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Live Your Life As If You Have Already Died


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“Live your life as if you have already died”. – Shantideva (Eighth century Indian Buddhist monk)

 

I recently watched a teaching by a Buddhist monk who expounded on this short and rather cryptic remark by the great Shantideva. It is the summation and culmination of all Buddhist thought and doctrine. Beyond this, there is no teaching.

 

The monk I listened to suggested that we might ask ourselves the following question: “Am I ready to let go of everything?” When we live without hope or fear, when we have “let go” of everything, we have already died. The next question to ask is: “Who is doing the holding-on?” When we are not able to find any trace of the “whom”, or “what” doing the holding-on, we let go of everything. These questions are more to be reflected upon than answered, because there is really nothing to understand. And, they may have to be asked many times over weeks, months, and even years. Or, realization may come in the present moment.

 

There is a story of a Zen master and his student. The student asked the Zen master: “How much ego can I have?” The Zen master replied: “Enough so you won’t get hit by a bus!”

 

Peace.

Steve

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Thanks Steve,

 

In Christianity.... Paul is recorded saying .... " I am dead and my life is hid with Christ in God" . and also "I die daily" Fear is also to be let go but Hope being let go is quite different ?

 

Joseph

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Hi Joseph,

 

Yes, I think from the writings of Paul, we can conclude that he may have realized the egoless state. He mentions that it is not "he" that is living, "but Christ living in me". That's a pretty strong indication anyway.

 

What intrigues me about the teaching I referenced above, is to contemplate how one's life might be transformed if we lived "as if" we were already dead. Death removes everything from us, including our hopes, fears, beliefs, opinions, and so on. It virtually "clears the decks" of all of our concepts. It seems to me that we are then liberated from clinging to what is inherently impermanent and fleeting. We see existence for what it is, rather than what we hope it to be, and we remove the fear of not getting what we had hoped for.

 

Still, this is not a teaching for everyone. Those of us from Christian backgrounds are very reluctant to let go of our beliefs, hopes and fears.

 

Steve

Edited by SteveS55
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Yes Steve,

 

It does seem to be as you say.

 

Another good question to then eeflect upon is " Who is it that is then liberated from clinging? Perhaps one will find both clinging and liberation are but illusion or 2 sides of the same coin?

 

Joseph

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