Comfortable electric chair

Life comes and goes... even rocks come and go... what do we do with the time we have here?

Life comes and goes… even rocks come and go… what do we do with the time we have here?

I remember many years ago attending a talk given by a Buddhist monk back when I lived in the United States. Something he said has stayed with me to this day, and I am confident always will remain with me until I die. It was something obvious, something we all know, but I suppose the context drove home a crucial message. The monk did work in prisons… work with death-row inmates. People who were sentenced to die for the crimes they committed. There was no going back, they knew they would be killed and their time was limited. The monk talked about how some of these prisoners had realized greater freedom than the mass majority of people who are living ‘free’. Then he said the sentence that grabbed my head and has never let go… He said ‘We are all on death-row’

Now, of course, we all know that we will all die, someday. But, at least for me, it was always some abstract thing to occur in the incalculable future..

We will all die, we are truly all already on death-row.

How depressing!!!

Yet… how liberating.

How would you act towards yourself today if you knew you were to die tomorrow? How would you act towards other people?

In one sense, knowing we will die can free us from the fear of the consequences of our actions… both good and bad… we can become fearless.

In another sense however, knowing we will die can bind us with crippling fear of the upcoming death we know awaits us.

We are all on death-row… how will we make the time we have left in the prison we have put ourselves in?

In Buddhism, there is a Way, a path, in which we can escape our prison before we die.. so that when we do die, we die free. … like some of those inmates in the electric chair.

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7 thoughts on “Comfortable electric chair

  1. Such an interesting perspective Richard.. And yes the moment we are born we are born to die..
    Making the most of our now moments as if every moment is our last.. And learning that what we take with us is not gathered in possessions but in the deeds within our hearts..
    Wishing you a beautiful week.. _/\_

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  2. Death can so simplify things. There is a certain freedom when you stop pretending you will live forever. I found some of this freedom when I made my last payment on my grave marker. I am not even 50. To some degree, the prison e put ourselves in is one of pretense and our own making. Delusion, I think, is the prison. That is a big part of my take-away from Buddhism. Thank you for the post.

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  3. Great post, Indeed, A gem
    … to know that time is finite, .. it could be tomorrow, yet we ban death from our societies and consciousness.
    Still, I would make different decisions if I were to die in 3 months, than in the reality of this day, where my mind feels comfortable enough to remain with ‘the known’.

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