Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What I Learned in Germany - The Life Unlived and Living Your Own Life

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got back from a week in Germany on Sunday, November 2nd, 2009. It was a crazy trip as my friend and I discovered that their father had passed away while we were out hiking.

One of the things that came out -- that almost invariably comes out -- is how the deceased didn't have a good enough life. Often we are reminded that "you can't take it with you" and to enjoy life with whatever riches or resources we have amassed. The life unlived, so to speak. Especially when death comes unexpectedly.

But what if that is what *we* want, and not what they wanted? What if travelling the world and is what is important to us, but not to them? For the person who passed away, perhaps they lived in quiet contentment, with the things they loved comfortably around them, life a comfortable routine of familiarity and ease.

(Especially) in North America and our self-help-book culture, we are taught -- pushed -- to grow and expand and seek new experiences. And if we don't, we aren't "growing", and we are admonished for it. People feel sorry for us.

But there is another way. In Buddhism, "suffering arises from attachment to desires".

Dharma: What is that which, when renounced, makes one lovable? What is that which is renounced makes happy and wealthy?
Yudhishthira: Pride, if renounced makes one lovable; by renouncing desire one becomes wealthy; and to renounce avarice is to obtain happiness.

-- from the Mahabarata

Remember to live your own life. It's exhausting to live it for someone else. And definitely stop doing that when when they're gone.

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