"Really, try this. Imagine you've died but you can still watch what happens . . ."

Thanks to raptitude, and to Jay for the pointer to this site which is subtitled, “getting better at being human.” Check it out! I love this exercise. Such an clear, easy way to erase the ego — if but momentarily, and then, with practice, to surrender to the blue blue sky . . .

Die on Purpose

April 12, 2010

by David Cain

chair in the desertI think it’s really helpful to forget you exist, and often.

It sounds impossible, but it can be done.

Here’s an exercise I do sometimes to achieve that perspective:

Wherever I am, whatever location I am in, I picture the situation exactly as it would be if I wasn’t there. I just watch it like it’s a movie, and the people still in the scene are the actors. Or maybe there’s nobody around at all, it’s just an empty corner of the world sharing a moment with itself. Whatever the scene, it feels like I’m watching it remotely from some far-off theater. It’s all still happening, but I’m not there.

I absorb myself in the details of how it looks and sounds. The characters’ tones of voice, their gestures, the room around them, the background noise. I can let it be whatever it is without any apprehension, because I’m not there, so I have no means — or reason — to stop it or control it, or to wish it was different.

And something amazing happens: all of my concerns and interests just disappear. I watch the moment unfold however it pleases. No part of me is invested in the moment, it just becomes whatever it wills to be, and it doesn’t matter what happens. The effect is exhilarating and liberating. It seems to be quite a miracle that there is even something happening at all. And it’s always, always beautiful.

Think of it as dying on purpose.

Imagine you just died, right now. All of your responsibilities, relationships, plans and worries would vanish like they were never even real, and the world would go on perfectly fine without your input, just like it did before you existed. It’s nothing personal, just the plain truth.

Your hopes and worries never mattered anyway. They only appeared to be so critical because while you were alive you had the insidious (but normal) human habit of seeing things only insofar as they relate to you and your interests.

Really, try this. Imagine you’ve died but you can still watch what happens. You can even wander around the house or the neighborhood like that. Suddenly, the spectacle of what happens is all that’s important, and how it might affect you has nothing to do with it whatsoever, because there is no you.

If you can achieve that mindset of being utterly absent — and it’s not difficult — you will experience no self-consciousness, no worries, no angst, no fear. Just stuff happening. Interesting stuff. Poetic and absurd and compelling all at the same time.

The sensation of “not being there” is one of utter clarity. It will feel as if you’ve dropped a weight you never knew you were carrying.

Once you get a feel for that state, you will realize how much of your everyday thoughts are not about what actually happens, but about what’s in it for you or not in it for you.Those thoughts are the source of all self-consciousness, fear, longing and existential pain.

There is no sufferer, so there is no suffering. Curiously, beauty survives.

You will find that what happens around you is always beautiful and painless if you can watch it without evaluating it against your personal interests. And that’s easy to do when you’re not there.

So die, often.


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2 Responses to "Really, try this. Imagine you've died but you can still watch what happens . . ."

  1. Mark White says:

    This is intense. It’s a great exercise in the purpose of awakening. Then, from this transcendent vantage, I am detailing for myself how I would be relating to the injustices and critical issues in the world today. Even though I may be no more, in this exercise there is an awareness that remains, and I assume a sense of compassion remains as well, so now, from my transcendent, “non-existent” place, I wonder what can this one piece of soul do to build heart in the world. Disembodied and nonexistent… not much. Love of this world and the people here is what keeps me embodied here (and is what keeps the divine entwined also, I suppose).

    “Curiously, beauty survives”
    In the absence of suffering (very difficult if not impossible place to get to and stay), the world reveals itself as an intrinsic, if yet imperfect, paradise.

    • Rasheed Khan says:

      This is a very good way of creating a basis of meditation. A method that almost everyone can tune into. But there is a reality to all this. What do I mean? Well, there will undoubtably be a moment in time where I, and you will become non existant, won’t there?
      A time will come where there would be certain tangible materials that no longer serve any purpose, at least to this entity that I and you used to call ‘me’.
      If I am lucky, the the body that encased me will be washed and made to be presentable. Perhaps some colourful vegetation will be laid beside my body, which will ironically have more or less the same fate as the body it is used to be a tribute to. My possessions, my wealth, my loved ones and that which I loved so much will mean no more.
      Do you think that will be it. As simple as ‘dust to dust, ashes to ashes’?
      Really? That simple?. That sounds even more simplified than some of the trivial decisions that I had to make when I was alive.
      I believe that’s just the beginning, and an end of a journey that continuously prompted me to acknowledge and realise the true reality and purpose of ‘me’.

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