Thirty years ago in Dharamsala (India), while attending teachings given by the Dalai Lama, I met a Swiss Tibetan Buddhist woman who told me something interesting. I quit smoking, she said, because when I die I don’t want to spend my time in the Bardo Thodol (intermediate state between death and the next rebirth) looking for cigarettes.
Interesting thought. On what am I spending my life, my money? Where does my attention dwell? Which fears do I nurture? Which secret garden do I keep to myself? Were I to die tonight, which attachments would lead me away from where I hope ‘to spend eternity’?
In recent weeks, I have fled ‘reality’. I just did not want to look at it. I anesthetized myself by closing down and watching TV series on line. I stopped praying, I stopped meditating. I stopped doing my evening examen. I entered the virtual world of Korean drama and hid there. Mind you it has introduced me to an entirely new world, both real and virtual, which has brought new life to my life…
Still, last night, as I was fighting jet lag and trying to find sleep, I called Godde for help to get me out of this self-induced trance. And the question came: How do I want to spend eternity?
Would it be possible to take with myself, as I walk across the threshold between now and the hereafter, all that has seized my mind while I was alive, the good and the not so good. For instance, were i to be into sex, or clothes, or losing weight, or money, or travel, or power, would I just continue being seized by the same obsession for all eternity?
Like my ex-smoking friend, are there areas of my memory which I need to clear so as to create space to welcome the Ultimate Awesomeness which is there awaiting everyone of us? Do I want to hide myself ad vitam eternam in TV reruns?
When I lived abroad, the minute I realized that I was deep in culture shock, my life started improving. I am in a similar situation today: I see what I am doing to myself by numbing myself so that the only feelings I experience come from romances thought up by skilled writers and played by delightful actors — thus avoiding to deal with my own reality.
Godde and I are writing my life together. It is a remarkable adventure in itself. It is time for me to get back to it.
Photo: Sky in viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico