I gave myself a seat, in this morning's meditation, aboard that airliner that was reported "lost" in last night's news. This morning, a bit later, I learned that the missing aircraft had most likely crashed at sea, and there were hints of possible terrorism involved. My meditation was intended in no way to diminish the pain of those involved, the victims and their surviving families. The collective human grief is unimaginable. I can do no more--nor less--than open up my heart to send out lovingkindness, along with the wish for the healing that will be sorely needed.
My seat on that airplane was no more than the fabrication of my mind, and I have a lingering feeling of guilt for having taken it in imagination only, while others occupied theirs in reality. That said, it was an important and valuable gift, to allow myself no more than five minutes to live, and to shuffle off, even if only in imagination, what the poet called "this mortal coil." "For in that sleep of death," the full Hamlet quotation reads, "what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause..."--and it was this pause I gave myself, to approach death as nearly as I could.
It was a moving and instructive experience. As long-time readers of The Buddha Diaries will know, the concept of rebirth has always been a sticking point for me in what I have been trying to learn from the dharma. And for the first time this morning I arrived, in meditation, at just the merest inkling, no more than a flash of intuition, as to what that might actually mean. It was a stretch of the mind, to imagine the destruction of the physical body, its various parts falling away uselessly into oblivion. What startled me was to catch a glimpse of the "something" that was left--not some thing, at all, but what I sensed to be a core of being, an energy, a light-ness, a brilliance of light...
And I wondered, thinking back on the experience, about the light I hear about when I read of the so-called "near-death experience," described most often as the far end of a kind of tunnel through which the dying being passes to reach "the other side." And I began to wonder whether this light was after all not the passage, or the destination of the journey after death, but actually that part of us, itself, that survives and journeys on--to its next destination?
And then of course my skeptical self kicked in, with its judgment that this speculation was just more of the delusion that I'm taught to guard against... Perhaps.
In any event, I return with the sincerest sympathy for those who lost their lives in this most dire and terrifying of circumstances; and for those who must live on without them. May they find peace and healing in their lives.