Meditation and Death (Batchelor) [en]

I’m still reading Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor; more quoting for your enlightenment (hopefully):

It might be that all I can trust in the end is my integrity to keep asking such questions as: Since death alone is certain and the time of death uncertain, what should I do? And then to act on them.


A reflection like this does not tell you anything you do not already know: that death is certain and its time uncertain. The point is to consider these facts regularly and slowly, allowing them to percolate through you, until a felt-sense of their meaning and implication is awakened. Even when you do this reflection daily, sometimes you may feel nothing at all; the thoughts may strike you as repetitive, shallow, and pointless. But at other times you may feel gripped by an urgent bodily awareness of imminent mortality. At such moments try to let the thoughts fade, and focus the entirety of your attention in this feeling.

This meditation counters the deep psychosomatic feeling that there is something permanent at the core of ourself that is going to be around for a while yet. Intellectually, we may suspect such intuitions, but that is not how we feel most of the time. This feeling is not something that additional information or philosophy alone can affect. It needs to be challenged in its own terms.

Reflective meditation is a way of translating thoughts into the language of feeling. It explores the relation between the way we thing about and perceive things and the way we feel about them. We find that even the strongest, seemingly self-evident intuitions about ourselves are based on equally deep-seated assumptions. Gradually learning to see our life in another way through reflective meditation leads to feeling different about it as well.

Stephen Batchelor, in Buddhism Without Beliefs, pp. 31-32

[emphasis mine]

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