct 28, 2016 Abhishek Thakore wrote:

A side-benefit of feeling suicidal occasionally is that the impermanence of life stares in my face. And ir works!

From the stoics to modern philosophers and from Yama's dialogue with Yudishthir to Shamanism, a rumination on our mortality is a great pathway to living every moment fully. We've banished death to dark corners and private discussions.

Perhaps, putting it into the center will allow us to experience the tenderness and impermanence of this moment! :)



On Oct 27, 2016 Victoria Fabling wrote:

 I do this, the living as if I were already dead, with events which otherwise would be pregnant with expectation. I have had my fair share of being hurt by my best friends finding new best friends, and so now I enjoy, really enjoy the seconds I may spend with a stranger.  I am deliberately choosing a new way of behaving inside and out.