The quote above was made by the late professor Randy Pausch during his “Last Lecture” at Carnegie Mellon University after having been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Sadly, some people reading this will not live to see 2010. It’s just a fact of life. Could be you – could be me. In the Buddhist tradition, I contemplate my own death at least once a week. Probably won’t hurt you to consider this once a year or so…
Contemplating your own demise is a powerful way of clarifying what it important to you – what is meant by “how well you live” in the quote above. It may seem like a downer at first, but it can be the catalyst that frees you to live True and Good and Right.
To live a meaningful life rather than just a long, aimless, and inconsequential one.
As most of you know, I’m convinced that you come back after death. So without the fear of death, what guides me? Quite simply – Karma. I try to live a wholly conscious life, a life where I consider how my actions affect others balanced with how they affect my own inner peace. If, upon my death, I have any regrets on how I treated myself or others, I know that I’ll come back and have to “pay” for those selfish or inappropriate actions in my next life. Not because of some divine retribution, but simply because of my own feelings of guilt.
Not everyone believes this obviously, but we all know what is good for us – good deep down in our core. That Goodness that is inherent in us all – the balance of Selfishness & Selflessness – is what each of us can use to guide our lives from this moment forward.
A new year is in front of us – a time when many contemplate their lives and resolve to make positive changes. It is a time to stop making excuses and start living again. The past is gone. The future is uncertain. You could die before you finish this sentence. All that matters, all that really matters, is right now – this exact moment – and what you are going to do with it.
Think on these things and your life will open up, your soul will soar and you will find yourself appreciating the simple little things that you have long forgotten – and long taken for granted.
Peace and Happy New Year.
December 31, 2008
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