Presence in the Face of Death

Written by Tobi Warzinek

All of us share the same direction in life. Ultimately all of us who are reading these words will pass on. When death comes into our life and takes away someone we love dearly or threatens to stop our own heart from beating we are often left feeling helpless, fearful and even terrified. It is during these times that we truly see whether we have “become an island to ourselves”or not.

In this article I explore the benefits of presence during some of the most challenging times that we can experience within this life. I really hope that it will help some of you to find some solace and relief. But more so, I hope that it will help you to deepen your spiritual practice for the benefit of yourself and others.

Death & Impermanence

When it comes to death there are hundreds and thousands of stories, near death experiences, belief-systems and some very certain individuals telling you what exactly will happen when you die. When it comes to myself, I simply don’t know. I have no clue what happens after death – much like I don’t know what I am going to dream about after I go to sleep. To me the future is an unknown with only one certain element – I will die. This body will become very still and then it will eventually decompose.

Some people tell you that you must fear death – and they have stories of hell and fire and torment. Others tell you that we will all go to an amazing place, where we meet all our dead relatives again. They kind of look forward to dying. And then there are those who tell you that nothing at all will happen. What do they all have in common? They are thinking just the way they have learned to think from their surrounding – their culture, their personal past experiences, the books they’ve read and the stories they’ve listened to and so on.

Upon observing life closely, we can learn a lot about impermanence. Our emotions, our feelings, the various sensations and perceptions come and go. Our thoughts arise and pass and our body changes as well. It continuously adapts, creates, exchanges, breathes and moves. If you take a few moments and get out of the incessant noise inside of your head, you will slowly become aware that there’s a dimension of being that transcends all words, perceptions, memory and anticipation. It’s silent and powerful and it has by far more to say than any word, opinion or belief ever could.

Comfortable with Death

Can we be comfortable with the falling away of certainty, thoughts and inner noise – the fuel of our thought-made identity? The answer is Yes! There’s true and profound comfort where inner noise falls away. When you can deeply connect with the changing nature of life and become a listener you will start to learn how to be comfortable with death and impermanence. The problem why many people stop learning is that they don’t know how to become quiet and listen. They tend to repeat the same mistakes again and again, experience the same suffering over and over – they don’t know what to do with themselves.

The answer is to learn how to be at ease with inner space, the falling away of noise. Discovering this dimension of life is something extraordinary and joyful. It can give us tremendous amounts of energy and is a reliable refuge. Finding silent presence within difficult and challenging situations we can regain composure and solve problems with more ease and elegance. This is a very beneficial skill to develop and will benefit us greatly in our final hours. But there’s more to this.

Becoming a Refuge

Those who are able to keep their presence and dwell within silence are available. They are like an open space that is able to receive and dissolve pain. When listening to others from the position of EGO, we come with an agenda based on aversion, attachment, fear and various other emotional clusters. When listening from inner silence, we are here as awareness, consciously present. It is this very presence that we are all looking for in different forms. We want others to pay attention to us, see us, appreciate us – one of the reasons why social media sites are so incredibly popular!

We could say that our undivided and open awareness equals a loving and caring presence. It allows others and their humanity to be expressed without being critical or judgemental. Awareness doesn’t superimpose one’s own ideas onto others and demand the world to be the way “I” want it to be. It simply receives the truth of this moment and appreciates it for what it is. It’s silent, humble and a very powerful agent of healing. Once we are able to allow ourselves to be – fully and without any form of trying – we start to heal in that space. Life and death are both accepted as the eternal play of this universe and we can find a great deal of peace within knowing that directly in the NOW.

What’s Within You

…is what radiates out into this world. It can carry others or destroy them, it can uplift or disparage them. If you are here within peaceful presence, with a clear mind free from the clouds of ignorance and delusion you are in the position to offer the greatest gift to this world. But you first have to give this gift of undivided attention and kindness to yourself. Learn to receive all of yourself fully within the warmth of silence and – for a few moments – give up the relentless chase after something else. Allow yourself to melt away in this space and recharge your heart. It is this heart that you and others are really looking for – not other things.

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About The Author

Tobi Warzinek has been working as a spiritual guide and mentor since 2009. His journey started in early 2002 when he entered the Tibetan Buddhist monastery of Rabten Choeling. He spent approximately 7 years in the community and studied the Tibetan language, mind-training and various meditation methods. Additionally he trained in traditional monastic debate and Buddhist philosophy. In 2011 he subsequently began practicing within the “Forest Tradition” in Thailand. Altogether he has dedicated his life to the exploration and refinement of introspection throughout the past 18 years.

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