Western Baul Podcast Series

Using Death as an Advisor: What Death Can Teach Us About Living (Vijaya Fedorschak)

March 17, 2022

This talk references teachings from the writings of Carlos Castaneda and material from the book The Five Invitations by Frank Ostaseski. Holding on to things goes against nature since everything ends. In our culture, we seek to have death affect us as little as possible. Another option is to look at and show up for death when it crosses our path so that it informs our lives. If we push death away, transformation is not possible. Suzuki Roshi said, “We die, and we do not die.” How are we to understand this? On one level we are terrified of death and on another we encourage it. We can practice with little deaths, with accepting what is, relaxing ego, and acting as needed every day. Stories are recounted which illustrate the five invitations: don’t wait, welcome everything, bring your whole self, find a place of rest in the middle of things, and cultivate don’t know mind. Any consideration about avoiding dying raises the consideration of avoiding living. Our problem is that we think we have time. Are we holding on to something which keeps us from forgiving? How do we hold back from giving our whole self to life? Through loss, feelings of love become transformative. When we surrender to grief, we learn to give ourselves to life. People who are dying offer us a great gift. It’s too important to wait until the last moment to contemplate the mystery of death. VJ is the organizer of the Western Baul Podcast Series and author of Shadow on the Path and Father and Son.

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