A simple solution was the right solution to my meditation problem.
But the principle of simplicity when applied on its own can lead to reductionism that ironically makes finding the solution to a problem even more difficult and complex. That’s because following a basic principle cannot provide a complete picture of reality.
Simplicity must be approached with a mindset that’s rooted in direct experience.
The abbot of the monastery asked me to stay with the breath. He didn’t provide me with the definition of “breath.”
In the same way, it’s probably wiser to reflect on the experience of witnessing the death of a loved one instead of reading about the lives of dead people.
You can also reflect on your own personal experience with death.
I can reflect back to a time when I was a child. My parents rushed me to the emergency room one night because I had pneumonia and was having a difficult time breathing. After staying in the hospital overnight and receiving treatment, I was relieved when I woke up the next morning and could return home.
Pneumonia is the leading cause of death among children under five years of age in the world. I was slightly older than five years old at the time, but I’ll always be thankful for my parents and what they did that night.
Some think that people who venture off into nature or go on retreats are escaping the cruel hardships of society.
The reality is often the opposite of what’s assumed.
There’s probably nothing more frightening for many people than sitting alone in a quiet space with your own thoughts.
Initially, most people will feel a great sense of peace from being out in nature.
But if there are issues in your life that remain unresolved, that peace will eventually fade away.
You’ll quickly come to recognize the terrifying ways that you think about yourself and the world around you. It can be deeply unsettling, but it can also motivate you to address those fears in an effort to regain that peace.
That’s what death does.
It unnerves you.
Unfortunately, for many of us, it will take a swift kick from a horse to force us to re-think where we get our kicks in life.