Pretend you are dying; then don't

Do you remember your life, the all-encompassing chronology of buoyant first kisses and rancorous last words, grateful births and grievous deaths, promises made and vows un-kept?

Supposedly, just before you die, your entire life flashes in front of your eyes, the scenes blinking like strobe lights as the years roll by. “My Life,” the movie, playing for the final time in Death’s screening room, unabridged, nothing left out.

According to the Hindu-Buddhist philosophy of soul transmigration, the life you’re about to exit contains within it a lesson to be learned before you can take the next step along the path to enlightenment. In the nanosecond of linear time that it takes to pass from human to humus God has to determine if you need Remedial Compassion 101 or if you’re ready for a higher level of Cosmic Oneness.

But I’m puzzled by the process. At my age, with a mortality table counted on fingers and toes, I am well aware of how the power of death prompts an examination of life. Why do I have to kick the bucket before I’m taught the lesson I’ve been predestined to absorb during the course of this lifetime?

Why not learn it now, while I still have time to revise my obituary before it gets written. The Reaper doesn’t have to run the projector for me to screen the movie of my life.

We all have that opportunity.

We elders can recreate the past clarified with the wisdom and insight acquired from experience. We can see for ourselves where we fudged the truth and shielded our eyes from the light. We can see the missteps, the errors in judgment, the cruelties suffered and inflicted… and we can pass on to our sons and daughters the one, compelling lesson that becomes unambiguously clear.

The only hope for this world is the emergence of universal love and tolerance.

I think deep down all of us know that to be the only answer.

We must learn to be more tolerant of others, listening to dissenting outlooks, valuing them even if disagreeing with them. We must recognize love as a verb, our goal to be a loving person, not simply to feel the emotion from time to time but to glow with it always, regardless of the circumstances.

By taking personal responsibility for scripting the end of our movie we can magnify the joy of being alive, cheating death and adding joy and meaning to life.

The renowned mystic, Joan Borysenko, puts it this way: “death is a great eye-opener…when you may never see another spring, the blooms of an azalea are almost painfully magnificent.”

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