By Ty H. Phillips
The truth of suffering. When taken alone, it seems nihilistic.
It is absolutely simple and true and yet, something we kick and scream against at all times. I became intimately aware of this reality in mid 2011. It was, I thought, a wake up call for me. After years of struggle and internal reflection, I came out the other side of a clash with my mortality, awake…or so I thought.
After I got better, I started allowing old habits to slide back in. My dharma practice went from front seat, to back seat, to in the closet with the rest of the dusty things I no longer play with.
I would still do things that were dharma related but I think in all honesty, it was routine more than practice. I was aware of what I was doing but I was not mindful of what I was doing. It was not living it was simply ritual.
In September of 2017, I found myself back in the hospital and my “awakeness” wasn’t there. I was yet again confronted with all the insecurities and doubts I was sure I had worked through. As Anyen Rinpoche says, “…there is no escape from Samsara. Yet most of us spend our entire lives trying to escape.” He goes on to explain what we use to provide this escape, drugs, relationships, work, hobbies, etc.
It was skimming through his text, Living and Dying With Confidence, that I realized just what I had been doing.
I was trying to outrun my anxieties, my fears and doubts, and my lack of control over what was happening to my body. I was doing exactly what I had written about so many times over so many years. I was the classic example of do as I say not as I do.
This is the second time that I have read Living and Dying With Confidence. The initial time was for a review that I had yet to submit. The second time was for myself and for a now revised review from a place of humility.
Anyen Rinpoche provides not just another book on the Tibetan Buddhist view of living and dying, but a day to day guide. It is a simple and direct daily reader and a reminder that we all sometimes need about the truth of suffering. We work with our acceptance on the situation as it is. It is not a nihilistic resignation where we just give up, but a profound understanding of truth.
His gentle walk through is uplifting and beautifying as it guides us through the struggles that we will face of how we live, how we act, how we age, suffer and eventually die. We cannot die with confidence if we cannot and do not live with confidence. This is not a prideful confidence but the confidence of being within the moment with an altruistic purpose.
Living the practice is what gives us freedom in life and in death.
Rinpoche’s book is as simple as the first noble truth. It is clear, concise and when understood, deeply moving. I am forever grateful for what he has offered within these pages.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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